Kobalt Expands Into Label Services With Major Acquisition

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• January 23, 2012

Kobalt Music Group is expanding with the launch of an Artist and Label Services division, as well as a Neighbouring Rights division.

The Artist and Label Services division is propelled by the company’s acquisition of AWAL, which distributes and promotes the recorded music of more than 5,000 independent labels and artists, including Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, the Editors, and Moby. Through the acquisition, Kobalt obtains access to AWAL’s worldwide distribution network of more than 200 digital retail partners, including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, eMusic, Rhapsody, 7Digital, Beatport, Deezer, Nokia and 247.

During the coming year Kobalt Artist and Label Services division will roll out next generation services for artists and labels worldwide, offering digital retail, subscription, D2C and social media services, and advanced data analytics.

“Our expansion and launch of Kobalt’s Artist and Label Services division and the acquisition of AWAL is a response to our clients’ needs and to a major shift in where we see the market is heading,” said Willard Ahdritz, CEO and Founder of Kobalt Music Group. “With an efficient platform, direct distribution channel, a successful track record and strong management, AWAL was built on similar core values of transparency and integrity as Kobalt was. This acquisition is a building block in Kobalt’s long-term strategy of creating a new kind of full music service alternative for rights holders including artists and labels.”

AWAL will remain a standalone company within Kobalt Music Group. The company is expected to expand and will continue to operate independently from its London and Sheffield offices.

Paul Hitchman will serve as Managing Director of Kobalt Artist and Label Services, effective Feb. 1. Hitchman’s career includes co-founding the European digital music companies Playlouder, MSP and CI, as well as time at Warner Music UK and Arista/BMG UK. AWAL’s management team of Kevin Bacon, Jonathan Quarmby, Denzyl Feigelson and Paul Bower will remain intact reporting to Hitchman.

Kobalt Neighbouring Rights Limited (KNRL) has tapped Hans van Berkel, Founder and former CEO of leading rights society SENA, as KNRL Executive Chairman. In the U.S., John Simson, former executive director of SoundExchange, will serve as U.S. Representative for Artist Relations and Business Development. Sabine Jones, who previously ran neighboring rights societies PAMRA (UK) and SWISSPERFORM, has joined as KNRL Managing Director.

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Sarah Skates is Sr. News Editor of MusicRow Enterprises. Now in her ninth year with the company, she contributes to musicrow.com and the print magazine. She welcomes your inquiries to sskates@musicrow.com. Please send press releases, photos, and news items to news@musicrow.com.

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