Kobalt is investing $150 million in its label services division to support artist development, make 100 new hires and roll out a new line of technology products, to be showcased at this year’s South by Southwest, the company said Thursday (3/8).
Moving forward, all of Kobalt’s recording business will be combined under the AWAL brand, which will now serve thousands of independent artists with services and products including digital distribution, music-data insights, funding, global marketing, A&R and promotion.
Kobalt is one of many music publishers now growing a label division, as rapid streaming expansion spurs ballooning revenues for the recorded music business. But Kobalt has been making big moves in publishing, too. Last year $600 million was raised by Kobalt Capital in order to acquire new music copyright catalogs, funds tapped for a six-figure purchase of SONGS Music.
Having recently moved into new offices in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, Kobalt also raised $89 million in its Series D round of funding, and has a $150 million debt line that will be used, in part, by AWAL for advances and marketing support to artists, who will still be allowed to maintain ownership over their music. That contrasts with standard practice at other labels and publishers, which tend to make such investments only in exchange for copyright control.
“We’re leveling the playing field,” said Kobalt Music founder and CEO Willard Ahdritz in a statement. “For too long, artists have had to go through the gatekeepers to make a living out of music. Today, artists can build a career without the hangover of a traditional label deal. Hundreds of artists on AWAL are making over $50,000 a year and many earn in the millions without signing away their rights. We are also helping dozens of other independent labels do the same for their artists.”
Some of those independent artists who stand to benefit from AWAL’s expanded offerings are Lauv, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, R3HAB, The Wombats and VÉRITÉ, among others, all of whom work with the company. AWAL is promoting this next step under the label “I Am My Own Label” that’s intended to empower acts to strike out on their own.
Meanwhile, AWAL’s new tech developments include an update to its app with enhanced financial data, which will break down royalty income by artist, track, streaming service, country and more. As well, a seperate new analytics platform will offer artists, managers and independent labels a more in-depth look at data across Apple Music and Spotify to help inform better business decisions.
“There are thousands of artists with real potential today who are lacking a true global partner with the capacity for funding, A&R, music data insights, promotion, distribution and marketing support,” added AWAL CEO Lonny Olinick. “To be able to help all of these artists, you need to understand what level of support and capital artists need at what stage in their career — so they can continue to rise. Through our tech platform and global team with deep industry experience across the globe, AWAL is in a unique position to support both the rising stars and global superstars.”