Catalog Transfer Process and FAQs

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Frequently asked questions about catalog transfers

Catalog transfer process



What is a catalog transfer?

Occasionally, Members may choose to transfer their right(s) to collect royalties for a collection or "catalog" of musical works to another Member. This is referred to as a “catalog transfer.”

A catalog transfer may include the transfer of a full catalog (all works within the catalog) or a partial catalog (only specific works within a catalog).

In such cases, it is essential that Members acquiring rights inform The MLC and provide specific documentation regarding the transfer. This allows The MLC to update the relevant data for these works in its database and then redirect royalties for the musical work claims being transferred to the Member receiving rights according to the transfer.

What is the Catalog Transfer Form?

The Catalog Transfer Form collects all the information and documentation regarding a catalog transfer.

When do I need to submit a Catalog Transfer Form to The MLC?

A Member should submit a completed Catalog Transfer Form whenever they wish for The MLC to change the Member entitled to receive royalties for a set of existing musical work claims registered in The MLC’s database as a result of a catalog transfer.

Example: MLC Member A is a songwriter with a catalog of 50 songs they own and administer. Member A decides to have MLC Member B (a Publishing Administrator) administer all of their catalog and receive royalties from The MLC.

Member B should then submit a catalog transfer form to notify The MLC that they are now the new administrator for Member A and therefore entitled to receive royalties for Member A’s works.

When is a catalog transfer not needed?

A catalog transfer is not needed if the writer or catalog that you have signed does not have works registered in The MLC's database.

Works not yet registered in The MLC’s database should be treated as new work registrations and added via one of The MLC’s work registration tools or CWR.


Catalog Transfer Process

    1. To notify The MLC of a catalog transfer that involves a change in the party entitled to claim and receive royalties from The MLC, the new claimant should submit a Catalog Transfer Form along with the following supporting documents. These documents include:
      • Completed online Catalog Transfer Form (this form can be found here).
      • Letter of Authorization (LOA), publishing/administration agreement or Letter of Direction (LOD), and if available, a copy of the existing claimant's Letter of Relinquishment (LOR).
        • If you believe an LOA, publishing/administration agreement, or LOD is not necessary (for example, because the recipient of rights in the catalog being transferred is a songwriter who will be self-administering those works and wishes to receive royalties directly from The MLC), you do not need to submit one initially, but The MLC may ask you to confirm additional facts regarding the transfer to verify that one of these documents is not needed.
        • Please note: The provision of an LOR by the party receiving rights under a catalog transfer may expediate the catalog transfer process, but The MLC will still need to confirm the relinquishment of rights to receive royalties for the musical work(s) being transferred with the existing claimant(s).
    2. The parties involved in the catalog transfer will need to provide information about the scope of the catalog transfer - whether it involves a full catalog or partial catalog.
      • Full catalog transfer: This refers to the transfer of the entirety of a musical works catalog.
        • For a full catalog transfer, the new claimant does not need to provide a list of the musical work claims covered by the administration/publishing agreement or LOD. However, the new claimant must still review and verify the musical work claims to be transferred before the catalog transfer can be finalized.  
      • Partial catalog transfer: This refers to the transfer of specific musical works from a catalog, rather than the entire catalog.
        • For a partial catalog transfer, the new claimant must provide a list of the specific musical work claims that will be included in the transfer.
    3. After receiving the request and catalog transfer documents, The MLC will provide the new claimant with a list of the musical work claims in The MLC's database that we believe fits the description of works provided in the Catalog Transfer Form. This list, titled "Catalog Works List," will be sent via email for the new claimant to review and verify. 
    • Please note: It is important for the Member receiving rights under a catalog transfer to review the Catalog Works List and verify that these are the works claims that should be transferred.

    NOTE: If there are works that appear to be missing, please check to make sure those works have been registered with The MLC. If not, they will need to be registered as new works.

    4. Once the new claimant verifies the Catalog Works List, The MLC will send to the existing claimant(s) a copy of the new claimant’s Catalog Transfer Form and the Catalog Works List.   

    5. The existing claimant(s) have a period of 30 calendar days from the date they receive the Catalog Transfer Form and Catalog Works List to either dispute the catalog transfer documents or confirm their relinquishment of the new claimant's musical work claim(s).  

    • If the existing claimant(s) confirms its relinquishment of the musical work claims, The MLC will proceed with updating the existing musical work claims in favor of the new claimant. 
    • If the existing claimant(s) submits a timely dispute of the new claimant’s catalog transfer documents and musical work claims, The MLC will place the musical work claims and royalties on hold. The MLC will manage the dispute in accordance with its Ownership Dispute Policy.
    • If the existing claimant(s) do not meet this deadline, The MLC will consider the new claimant's catalog transfer documents as valid. As a result, The MLC will remove claims from the existing claimant and transfer them to the new claimant. 
    6. After the catalog transfer is finalized according to one of the three scenarios mentioned above, The MLC will notify the claimants about the outcome and status of the transfer.


    Please note: It may take a month or two for The MLC to implement relevant changes based on when we receive the request, the effective dates, and the timing of the snapshot.




    Administrator (sometimes referred to as a “publishing administrator”)  An entity which engages in many types of administrative activities that a music publisher would generally do on behalf of its publisher, songwriter, composer, and lyricist clients. 
    Catalog transfer documents The documents a new claimant is required to submit to The MLC to initiate a catalog transfer, including a copy of an LOD, an LOR (if available), and a completed Catalog Transfer Form. If the new claimant is a self- administered songwriter, they may initiate a catalog transfer by submitting an LOR along with a completed Catalog Transfer Form. 
    Catalog Works List

    An inventory of the work/share claims registered in The MLC database at the time a catalog transfer is initiated by a new claimant with The MLC.  

    The Catalog Works List includes the title, writer(s), MLC song code, and the share of the musical work claims subject to the catalog transfer.

    Claimants The new claimant and existing claimant(s) are subject to a catalog transfer request. 
    Dispute A status for a work/share in conflict.
    Existing claimant A Member with a work/share claim registered with The MLC at the time a catalog transfer is initiated by a new claimant. 
    Full catalog transfer The transfer of all works/shares within a catalog from one Member to another Member. 
    Letter of Direction or LOD Evidence of a Member’s right to claim a catalog in the form of an agreement providing for the Member’s administrative rights, or a short form letter referencing such an agreement and outlining the terms of the Member’s administration rights. 
    Letter of Relinquishment or LOR  Written confirmation by existing claimant(s) that it no longer has the right to maintain a claim to the catalog. The LOR may be in the form of a letter or email from the existing claimant(s). 
    Member At The MLC, a Member is the person or entity that is authorized to administer musical works, and receive digital audio mechanical royalties related to their use.
    Musical work (also referred to as “work”) A musical composition, including any accompanying lyrics. Musical works can include original musical compositions and original arrangements, as well as new versions of original musical compositions and arrangements to which new copyrightable authorship has been added.  
    Musical work claim A work/share claim registered (or to be registered) with The MLC. 
    New claimant A Member who has initiated a claim to works/shares in a full catalog or partial catalog currently registered to existing claimant(s).  
    Ownership The right to receive royalties from the use of a musical work made pursuant to the blanket digital mechanical license.  Ownership may be defined at the work/share level. 
    Partial catalog transfer A claim limited to one or more specific works/shares within a catalog. 
    Publishing administrator  See "administrator" above. 
    Share A percentage of the entire work. 
    Work See also "musical work"
    Work/Share  A musical work, or a share of a musical work, as applicable.