Mechanical Licensing Administrator
A mechanical license gives the licensee the permission to create copies of a song, either by re-recording the song with another artist or by printing sheet music of the composition and lyrics. Permission is obtained through an agreement with the copyright holder, which is the songwriter or the music publisher to whom the writer has assigned publishing rights.
The mechanical licensing administrator provides support to the larger mechanical licensing staff, which is chiefly concerned with fielding requests for mechanical rights and tracking the use of those licenses. This includes the review of requests from mechanical licensing societies like the Harry Fox Agency and the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency, including their online licensing systems. The administrator is additionally responsible for maintaining internal tracking systems for the purposes of determining use, applicable fees, royalties, and contract obligations or splits between the publisher and songwriter or songwriters. He or she will regularly prepare reports for the supervisor and manager detailing pertinent tracking and usage data, and input all applicable information about licensing agreements into the department’s database. The administrator must continually audit the database to ensure the accuracy of information, conduct relevant research, and communicate with licensees as necessary. This person will perform other typical office tasks as required by the supervisor and in relation to the administration of mechanical licenses.
Skills & Education
A college degree is required for this position; a major in music business, business administration, communications, or a related field is applicable. A law degree is not required, though coursework in copyright law, communications law, and other related areas is encouraged. This position requires an individual with a strong knowledge of the music industry and the process of music licensing. Advanced computer skills are also a necessity, and proficiency with spreadsheet formulas is a great asset. Organization, attention to detail, and effective communication are required traits of a successful licensing administrator.
What to Expect
The exact duties of this position may vary by employer, and similar administrative roles exist at music publishing houses, record labels, and performing rights organizations. Staff in the mechanical licensing division of the royalty department work closely with the royalty administrators, and likewise with their counterparts at related music companies. Some interaction with songwriters and artists is also common. This is an entry-level position for an individual with the appropriate education, but some prior experience in music licensing is preferred. It is recommended that you complete an internship focusing on licensing and royalty administration before seeking full-time employment. This will afford you the opportunity to become familiar with performing rights organizations, record labels, and music publishers that is invaluable in beginning your career. With at least three years in a permanent position as a mechanical licensing administrator, you may have the opportunity to move up to a supervisory position, and eventually a managerial role.
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