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Kobalt expands AWAL brand

By | Published on Friday 9 March 2018


Kobalt yesterday announced that all of its recording activities would now sit under the AWAL brand. At the same time it committed to invest £150 million into working with recording artists, while hiring 100 new employees for the AWAL business and launching a range of new tech products to support the distribution and marketing of recordings.

The original Kobalt business was mainly focused on managing and administrating song rights, though it subsequently moved into the recordings side of music, acquiring DIY music distribution platform AWAL, launching the Kobalt label services division, and setting up a unit that manages the so called ‘neighbouring rights’ of recording artists.

Both the original AWAL distribution service and what had become known as Kobalt Music Recordings will operate under the single AWAL brand. As before, it will work with recording artists on a number of different levels, meaning that it offers acts a number of the different deal types identified in The Deals Guide produced by CMU Insights for the Music Managers Forum last year.

At all those levels AWAL still operates as a service provider rather than a conventional label which takes ownership in the recording rights of the artists. AWAL originally stood for ‘Artist Without A Label’ after all, so it can’t really become a label itself in the true sense of the word.

Announcing the rebrand of the recordings side of the business and the new push to grow it, Kobalt chief Willard Ahdritz said yesterday: “We’re levelling the playing field. 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”.

He went on: “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”.

Meanwhile Lonny Olinick, who became CEO of the recordings side of Kobalt in January, added: “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”.

He added: “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”.

CMU’s Chris Cooke will be in conversation with Kobalt boss Ahdritz at The Great Escape this year, and among other things will discuss his ambitions for the recordings side of the Kobalt business. More info on the TGE:CONVENTION is available here.