Kobalt Music founder Willard Ahdritz received the “Innovator Award” at this year’s Music Biz Conference in Nashville
Ahdritz took part in a keynote conversation at the event on Tuesday (May 16).
While on stage, he shared his views on the future of the music industry and discussed a key strategic part of Kobalt he founded in 2015: global digital collection society, AMRA.
According to Music Biz, its Innovator Award honors, “those who seek to challenge the standards of music creation and commerce, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with astounding results”.
The first Music Biz Innovator Award was given during Music Biz 2015 to Jack White — songwriter, producer, and founding member of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs — for the ULTRA LP release of his Lazaretto solo record, which, according to Music Biz, “uniquely married the classic vinyl format with modern day technology”.
After being founded in 2000, Kobalt Music Group revolutionized the technological nature of the modern music business.
The company, founded by its Chairman, Swedish exec Willard Ahdritz, built its reputation in the world of music publishing, with flagship early signings including the likes of Max Martin and Sir Paul McCartney (via McCartney’s MPL), both of whom remain clients to this day.
Kobalt’s ethos, globally, is to allow musical creators to continue owning their copyrights even after they sign to the company.
The company previously operated across a number verticals including Kobalt Music Publishing, Kobalt Neighbouring Rights (KNR) and AWAL.
In May 2021, Kobalt Music Group announced it had sold both AWAL and Kobalt Neighbouring Rights to Sony Music Entertainment in a $430 million deal.
Today, Kobalt owns Kobalt Music Publishing plus its in-house digital collection society, AMRA.
In 2014, Kobalt acquired the American Mechanical Rights Agency, which it re-launched as AMRA in 2015 as a separately-run global royalty collection society for its clients and its fellow publishers.
In addition to these divisions, Kobalt Music Group also handles the administration of copyrights acquired by two royalty funds that are managed by Kobalt Capital Ltd.
Using those funds, Kobalt Capital Ltd acquired SONGS Music Publishing from founder Matt Pincus for approximately $160m in December 2017.
“With over 20 years of working for changing the industry to be a more fair and transparent industry using big tech to be able to run it, I am very happy to receive this award.”
Commenting on the award, Ahdritz said: “With over 20 years of working for changing the industry to be a more fair and transparent industry using big tech to be able to run it, I am very happy to receive this award.
“As I noted on stage, we are in the middle of this big digital transformation and there are still many more opportunities for innovation and monetization for the music industry.
“We at Kobalt and AMRA will continue to inspire and pioneer a great industry for all creators and rights owners.
“It’s safe to say that the music industry as we know it today was uniquely shaped by the pioneering mind of Willard Ahdritz.”
Portia Sabin, Music Biz
Portia Sabin, Music Biz President, added: “It’s safe to say that the music industry as we know it today was uniquely shaped by the pioneering mind of Willard Ahdritz,
“His foresight regarding the coming changes in the marketplace combined with his ability to reimagine standard practices has been a dynamite recipe for commercial success. For these reasons and more, we’re honored to present Willard with Music Biz’s Innovator Award.”
Music Business Worldwide