Kobalt Music Group

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Kobalt Music Group
Private company
IndustryMusic industry
Founded2000, London, United Kingdom
FounderWillard Ahdritz
New York
Area served
Key people
Willard Ahdritz (CEO)
ServicesPublishing, neighbouring rights, label services
SubsidiariesKobalt Label Services (KLS), Kobalt Neighboring Rights (KNR), Kobalt Music Publishing (KMP)
Footnotes / references
Auto-distributed in the UK, international distribution by Sony Music Entertainment

Kobalt Music Group is an independent rights management and publishing company. Founded in 2000 by CEO Willard Ahdritz,[1] Kobalt acts primarily as an administrative publishing company, not owning any copyrights. Also offering label services and neighboring rights,[1] the company has developed an online portal to provide royalty income and activity to artists and allow them to manage their rights and royalties directly.[2]

Wired reported in 2015 that Kobalt was "the top independent music publisher in the UK and the second overall (to Sony/ATV) in the US," with around 600,000 songs and 8,000 artists in its catalogue,[2] including Massive Attack,[3] Trent Reznor,[4] Gwen Stefani,[1] Phoenix,[4] Prince,[5] Sonic Youth, Ellie Goulding,[4] Paul McCartney,[6] Bob Marley,[7] John Denver,[8] Tiesto,[4] Bob Dylan,[4] and Kelly Clarkson.[1][4]

Kobalt owned 17.3% of the top 100 radio songs in the US in of 2015, ranking it third after Universal.[9] With headquarters in New York, Kobalt also has offices in cities such as London, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, Berlin, Stockholm, Miami, Hong Kong, and Sydney.[10] Kobalt paid $29.8 million for the acquisition of Fintage House's Music Companies.[11]


Founding and early years (2000–11)[edit]

Kobalt Music Group was founded in 2000 in New York City, with founder Willard Ahdritz, a native of Sweden, taking on the role of CEO.[2] Together with Klas Lunding Ahdritz had previously launched Telegram Publishing in Stockholm in 1988.[2] Kobalt's initial business model focused on collecting and distributing royalties for artists, with the stated goal of ensuring artists were paid appropriately and promptly.[2] In 2005 the company debuted its Kobalt Label Services Portal,[12] an online portal for artists to track and manage their own portfolios.[2]

Kobalt Music Group won Independent Music Publisher of the Year at the 2009 Music Week Awards,[13] winning the following year as well.[14] Kobalt added a neighboring rights division in 2011.[4] In December 2011, Kobalt bought Artists Without a Label (AWAL), a digital distribution and label services company.[2] Kobalt as a result gained access to AWAL's network of digital retail partners, which among other companies included iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, eMusic, Rhapsody, 7Digital, Beatport, Deezer, and Nokia.[15] The acquisition also allowed Kobalt to begin supplying advanced data analytics to clients.[2]

Expansion and new services (2012–14)[edit]

After the AWAL acquisition, Kobalt formed the label services division Kobalt Label Services in 2012.[15] In July 2012, Kobalt Music Group signed a deal with MPL Communications to exclusively provide administrative services to MPL in "the world outside North America, the U.K. and Ireland." The catalog included 1,200 songwriters such as Hugh Masekela and Paul McCartney, with classic songs such as "Baby It's Cold Outside" and "Luck Be A Lady."[6] Prince signed a deal in May 2013 to market and distribute his work with Kobalt, with his rights over his masters left intact.[5]

Recent developments (2014–present)[edit]

In 2014 Kobalt purchased the American Mechanical Rights Agency (AMRA), a collection agency.[16] Kobalt announced that it was preparing to expand into the Latin American market in April 2014,[17] and that June the company raised US$140 million in funding to "accelerate rapid growth"[18] and that year Kobalt also raised US$66 million from investors such as MSD Capital.[9]

In February 2015, Google Ventures in London made Kobalt its inaugural investment, with Google Ventures' president explaining that Kobalt was "changing the way artists are treated in the music business, particularly when it comes to providing trust and transparency and compensating creators for their work."[2] Google Ventures (with MSD Capital once again investing) raised US$60 million for the company[9] in a Series C round of financing,[19] which Kobalt announced would largely be used to develop their technology and open new offices in Miami, Brazil, and South East Asia.[20] This brought the total of equity raised by Kobalt to $126 million.[20] At that point, Kobalt had also invested $100 million of the initial $153 million it had raised to "help finance a second strand of its business – label services where Kobalt either buys part or all of an artists' rights to help collect royalties on their behalf."[20]

Wired reported in May 2015 that Kobalt was "the top independent music publisher in the UK and the second overall (to Sony/ATV) in the US," with around 8,000 artists and 600,000 songs in their catalogue.[2] At the time, Kobalt continued to collect royalty money directly from services such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and various collection agencies.[2]

In December 2017, Kobalt acquired SONGS for an estimated $150 million.[21]

With headquarters in London, Kobalt currently has offices in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, Berlin, Stockholm, Miami, Hong Kong, and Sydney.[10]


Kobalt has developed a number of technologies to increase its own efficiency at tracking and collecting royalties.[22][23] In 2005 the company debuted its Kobalt Portal,[12] an online portal for artists to track and manage their own portfolios.[2] In 2014, Kobalt introduced ProKlaim, a YouTube integration that by 2014 had significantly increased artist revenue on the platform. ProKlaim serves as an "advanced detection platform" by integrating with YouTube's own music detection technology.[24] As of 2015, Kobalt had started describing their backend technology as "KORE."[25][26] KORE manages rights, and tracks, collects and pay royalties across disparate markets, with the collected data accessible through the Kobalt Portal.[26]


Division Formed Description
Kobalt Music Publishing 2001 Kobalt Music Publishing (KMP) is an independent, private music publisher that also provides creative services to artists.[2] Explains The Telegraph, "the company aims to offer its clients a 'transparent' fee model, using sophisticated algorithms to monitor and collect music royalties from all areas of digital output, and breaking down these earnings for artists."[9] As of February 2015, Kobalt owned 17.3% of the total market share among worldwide music publishers, ranking it second in the world after Universal.[9]
Kobalt Neighboring Rights 2011 Formed in 2011,[4] Kobalt Neighboring Rights (KNR) claims neighbouring rights royalties owed from collection societies on behalf of all KNR clients,[27] navigating the royalties laws of separate countries.[4] This division oversees the Kobalt Portal, which allows artists to access their financial data in real time.[4]
Kobalt Label Services 2012 Introduced in January 2012,[15] Kobalt Label Services (KLS) was founded when Kobalt acquired digital distributor AWAL.[28] Kobalt Label Services provides record label services to artists,[27] receiving a share of revenues, while artists retain ownership of their master rights.[5] According to The Independent, the division allows artists to "maintain ownership of their work and control over when, how and where they will release their music."[5]

Current catalogue[edit]

Kobalt currently has licensing deals with around 8,000 artists and 600 publishing companies, representing a catalogue that totals around 600,000 songs.[4]

Selected publishers[edit]

The following publishers are currently signed to Kobalt Music Group:[4]

Selected artists[edit]

The following artists have a significant portion of their catalog, if not all, currently overseen by Kobalt Music Group:

Kobalt Neighboring Rights[4]
Kobalt Label Services[4]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The following is an incomplete list of awards won by Kobalt Music Group:

  • 2009: Music Week Awards – Independent Music Publisher of the Year[13]
  • 2010: Music Week Awards – Independent Music Publisher of the Year[14]
  • 2011: Music Week Awards – Independent Music Publisher of the Year
  • 2012: Music Week Awards – Independent Music Publisher of the Year
  • 2013: Music Week Awards – Independent Music Publisher of the Year
  • 2014: Music Week Awards – Independent Music Publisher of the Year
  • 2015: Music Week Awards – Independent Music Publisher of the Year
  • 2016: Music Week Awards – Independent Music Publisher of the Year[65]
  • 2017: Music Week Awards – Publisher of the Year

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Alberti, Alexander. "Kobalt Music Group: Redefining Music Publishing". Music Business Journal (online ed.). Berklee College of Music.[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gray, Kevin (1 May 2015). "Kobalt changed the rules of the music industry using data – and saved it". Wired. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  3. ^ "HFA Songfile". secure.harryfox.com.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz ea eb ec ed ee ef eg eh ei ej ek el em en eo ep eq er es et eu ev ew ex ey ez fa fb fc fd fe ff fg fh fi fj fk fl fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw fx fy fz ga gb gc gd ge gf gg "Yearly Report" (PDF). Kobalt Media – 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Casciato, Paul (21 May 2013). "Prince signs new deal with record label Kobalt Music Group without giving up control over his rights". The Independent. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Christman, Ed. "Exclusive: Publishing Briefs: Kobalt Music Group Inks Deal With Paul McCartney, MPL CommunicationsRelease". Billboard. (24 July 2012)
  7. ^ a b "Publishing Briefs: Kobalt Picks Up Blue Mountain Music, Downtown Signs Sturgill Simpson, More". Billboard. 30 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Publishing Briefs: Spirit Picks Up StyleSonic Catalog, ole Takes Jingle Punks and John Denver to Kobalt". Billboard. 23 March 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e Anderson, Elizabeth (27 February 2015). "Kobalt secures $60m of Google-linked funding". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Locations". Kobaltmusic.com. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Kobalt paid $29.8m for Fintage House's music companies - Music Business Worldwide". Music Business Worldwide. 9 April 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  12. ^ a b Christman, Ed (2 December 2014). "Kobalt Unveils Label Services Portal, A Powerful New Set of Tools for Artists". Billboard. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Kobalt Music Group Wins Independent Music Publisher of the Year". kobaltmusic.com. 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Kobalt wins Independent Music Publisher of The Year Award". IDM Music. 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  15. ^ a b c d "Kobalt Music Group Expands into Artist and Label Services, Digital Distribution and Neighbouring Rights, Marking an Industry Evolution into a New Class of Service-Oriented Music Company" (Press release). Kobalt Music Group. 23 January 2012.
  16. ^ a b c d e Sisario, Ben (3 June 2015). "Going to the Ends of the Earth to Get the Most Out of Music". New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  17. ^ Liggins, Hassahn (10 April 2014). "Kobalt Music Group Ready to Expand into Latin America". RadioFacts. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  18. ^ Ulloa, ina (4 June 2014). "Kobalt Raises $140 Million in Latest Round of Funding". Digital Music News. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  19. ^ "Kobalt Music". CrunchBase. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  20. ^ a b c Lunden, Ingrid (25 February 2015). "Kobalt Tunes Into $60M Led By Google Ventures For Its Music Rights Collection Platform". TechCrunch. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  21. ^ Shirley Halperin and Jem Aswad. "Songs Music Publishing Sold to Kobalt for $150 Million". Variety. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  22. ^ Ingham, Tim (30 October 2015). "Kobalt: We'll grow YouTube revenues by 50% for AMRA clients". Music Business Worldwide. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  23. ^ "Kobalt: ProKlaim has rocketed YouTube revenue for artists". Music Business Worldwide. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  24. ^ "KORE trademark details". Justia. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  25. ^ a b Lunden, Ingrid (8 June 2015). "Kobalt Quietly Acquired AMRA To Launch Its Own Global Collection Group For Digital Music". TechCrunch. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Services". kobaltmusic.com. Archived from the original on 15 April 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  27. ^ Skates, Sarah (23 January 2012). "Kobalt Expands into Label Services With Major Acquisition". MusicRow. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  28. ^ Brandle, Lars (5 March 2013). "Kobalt Strikes Australasian Sub-Pub Deal With Disney". Billboard.com. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  29. ^ "Kobalt Music signs global deal with Eric Church's publishing company Little Louder - Music Business Worldwide". 13 December 2017.
  30. ^ "Kobalt Investment Fund Acquires Bulk of Nettwerk's 30-Year Publishing Catalog".
  31. ^ "Songs, Music Publisher of Lorde and Diplo, Bought by Kobalt".
  32. ^ "Kobalt Music Acquires B-52's Publishing Rights". The Hollywood Reporter. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  33. ^ Rhian, Jones (14 February 2014). "Band of Skulls manager and label on unique financial backing". Music Week. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  34. ^ "Futher [sic] Dealings: Michael Dell Takes Kobalt Stake, New Joint Venture Signs Ex-Village Person". Billboardbiz. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  35. ^ Stovin, Jack. "Black Submarine Announce Debut Album 'New Shores'". AltSounds. Archived from the original on 13 June 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  36. ^ Wenzel, John (20 July 2014). "Blonde Redhead to fine-tune new album at 2014 UMS appearance". The Denver Post Music. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  37. ^ "Busta Rhymes Goes Independent With Publishing Deal". All Hip Hop. 20 July 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  38. ^ Malt, Andy (25 June 2014). "Julian Casablancas's Cult Records does label services deal with Kobalt". Complete Music Update. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  39. ^ a b c d Cooke, Chris (20 January 2014). "Kobalt announces new neighbouring rights signees". Complete Music Update. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  40. ^ Brandle, Lars (25 August 2005). "Kobalt Strikes Admin Pact With Gottwald". Billboard.com. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  41. ^ https://allhiphop.com/news/eminem-strikes-worldwide-publishing-deal-with-kobalt-ShxhpSJLPES6C_MNFb8Udw
  42. ^ Stickler, Jon (29 May 2014). "The Family Rain Announce 'Hunger Sauce' EP". Stereoboard. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  43. ^ Gensler, Andy (23 July 2014). "The Int'l Power Players Speak: Seymour Stein, Martin Mills, Alison Wenham, Frances Moore, Willard Ahdritz on Paul McGuinness, Midem & More (Q&A)". Billboardbiz. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  44. ^ Rolli, Bryan. "Childish Gambino Inks Global Publishing Deal With Kobalt Music".
  45. ^ a b Stassen, Murray (11 July 2014). "Kobalt Neighbouring Rights signs Kravitz, Chili Peppers, Akon and more". Music Week. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  46. ^ Rys, Dan (22 January 2013). "Kobalt Seals Exclusive Worldwide Administration Deal With Dave Grohl". Billboard. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  47. ^ "David Guetta Signs Worldwide Publishing Deal With Kobalt Music".
  48. ^ Stassen, Murray (25 June 2014). "Kobalt Label Services partners with Cult Records". Music Week. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  49. ^ "Kobalt Music Signs Enrique Iglesias to Publishing Deal".
  50. ^ "Roster". Kobalt Music.
  51. ^ Shedden, Iain (11 July 2014). "Spiritual Courtney Love is back on tour with her wild daze behind her". The Australian – Arts. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  52. ^ Christman, Ed (20 February 2015). "How 'Shake It Off' Ruled the Publishing Industry's Fourth Quarter in 2014". Billboard. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  53. ^ a b Hampp, Andrew. "Exclusive: Kobalt Launches Label Services Division, Preps New Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Release". Billboard. (22 January 2013)
  54. ^ "Kobalt announces Elvis Presley publishing deal".
  55. ^ "Prince Royce Signs Publishing Deal With Kobalt Music: Exclusive".
  56. ^ "Kobalt signs Rudimental to worldwide publishing agreement - Music Business Worldwide". 1 September 2017.
  57. ^ Danton, Eric (15 April 2014). "Adele's Collaborator Dan Wilson Goes Solo With an Album". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  58. ^ Peters, Mitchell (30 August 2013). "New Signings: Boy George Signs with Kobalt, Rick Ross to ICM Partners, BMG Chrysalis US Land the Orwells". Billboardbiz. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  59. ^ "Two months after Warner sale, Chrysalis signs with Kobalt Label Services - Music Business Worldwide". 3 August 2016.
  60. ^ Malt, Andy (8 October 2015). "Deadmau5 quits Universal for Kobalt". Complete Music Update. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  61. ^ Brandle, Lars (1 April 2014). "David Gray Inks Deal to Release 'Mutineers' Album, Debuts New Song". Billboard. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  62. ^ Mitchell, Peters (16 June 2014). "Billy Idol to Release First New Album in Nearly A Decade". Billboard. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  63. ^ "Kobalt signs The Kooks to recordings deal".
  64. ^ "Music Week Awards 2016 – all the winners". Music Week. 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.

External links[edit]