Kobalt has hired former BMG US president of marketing & creative Laurent Hubert to run the new B2B platform division of the rights management and music service company. In this new role as as president, platform and investments, Hubert will “oversee the roll-out of Kobalt’s unique services and powerful technology advantages to other content owners,” according to a company statement.
Formerly based in New York, Hubert will work from Kobalt's offices in Los Angeles. He reports to Kobalt founder and CEO Willard Ahdritz. Hubert left BMG earlier this year and was replaced by Zach Katz.
Hubert's function is two-fold: He will promote Kobalt's services to the wider industry, and he will also chair its investment committee and become a board member of Kobalt Capital, the advisory company for Kobalt’s fund business. In this latter role, Hubert will be sourcing, bringing and executing deals on behalf of Kobalt through acquisitions in the fields of publishing and master assets, among others.
Hubert – a Frenchman who has spent the past 20 years in America, working for BMG Rights Management and previously for BMG Music Publishing – said Kobalt was always considered as a strong competitor by BMG, not least because of its focus on technology and transparency, setting new standards for the industry. “It is something very interesting for me because I always felt that Kobalt was an innovator in our industry,” Hubert told Music Week. “When I spoke to Willard three months ago I told him that Kobalt was badly understood and had the opportunity to be an enabler rather than a competitor. When we talk about platforms, collections and distribution, the industry needs a solution.”
Hubert explained that with the rise of streaming, the volume of transaction has grown in a publishing market dominated by increasing fragmentation of rights. “You can be a publisher and own 7 to 10 % of a title and you will have to deal with 3 to 4 billion transactions linked to that track,” said Hubert, who added that publishers are left with colossal investments in systems to manage the flow of rights which requires capital investment and manpower when instead companies should focus on their strength, which could be in A&R, marketing or licensing.
“You tend to spend more time for less money. We need a solution and Kobalt can provide this solution,” he said. “Kobalt has demonstrated that its technology has resulted in increased royalties so when you combine the increase in royalties with reduced overheads and capital investment, it is a beneficial proposition for the industry. I would like to think that people will be receptive to this argument.”
Hubert said Kobalt's solutions could also extend to performance rights organisations. “The PROs environment is disruptive and they too have to look at alternative solutions.
Ahdritz said Hubert's arrival is “a new major step for Kobalt.” He added, “Our unique centralised organisation and powerful technology platform are delivering an enormous uplift in revenue for our clients. But I believe that every creator should be able to benefit from what we’ve built, whether they are signed directly to Kobalt or not. So I’m thrilled that our new white label platform will be able to deliver that same uplift with total transparency to other publishers and content owners around the world. And Laurent is the perfect person to run it.”