Not only did Kobalt sign a deal with Dave Grohl this week, the company is also formally introducing a new Label Services division that will handle digital and physical releases for independent artists as well as Kobalt clients. Though the division has quietly released several albums in recent months, most notably gospel act Larry Callahan & Selected of God's The Evolution II, it will gain major attention next month with the release of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Push the Sky Away, due out Feb. 18 through Kobalt Label Services (KLS) and Cave's Bad Seed Ltd.
The fifteenth studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away is also Cave's first release without longtime label Mute, with whom he parted ways after Mute parent EMI was sold to Universal. KLS will oversee global distribution of the release via digital retail, direct-to-consumer, physical retail and subscription services, as well as handle all marketing, promotion, advanced data analytics, royalty tracking and synch licensing duties, among other services. The album will be released on CD, limited CD-DVD, vinyl and digital formats, with KLS' marketing efforts focused on boosting Cave's profile in North America and among digital music consumers.
"The opportunity is great with Nick...The last record was barely double digits as far as the percentage of digital in overall sales," says Richard Sanders, president of Kobalt Music Group, of Cave's last Mute record, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!.
The release will also be supported by four intimate concerts from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in London (Feb. 10), Paris (Feb. 11), Berlin (Feb. 13) and Los Angeles (Feb. 21), featuring strings and a choir. Each show will feature the screening of a short film about the making of Push the Sky Away from filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. The shows will likely by streamed by soon-to-be-announced distribution partners.
Cave's navigation of the D.I.Y. route for the first time is also aided by his manager, ATC's Brian Message, who also guided his client Radiohead through its groundbreaking pay-what-you-want release of 2007's In Rainbows. "Brian's very forward thinking, and working with Radiohead and Sarah Brightman and others to do things differently," Sanders says. "He isn't afraid of the D.I.Y. model and he was comfortable with our model."
Added Message in a statement, "The Push The Sky Away album campaign represents the start of a new, exciting and inspiring chapter for Nick, both creatively and in business. The skills and expertise KLS has to offer across the globe, especially in the digital space, gives us a service provider that best fits our expanding requirements."
KLS is the latest example of a non-record label adding its own label-services divisions, from distributors like RED to publishers like Primary Wave and Nashville's Sea Gayle to management companies like The Collective. But Sanders wants Kobalt's to be industry leading by putting up "a fairly substantial capital investment from our part" for marketing and distribution to a rev-share that's "certainly far better than the 85/15 you'd get from a major label or a major indie. Clients retain 100% control, and the terms are quite short. It's one record for three years. Completely customizable to either a local release or a regional release or territory-by-territory release."