Kobalt Founder Willard Ahdritz Stepping Aside as CEO for Chairman Role

Willard Ahdritz
Courtesy of Kobalt

Willard Ahdritz

Laurent Hubert is taking over as chief executive.

Kobalt founder Willard Ahdritz is stepping aside as CEO of the multi-tiered music company, Billboard has confirmed. The Swedish-born exec will transition to chairman and be replaced at the top by current president and chief revenue officer Laurent Hubert, in changes that take effect this week.

Ahdritz told Music Business Worldwide, which first reported the news, that he’ll continue having an active role at the firm and will remain chief investment officer at Kobalt Capital, the company’s investment advisor arm that purchased SONGS Music Publishing in 2017.

Ahdritz founded Kobalt in 2000. Its three divisions -- music publishing, recordings (via AWAL) and neighbouring rights -- collectively represent 25,000 songwriters, 20,000 indie artists and 600 publishers, which, the company claims, accounts for on average 40 percent of the top 100 songs albums in both the U.K. and U.S.

The Kobalt universe also includes AMRA, the global digital music collection society it acquired in 2015.

"[What] I am most proud of is seeing the music industry transform," Ahdritz says in his entry in the just-released Billboard Power List. "When we started out, words like 'transparency,' 'artist-first,’ 'technology,' 'app’ and 'portal’ were all foreign to the music business. Now they are commonplace."

Hubert arrived at Kobalt in 2016 after previously working at BMG, where he had been president of marketing and creative. Hubert was quickly promoted to president and chief revenue officer, where he was charged with overseeing Kobalt's worldwide music publishing and neighboring rights businesses.

Ahdritz’s transition follows a string of C-suite changes at the music company. In September, Kobalt tapped Silicon Valley veteran Johan Land as its next chief product officer, replacing Simon Dennett, who took up a position as a non-executive board member at AMRA. In late November, the company promoted Jeannette Perez to the newly created position of chief experience officer. Then in December, Avid Larizadeh Duggan exited after less than two years as the company's chief operating officer.