Kobalt's AMRA Signs Global Deal With YouTube for Royalty Collection

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Kobalt's performance rights organization signs a very large client.

AMRA, the music rights organization acquired by Kobalt in June, has signed a global deal with YouTube to collect music royalties on videos on the site, covering more than 100 territories around the world.

The deal excludes North America, and instances where a Kobalt writer has signed directly to an existing European society. In the latter instance, a writer would have to withdraw, at least, digital rights from those societies before AMRA could collect royalties for them, which some have, according to Kobalt.

The YouTube deal creates efficiencies and generates a greater return for Kobalt/AMRA writers, since the various collection societies won't be taking a cut in each territory from the royalties paid out by YouTube. The industry "can't spend $5 to collect $1 of royalty revenue in every country," Kobalt founder and CEO Willard Ahdritz says. "Each country doesn't have its own Visa and MasterCard platform." Those brands have global platforms, which helps cuts down on costs, Ahdritz explains in comparing the credit card operations to AMRA.

Based on past experience with Apple and Spotify in Europe, Ahdritz claims the YouTube deal will allow AMRA to lift revenue, lower costs and cut down on the time it takes for writers to receive their royalties from around the world.

"The volume and speed, particularly on a global scale, of collecting this revenue from millions of videos is extremely complex," according to an AMRA statement. "This deal accelerates that process and makes it easier by streamlining collections. As a result, AMRA's songwriter and artist clients will see more revenue at a faster speed."

As part of the deal, Kobalt/AMRA will now be able to tell its clients in real time where their songs are being played across billions of transactions around the globe. "AMRA's global deal will help ensure that Kobalt clients are paid as quickly and accurately as possible," Ahdritz says.

In addition to Kobalt clients, AMRA also represents 200 clients that were with the service when Kobalt acquired the company. AMRA has since signed on another 30 or so songwriters.

Correction, 10:58AM, Oct. 26: This article originally stated AMRA's deal would only cover royalty collections for user-uploaded videos on YouTube -- it will in fact cover all videos on the platform.