The MLC – Closing the Digital Pay Gap
The digital age has ushered in some truly substantial and revolutionary changes in our daily lives. Improved communication, instant access to unlimited information, remote work, increased productivity and efficiency, cost savings, and entire job categories that didn’t exist just a few years back; these are a few of the things one might put in the digital plus column.
But not everyone has benefited from this onslaught of digital technology. One of the best examples of the downside of digital has been the steady erosion of the songwriting profession. This is being felt acutely in Nashville, where songwriting as a craft and a career is part of a long-established tradition. Where even mid-level writers used to be able to make a decent living, the advent of streaming music has gutted the available income for creators. In short, songwriters are earning a small fraction of what they were making just a few years back.
Rock star Peter Frampton recently publicly aired his frustration over the current royalty situation.
“For 55 million streams of ‘Baby I Love Your Way,’ I got $1,700,” Frampton said, “I went to Washington with ASCAP last year to talk to lawmakers about this. Their jaws dropped, and they asked me to repeat that for them.”
Anyone in any creative field can understand their frustration. We know the value we provide to our clients with our work, and we have every right to expect compensation for that work. Without it, we go out of business. That’s the plight of countless songwriters out there.
As part of an effort to close this digital pay gap, Congress passed the Music Modernization Act back in 2017, establishing The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) as part of that legislation. The MLC collects a new kind of royalty – the digital mechanical royalty – created to reflect the new digital landscape where streaming has overtaken and pretty much killed the physical product (CDs, LPs, etc.), the sales of which paid traditional mechanical royalties.
At Cronin Creative, we’re proud to work with The MLC, crafting the marketing materials that are building awareness and helping to drive their mission to get creators fairly compensated for their work. It’s working. The MLC has already distributed over $1 billion to songwriters. Getting everyone on board and signed up to receive the streaming money they’ve earned is a challenging and painstaking process, but the end result – great music that enriches our lives and stands the test of time – is more than worth the effort.