Kobalt Music Group
Twitter: @KobaltMusic 
POWER MOVE: New partnership with STIM means Kobalt clients can access EU revenue much faster; new label services department means Kobalt has more than publishing to offer artists.
THE RUNDOWN: Willard Ahdritz had a distinct vision in mind when he put together the first slide presentation announcing his Kobalt Music Group in 2000: Kobalt would pay artists more money faster than any other publishing company, and with more transparency. Twelve years later, boasting more than 1,200 clients and a catalog of 250,000-plus copyrights, Kobalt has now developed enough revenue (an estimated $125 million in its 2012 fiscal year) and market share to become the fourth-largest publisher following the Sony/ATV-EMI merger, according to the Harry Fox Agency.
The payment speed and business transparency regarding Ahdritz’s company increased at MIDEM in January, when Kobalt announced a partnership with the Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM) affecting Kobalt’s overseas rights for digital services in all 27 member countries of the European Union. The new service lets clients access their revenue as soon as one month after the music is used -- far faster than other publishers’ usual nine- to 12-month windows.
“The vision is coming through executed,” Ahdritz says. “The speed of change is increasing, as there’s been an enormous shift from PC to mobile music usage over the last 12 months. The exciting part is activating mobile payments on a global scale.” No wonder Kobalt recently added Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles catalog and, beginning next year, all of Dave Grohl’s Nirvana and Foo Fighters copyrights to its already impressive roster.
Kobalt offers more than publishing skills to its artists. A new label services division, KLS, has just released Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ first album without longtime label Mute, and other high-profile clients will also release material on KLS later this year.
Willard Ahdritz photo by Matt Furman