English modern rock singer-writer Richard Ashcroft has signed an exclusive worldwide administration pact with London-based independent music publisher Kobalt Music Group.

English modern rock singer-writer Richard Ashcroft has signed an exclusive worldwide administration pact with London-based independent music publisher Kobalt Music Group.

Under the terms of the deal, unveiled today (March 22), Kobalt will represent the material on Ashcroft's third solo album "Keys To the World" (Parlophone). Kobalt will also exploit the former Verve frontman's new and future works for use in film, TV, advertising and other media.

EMI Music Publishing retains the rights for his earlier works.

"Keys To the World" opened at No. 2 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart in early February, underpinning a No. 4 bow on Billboard's Top 100 Albums chart. First single from the album "Break the Night With Colour" peaked at No. 3 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart. The album was released yesterday in the United States through Virgin.

Ashcroft is currently opening for Coldplay on a string of dates in the United States and Canada. He performs tonight (March 22) in Toronto.

Ashcroft marked his return as a solo artist with a performance at the London leg of last summer's Live 8 concert, where he played the Verve's 1997 hit "Bittersweet Symphony" with backing from Coldplay. Coldplay's singer Chris Martin told the audience it was "the best song ever written, sung by the best singer in the world."

Kobalt's clients include the James Brown, Hives, Max Martin, Nine Inch Nails, Sanctuary Music Publishing and Gwen Stefani.

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