Creative Industries News: Kris Ahrend (The MLC): ‘Our payout rate in the first year was higher than the industry payout rate during the previous three years’

The MLC was launched on January 1, 2021 and has been a game changer for the music publishing community and for self-published songwriters. It has brought efficiency in the collection and distribution of mechanical rights that did not exist previously.

The rights organisation was created by law to collect the proceeds from a blanket license on mechanical rights for digital services. and it is financed by DSPs. The MLC started during the Covid pandemic and a small group of executive around CEO Kris Ahrend built the society from the ground up, mostly remotedly.

Today, the MLC is fully part of the music eco-system. The Nashville-based society has reached in March its first billion dollars in distributions to publishers and songwriters since its inception.

To talk about this milestone and how The MLC is navigating the post-Covid era, Creative Industries News Emmanuel Legrand sat with Ahrend for an extensive zoom chat. Below is an edited version of the conversation.

You are the chief executive of an organisation that was created by law and did not exist three years ago. How do you feel today about The MLC?

Kris Ahrend: I think our entire team feels really proud about the fact that we were able to stand up as a new organisation with such a challenging mission, not only in a short period of time, but in a short period of time when all of us were dealing with an extraordinary challenge, the likes of which none of us had faced before. So to have gotten two years into full operations, to have completed 24 monthly royalty distributions, all on time or early, and to have things running smoothly, feels really good. That said, we also feel a bit the way you feel when you climb a really large mountain.

You climb the first hill or the foothill thinking that’s the mountain because that’s all you can see. And then you arrive at the top only to see that the rest of the mountain is even taller and steeper. So as much as I think we feel proud that we’ve gotten things up and running, we continue to see that significant challenges are in front of us and that there’s a lot more work to be done. But having a foundation underneath us that allows us to tackle those bigger challenges is certainly a positive feeling. 

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