Kobalt Music Group is 20 years old this year – and the exec who founded the company, Willard Ahdritz, has a new role.
Ahdritz is relinquishing his position as Kobalt CEO, MBW can reveal, with well-regarded Laurent Hubert succeeding Ahdritz as chief exec.
Ahdritz will instead become Chairman of Kobalt, in a change that will take effect this week. According to company documents seen by MBW, Ahdritz maintains significant voting rights in Kobalt due to his personal shareholdings in the company.
Speaking to MBW in Los Angeles last week during the run-up to the Grammys, Ahdritz explained he was leaving behind the CEO post on a high, with Kobalt Music Group expecting to post approximately $700m in revenues in its fiscal year to the end of June 2020, up by around 20% YoY.
“Together, our job is to amplify Kobalt’s mission and make sure we are as effective as we can be in our respective new roles.”
Laurent Hubert, Kobalt
Kobalt Music Group is the umbrella for Kobalt’s publishing and neighbouring rights companies, in addition to its recorded music services firm, AWAL. Kobalt also runs a global digital collection society, AMRA, with clients including Kobalt Music Publishing, Ole Music Publishing, Spirit Music Publishing, Sentric Music, and songwriter members such as Julia Michaels, Johnny McDaid and Lindy Robbins.
In addition, Kobalt manages a fund for private and institutional investors – Kobalt Capital Ltd – which acquires rights and which Ahdritz calls a “$1.3bn asset management firm”. Ahdritz remains Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at Kobalt Capital, which in 2017 acquired Songs Music Publishing for a pricetag in the region of $160m.
Ahdritz told MBW that his move to Chairman was his idea, and that he will continue to have an active role at Kobalt. He explained how working across Kobalt’s ambitions in music, technology and the M&A world of Kobalt Capital had recently risked leaving him “stretched”, with less time than he would like to nurture key client and commercial relationships and drive forward creative ideas.
“When you’re running a global company of 750 people in 14 offices, sitting in back-to-back meetings, your agenda is always full,” he said. “I’m very pleased that we are taking this step; I know Kobalt and our clients will be better for it. Laurent is an excellent executive. I’m really looking forward to continuing our partnership together and driving Kobalt into the next phase of the company.”
“I’m very pleased that we are taking this step; I know Kobalt and our clients will be better for it.”
Willard Ahdritz, Kobalt (pictured, main)
Laurent Hubert joined Kobalt in October 2016 after leaving his role as President of Marketing & Creative at BMG. In 2017, Hubert was promoted to President & Chief Revenue Officer at Kobalt, succeeding Richard Sanders, and overseeing publishing and neighboring rights.
Hubert told MBW: “Before I joined Kobalt, I competed with [it]. I saw how Kobalt was unique, with such steadiness in its mission: not just to do a better job for creators but to improve the entire [music industry] ecosystem. I believed in that mission, which we will continue.
“Together, our job is to amplify Kobalt’s mission and make sure we are as effective as we can be in our respective new roles. Willard and the team has created the most trusted brand in the business.”Music Business Worldwide