Kobalt Music: publishing company, tech startup, and digital platform

Kobalt Music is a music company, a tech startup, a publishing business and a digital platform. They represent artists and songwriters.

In fact, Kobalt founder & CEO Willard Ahdritz, along with President Laurent Hubert, explained what they’re achieving. Their optimism for the future of songwriters, artists, streaming, and the music industry overall shows. They had an elegant technological solution to problems that have existed in the industry for decades. Furthermore, their solution lets songwriters keep 100% of their rights.

Their publishing roster includes songwriters like ZAYN, Courtney Barnett and, as of this week, Childish Gambino. With 10 creative offices and half a billion dollars in collections, they also run the administration of 600 other music publishers. Plus they created AWAL, a similar service designed for indie artists and bands.

Kobalt states that they are unique in being 100% transparent. Their concept is based on making things easier for artists to get paid. In that sense, Kobalt Music is a service provider. Under normal circumstances, when an artist goes to a major publisher, they own the music rights. To maximize value for them is to minimize the amount they pay artists. As a result, an artist with limited resources is up against a company with all the data, resources, and all of the artist’s money. Therefore there is a disincentive to pay the artist.

In economics, Principal Agent Theory says that aligned interests increase returns. Based on this, Kobalt Music aligns its interests with songwriters. Kobalt’s corporate system is designed to maximize cash flow and be completely transparent. An artist can easily access all data.

About Kobalt Music

Kobalt Music is an independent music services company. Kobalt’s Music Publishing, Label Services, and Neighboring Rights divisions each offer an alternative to the traditional music business model. The company empowers artists, songwriters, publishers, and labels with advanced technology, transparency, flexibility, ownership, and control. Kobalt Music’s innovative technology solutions are designed to maximize efficiency and accuracy across the billions of micro-payments collected in today’s highly complex digital world.

Kobalt Music has over 325 employees in 10 offices around the world. As a result, Kobalt represents over 8,000 artists and songwriters, 600,000 songs, and 600 publishing companies. The company provides them with real-time, powerful, transparent reporting. Kobalt works with some of the world’s greatest artists and songwriters. It represents on average over 40% of the top 100 songs and albums in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Kobalt clients include Maroon 5, Lenny Kravitz, Dave Grohl, Max Martin, Bob Dylan, Pitbull, Ellie Goulding, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, One Republic, Skrillex, Gwen Stefani, Akon, Ryan Tedder, Paul McCartney and MPL Communications, Disney Music Group, and many more.

Kobalt Music states the following as their mission statement:

Regardless of how complex the music industry becomes, Kobalt is determined to create a future where every artist, songwriter and publisher is paid fairly and accurately.

Willard Ajdritz biography

Kobalt Founder Willard Ahdritz

Kobalt Founder Willard Ahdritz grew up playing saxophone in a band growing up in Sweden. He also became interested in dance music. Later, he became friends with an A&R guy and realized that there was enough good music in Sweden to make something happen. By 1986 Clive Davis came to Stockholm, signed all their bands, and they had global hits. “But I saw that songwriters waited three years for publishing money, and you couldn’t understand the statements. The guy running ABBA’s catalog became my mentor. He knew all about global publishing and said, ‘This is just how it is,’ Ahdritz said.

A little later he started working in strategy consulting with companies like British Airways.  Later, he worked with British Telecom. At this time, he saw the billions of transactions planted on smartphones. As a result, it became clear to him that the publishing industry was territorial and local and therefore needed a transformation.

At this time, Ahdritz came up with the idea for Kobalt. Kobalt will be a centralized publishing company. It is run on the same professional-grade technology as demand-side platforms. A demand-side platform (DSP) is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface. Kobalt will also have relationship databases to link songs with products. But most importantly, there would be moral leadership and transparency.

How Kobalt turns a profit without owning copyrights

There are plenty of companies out there that operate and have healthy profits without any type of Intellectual Property ownership. To make a profit, Kobalt relies on growth. Kobalt decided to invest in building the business so that the notion of copyright ownership is not a factor. The company is platform-built. Therefore, scalability is critical to profitability. Kobalt has a service model based on leveraging technology instead of people.

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