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Label News (more headlines) 01-25-2012

Kobalt Music Group Expands Into Artist And Label Services, Digital Distribution, And Neighbouring Rights, Making An Industry Evolution Into A New Class Of Service-Oriented Music Company

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Kobalt Music Group Ltd. (Kobalt) today announced the launch of two new divisions, Artist and Label Services and Neighbouring Rights, as well as the acquisition of AWAL Limited, a leading digital distribution and marketing services provider. The strategic move by the leading global independent publisher's marks its evolution into a broader and new class of service-oriented music company across multiple rights areas, including recorded music, designed to serve client needs.

Kobalt's new Artist and Label Services division is immediately propelled by the company's acquisition ofAWAL, which directly and globally distributes and promotes the recorded music of more than 5,000 independent labels and artists, including Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, the Editors, and Moby, to name a few. 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 among others.

During the coming year Kobalt Artist and Label Services division will roll out next generation services for artists and labels worldwide, empowering recording owners with a similar level of control, transparency, accuracy and efficiency as Kobalt has successfully provided to songwriters and other owners of copyrights. The new services will enable Kobalt and AWAL clients the opportunity to maximize revenues from a wide range of digital retail, subscription, D2C and social media services, and benefit from advanced data analytics.

AWAL, which will remain a standalone company within Kobalt Music Group, additionally offers clients digital retail sales and premium marketing services, aggregated sales reporting from digital sales, an online client dashboard, a synch licensing platform and BuzzDeck 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."

As part of the launch, Ahdritz announced the appointment of Paul Hitchman as Managing Director of Kobalt Artist and Label Services, effective February 1. Hitchman has been co-founder of three of Europe's most innovative and progressive digital music companies, Playlouder, MSP and CI. Prior to founding Playlouder in 2000, Paul worked in A&R at Warner Music UK and was A&R/marketing consultant to Arista/BMG UK, where he also had a label deal for his label, Sugar Records. AWAL's management team of Kevin Bacon, Jonathan Quarmby, Denzyl Feigelson and Paul Bower will remain intact reporting to Paul Hitchman. Furthermore, Kobalt plans to invest and globally scale up AWAL, expanding its staff, suite of services and client base. AWAL will continue to operate independently from its London and Sheffield offices.

Kobalt has also formally launched its neighbouring rights company, Kobalt Neighbouring Rights Limited (KNRL), and hired top global Neighbouring Rights experts.

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

Kobalt's unique, modern and transparent approach to neighbouring rights is geared to simplify a very complex process, maximize earnings and speed up payments to those who are entitled to remuneration, including performers (featured and non-featured) and producers (i.e. the record labels). With more efficient processes and the existing unique global relationship database offering the level of royalty tracking detail, accuracy and faster distributions, Kobalt management believe clients that are eligible for neighbouring rights payments will experience at least 25% uplift inneighbouring rights collections equal to the track record already set by Kobalt's publishing business. KNRL offers a bespoke service with repertoire/database quality control in each territory and utilizes Kobalt's advanced direct collections strategy. In addition, Kobalt is offering tailor-made pipeline advances to clients qualifying for neighbouring rights payments as well as competitive rates.

The combination of "the Kobalt approach" and unique technology platform, together with their superior reputation, expertise and range of contacts, will set another new standard by delivering increased revenues and more tailored services to our clients."

As part of the announcement, van Berkel additionally announced that several major artists and producers have already concluded deals with KNRL and collections are well underway. Kobalt's neighbouring rights processes are in a full scale operational rollout of services worldwide. With 21 global neighbouring rights society relationships already established and clients' direct society registrations, tracking and collections in process, KNRL will execute neighbouringrights payments within 31 days from the end of the month when the money was received. KNRL's first payments to new clients will be issued on January 31, 2012.

Kobalt Music Group, Ltd. is the leading global, service-based music company offering unparalleled transparency, online copyright administration and royalty tracking, creative and synch/licensing services, weekly online balances, digital collections and advances to writers, publishers, performers and other rights holders. With over 125 employees in offices in London, New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, Berlin, Sydney and Stockholm, as well as agents in over 20 major territories, Kobalt administers more than 200,000 copyrights worldwide on behalf of over 1000 content holders, including the world's top songwriters, artists and other music publishers.

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