Please note: The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) does not administer master-use licenses or distribute master-use royalties. 

 

A master-use license grants permission to use a specific sound recording in a visual medium (such as a film, television show, or video game) or an audio project (such as using a sample in a new sound recording). It is also referred to as a “master license” or “master rights.”  

 

A master-use license can only be issued to one sound recording – for example, if you want to use several songs from the same album, you would need to obtain a master-use license for each individual song. 


A master-use license pays a royalty (sometimes called a "master royalty") to the copyright owner of the sound recording requested, which is often the record company. The party that obtains the master-use license pays royalties to the record company, and the record company pays the artist a portion of the revenue based on their legal agreement. For self-releasing artists, the royalty goes directly from the music distributor to the artist.