Recording Data and Rights Standards (RDR)

The exchange of data between music licensing companies, record companies and performer representatives is necessary to meet the administration of the rights of record companies and performers across multiple territories. This includes data about sound recordings, music videos and related sales data used within rights administration.

Data for local repertoire is sourced locally, while non-local data is sourced from international companies and from music licensing companies in other countries. In order to exchange this data efficiently and accurately the RDR standards are used. The RDR standards have been created because the scope of data used within the collective management of related rights is very specific, and is generally, at least indirectly, the subject of national legislation under which music licensing companies operate. In particular, music licensing companies need data which demonstrates that the record companies and/or performers are eligible to receive royalties from the music licensing companies in accordance with national legislation.

 Core concepts

Music licensing companies manage data relating to the administration of the rights in the recordings and the performances on those recordings. Music licensing companies therefore represent the owners of those sound recordings, usually record companies, and all the performers or contributors that appear on those sound recordings.

Specifically, music licensing companies administer rights in what are known as eligible recordings. This includes recordings originating from their territory (local recordings) and those that originate from territories where the recordings are subject to copyright protection similar to that of the local territory (non-local recordings).

In order to do this, music licensing companies have to manage comprehensive data on local and non-local recordings. The data includes:

  • Core repertoire data (including the name of the recording and artist);

  • Data about the performers on the recording;

  • Data about rights and eligibility; and

  • Data that will help to accurately identify the usage of the recordings.

Music licensing companies generally license radio and TV broadcasting, public performances, background music services, non-interactive streaming and dubbing (i.e. the copying of recordings associated with delivering these services) as well as private copying levies. The royalties generated from this licensing is distributed to record companies and performers.

These uses may implicate the right of remuneration and/or exclusive rights and this knowledge base uses the term music licensing company when referring to neighbouring rights societies generally, whether they actually license users or if they only collect the remuneration from users licensed by law.

There are three Recording Data and Rights Standards :

Recording Data and Rights Notification (RDR-N) 
Recording Data and Rights Revenue Reporting (RDR-R)
Recording Data and Rights Choreography (RDR-C)

The three elements of the RDR suite of standards were previously all contained in a single standard which was called the Music Licensing Company Message Suite and Choreography Standard or the MLC standard. However, the creation of The Mechanical Licensing Collective in the US (“the MLC”) as a result of the Music Modernization Act, began to cause considerable and understandable confusion. 

The last version of the Music Licensing Company Message Suite and Choreography is in version 1.4 and is currently the most commonly implemented.

In the process of updating the MLC 1.4 and since April 2020, not only has the name changed to the Recording Data and Rights Standards, but what was one standard has now been split into three: RDR-N in version 1.5 published in March 2021, and, RDR-R and RDR-C both in version 1.0 and both published in October 2020.

The existence of both acronyms in parallel means that some existing documentation about the standard will continue to refer to the MLC Standard. It is recognised that this causes some inconsistencies in some of the text but for the purposes of implementation, the MLC Standard and the Recording Data and Rights Standards are the same and the term MLC Standard will be phased out over time.