Kobalt Investment Fund Acquires Bulk of Nettwerk's 30-Year Publishing Catalog

Willard Ahdritz, CEO of Kobalt.

Courtesy Kobalt

KMC, the investment fund management arm of Kobalt Music Group, previously known as Kobalt Capitol Ltd., has acquired a significant portion of the Nettwerk Music Group's publishing catalog. As part of the deal, Kobalt's music publishing arm will serve as administrator for Nettwerk's retained publishing titles and all future publishing signings.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The announcement also did not indicate which Nettwerk songwriters and artists were going to Kobalt, or which ones were retained by the Nettwerk Music Group, the indie music company owned and run by chairman CEO Terry McBride.

"In a digital world where streaming has become the predominant way we consume music, it is important that our artists are partnered with the best technology company in the publishing space to see the full value of their creations," McBride said in a statement. "Kobalt simply is the best, and also the most transparent. We are very happy Kobalt will be the new home to Nettwerk's 30+ years of legacy, as well as our partners moving into the future."

According to the Nettwerk website, the music publishing catalog includes songs by 10,000 Maniacs, Teenage Fanclub, Wayne Hancock, the Wild Strawberries, the Submarines, the Lucky Nine, Soulfully, Robert Orrall, Roger Greenaway, Paul Brady, Mutiny Within, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Jesse Malin, Young The Giant, Trivium, Sinead O'Connor, Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy, Delirium, among many others. In addition at the end of 2014, Nettwerk bought a 50 percent interest in the Ten Ten Music Group's catalog.

"I am excited that Kobalt will be servicing KMC's new acquisitions of Nettwerk copyrights with so many great writers and works in their catalog, Kobalt founder and CEO Willard Ahdritz said in a statement. "Terry has built a great company and I'm thrilled to welcome him and his team into the Kobalt family."

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According to sources, the Nettwerk Music Publishing catalog produced about $2 million in net publisher's share -- also known as gross profit after royalties are paid out -- and about one third of that was from administration fees for non-owned songs and catalogs.

Back in April and May of this year, those sources projected that the catalog could sell for $15 million to $25 million. Shot Tower Capitol was the investment bank shopping the assets, which at that time also included the label. But those sources said that while the label was also being shopped, it seemed more likely that McBride would only sell the publishing assets.

At the time, one suitor who looked at all the assets told Billboard, "Its a nice company if you own it, but you need an owner who is devoted to his artists to operate it." Another suitor said the music publishing catalog was a steady earner, but it didn't have a "few monster copyrights" that some suitors like to see when looking at music publishing assets.

KMC CEO Johan Ahlstrom said in a statement, "Today's announcement is a perfect example of the caliber of talent we are investing in here at KMC and we are thrilled to be working with this impressive catalog."