Smaller Streaming Services Are Getting Shut Out by the MLC, Sources Say

As the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) continues to build itself, sources have revealed that smaller streaming services are pushing back against their perceived lack of input in the development process.

One source, who asked to remain anonymous, reached out to Digital Music News with word of the troubling behind-the-scenes disputes. Mechanical Licensing Collective officials and smaller digital service provider (DSP) execs have been meeting in a “series of online seminars,” according to the source, who was on hand for at least one of the meetings.

The talks turned contentious when representation for smaller players came up. “It got pretty hot,” a participant said of a recent remote discussion.

Napster was among the most vocal of the attending streaming services, though other, more reserved parties appeared to concur with the criticism.

The firmly worded disapproval covered everything from the MLC’s fee schedule (the MLC unveiled its luxurious, 17,800-square-foot Nashville HQ earlier this month) to its “country club” operational style, including purportedly cultivating a transparent public image while failing to involve smaller streaming services in the decision-making process.

At another point, Napster’s representative bluntly asked MLC higher-ups to name any small DSP that they’d consulted during the planning process.  These individuals were unable to provide even one such name, per our source.

The Mechanical Licensing Collective also said that it would record the meeting and upload footage to the web, the same party told us. At the time of this writing, only other “MLC Week” livestreams had made their way online – a fact that didn’t come as a surprise to the professional who filled DMN in on the matter.

“Probably have a fair amount of editing to do before they want to make it public,” they said of the video.

Additionally, Digital Music News was supplied with a list of executives who were part of recent MLC Zoom call.

It’s not clear who ended up dialing in, though the list of invitees was fairly substantial.  Participants included, but weren’t limited to TIDAL director, business affairs and licensing Justin Joel; Napster SVP and general counsel Matthew Eccles; MLC head of business operations Joya Carmichael; Easy Song Licensing director of operations Timothy Kosel, and Viacom senior counsel, business and legal affairs Cassandra Ching.

Napster didn’t respond to a request for comment in time for publishing.

More as this develops.