The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has named industry executive Kris Ahrend as the organization’s CEO. Nashville-based Ahrend will begin his tenure with the MLC, effective immediately. According to a spokesperson for the organization, one of Ahrend’s first tasks will include finalizing the official location for the MLC.
MLC Board Chair Alisa Coleman said, “Kris was selected by our Board after a months-long competitive process; both his background and vision stood out amongst many qualified candidates. The unique combination of his experience with license administration, his tenure as a business and legal affairs executive in the music industry, and his most recent involvement in leading the design and operation of a large client service organization makes him well-suited to operate the MLC. He has spent his career making sure artists and songwriters get paid, and the Board is thrilled to have found someone whose passion and expertise align so well with the mission of the MLC.”
Ahrend added, “Nothing could be more exciting than leading a company that helps ensure songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers receive the money they deserve from digital service providers and offers them new tools to take control of their careers. We will provide songwriters and publishers unprecedented transparency, rights, and the ability to claim what is theirs. Through the MLC, we are committed to improving the system for everyone.”
A graduate of Binghamton University and the Washington & Lee School of Law, Ahrend worked as a law clerk for the Western District of the Virginia District Court and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals before joining the Intellectual Property & Litigation Group of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP in New York. Ahrend began his career in the music industry working in the Law Department at Sony Music, where he provided legal services to all of Sony’s US divisions, including its publishing company. He subsequently worked in the business and legal affairs department at Sony BMG Music Entertainment before accepting a senior executive role at Rhino Entertainment.
In 2013, Ahrend left Rhino to assume a senior executive role within Warner Music Group, where he led a large legal, financial, and administrative shared services organization that he helped to create. In 2016, Ahrend was promoted to President of U.S. Shared Services and tapped to lead the development and launch of Warner Music’s new Center of Excellence for Shared Services in Nashville, where he oversaw the operations of fifteen different functional teams providing a variety of administrative, financial, and legal services to Warner Music’s U.S.-based publishing teams, record labels, and corporate divisions.
He serves on the boards of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Downtown Partnership, and is a member of the Music City Music Council.
The Mechanical Licensing Collective was designated by the United States Copyright Office, and created by U.S. music publishers and songwriters (backed by the National Music Publishers’ Association, the Nashville Songwriters Association International and the Songwriters of North America), as a new entity to license and administer rights under the Music Modernization Act which was signed into law in 2018. The law ensures that the mechanical rights of songwriters and music publishers are properly licensed and royalties fully paid by digital services, and it improves how those royalty rates are determined. It also establishes a publicly accessible mechanical rights database to ensure accurate, transparent copyright ownership information.
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