Music Row: The MLC CEO Kris Ahrend Talks Serving Songwriters, Preparing The Industry’s Next Generation

In January, it was announced that Kris Ahrend had joined as CEO of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), which was formed following the passage of the Music Modernization Act in 2018. In 2019, the Register of Copyrights designated the MLC as the non-profit organization responsible for administering blanket mechanical licenses to digital services such as Amazon Music, Apple, Spotify and Tidal, and for distributing those royalties to publishers and self-administered songwriters.

The Nashville-based MLC recently announced a slate of executive hirings to help Ahrend lead the organization, which currently includes 20 employees, with plans to ultimately form a team of nearly 100 employees.

“The MLC represents one of those changes that transforms the music business, once every generation or two,” Ahrend says. “You have to go back to the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to see the last kind of moment where our industry changed. Sound Exchange later came into being as an organization that helped to really transform an aspect of the business. The MLC will be similarly transformative. I’m very privileged to be asked to lead an organization that is going to have the potential to drive that transformation for our industry and the next chance to do that might not come for another 15 or 20 years. I didn’t want to miss the chance to be part of that change.

“Every songwriter in the country and many songwriters around the world will ultimately be getting paid a portion of their revenue from an organization based in Nashville,” he says.

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"The MLC is unique in that our board that governs us consists entirely of people who represent the stakeholders we will serve. We are essentially an organization that is managed by songwriters for the benefit of songwriters, and managed by publishers for the benefit of publishers."