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MCPS pay outs increased 15% in 2021

By | Published on Thursday 5 May 2022


The UK’s mechanical rights collecting society MCPS has published a few stats regarding its operations in 2021, confirming that monies distributed to its music publisher and songwriter members last year were up 15% year-on-year to £181.7 million.

Although it works with performing rights society PRS on administrating its rights, MCPS is a standalone organisation owned by the Music Publishers Association that issues licences in various scenarios where songs are reproduced.

Traditionally the biggest customers of mechanical rights were record labels when they pressed copies of songs onto discs, with MCPS usually issuing the licences that the labels required. As a result, the mechanical rights income of the music publishing sector – and therefore MCPS revenues – took quite a hit in the 2000s when CD sales slumped.

In the wider scheme of things, the streaming boom has replaced a sizeable chunk of what was lost in the 2000s, although that isn’t really reflected in the MCPS figures. Firstly because with streams, both mechanical rights and performing rights are exploited, so – in the UK – 50% of streaming income is counted as mechanical rights income, but half is performing rights – so PRS – income.

Plus, many music publishers directly license their song catalogues to streaming services in many markets, rather than relying on the collective licensing system. So, while MCPS is very much involved in licensing digital services – usually in partnership with PRS and ICE – it doesn’t license the full UK repertoire.

Nevertheless, the £181.7 million distributed to members last year is the highest pay out by MCPS since 2009. That’s partly because the streaming boom continues and MCPS is involved in some of that, but also because physical sales are holding up pretty well at the moment, and there are other areas where MCPS licenses on behalf of its members, in particular in the broadcasting domain.

MCPS itself says of the increase in royalty distributions last year: “These healthy returns can be attributed to the ever-increasing demand for entertainment streaming services in 2021, robust distributions from international receipts, increased consumer demand reflected by solid returns from both major and indie record labels, as well as consistent performance from broadcast revenues”.

“While increasing its member distributions through revenue growth initiatives”, it adds, “MCPS has also continued to focus on efficiencies and optimising the costs associated with royalty delivery. This has resulted in an effective blended commission rate of 7.4% – down from 7.7% in 2020 – resulting in more than £7.2m in excess commission earnings to be refunded in 2022 to every member who received a royalty distribution in 2021”.

Paul Clements – CEO of both MPA and MCPS – adds: “We are very proud to deliver these excellent results for our members. While encouraged to see progressive growth year on year, we are still in the early stages of delivering an ambitious growth strategy on behalf of our members, leveraging new licensing opportunities in the market, while maximising value in areas of licensing which are due for review. While we reflect on these financial achievements, we remain focused on protecting our members’ rights, which are at the heart of everything we do”.