Dec 6–8, 2022San Francisco


Tuning the Streams for Music Artists

Track: Case Studies

This story is about Kobalt Music Group, founded in 2000 in New York City, with founder Willard Ahdritz, a native of Sweden. Kobalt's initial business model focused on collecting and distributing royalties for artists, with the stated goal of ensuring artists were paid appropriately and promptly. When Kobalt collects royalties for an artist, it tracks thousands of data points. For example, a single global hit that pulled in £4.8 million in sales uses up to 60 pieces of metadata—crucial identifiers to make sure the right people get paid. These include industry codes for the song’s 5 writers, 5 publishers, 9 lead musicians and session musicians, 11 officially recorded versions of the song, and 8 official remixes. Royalties flowed in from 100 territories worldwide. Spotify streamed it 170 million times to 3.2 million listeners before it was pulled. Kobalt collected micropayments on each of these uses directly from these platforms, putting it up on its portal line by line in real time.