The MLC's Kris Ahrend on the Complexities of Royalties

August 23, 2021

Growing up as a musician and music fan, Kris Ahrend eventually leveraged his law degree into a career in the music industry. After working for Sony Music Entertainment, Rhino Entertainment Company, and Warner Music Group, he became the CEO of the nonprofit Mechanical Licensing Collective, established in response to the historic Music Modernization Act of 2018. Kris sits down with Brian and Nick to discuss the complexities and nuances of the royalty system, and how the MLC works to collect and distribute the money that many musicians might miss out on from their own mechanical royalties. To date, the MLC has already distributed over 139 million dollars in royalties to artists.

Show Notes

[1:45] Kris reflects on his roots as a musician, and the transition of his career to the law side of the music business.

[7:18] Kris speaks on the origins of The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), and why it was a necessary response to the rise of digital services such as Spotify and Apple Music, and the coinciding exponential growth of music catalogs.

[11:15] Kris defines the differences between mechanical royalties and performing royalties, and how The MLC helps right holders claim their mechanical royalties in the United States.

[20:22] Kris explains why DIY, or “indie,” musicians might be missing out on royalties, and how they can avoid leaving money on the table by understanding the digital royalties landscape and the four revenue streams.

[28:50] Kris informs the audience on how to retroactively retrieve uncollected mechanical royalties from The MLC, and breaks down a practical example of how receiving royalties works for the average independent musician.

For more help understanding royalties, visit The Mechanical Licensing Collective at