Willard Ahdritz (pictured) and Laurent Hubert have spoken to Music Week about their new roles as chairman and CEO of Kobalt.
Hubert took over as CEO in January, with founder Ahdritz moving ‘upstairs’ to the chairman’s role. And the pair – who recently talked Music Week through their 2019 financial figures – said it had been a smooth transition to their new roles.
“I know we have not spoken about this directly since Laurent came in, but this was our long-term plan,” said Ahdritz. “Two and a half years ago, Laurent took my NMPA board seat and the ASCAP seat. He took on the publishing operation and neighbouring rights and now, it was very clear dividing up my job between me and Laurent was the right thing to do. I continue to focus on key commercial relationships, work on strategy with Laurent and innovation with the tech team. We have continued to execute our mission ambition. I am as excited as I was before and, after 20 years, it is nice to be able to focus on what I think is of key importance to Kobalt’s next phase.”
“It’s a natural evolution,” added Hubert. “Willard and I have been talking about this for two years now. It’s a good separation of our core skillsets, which are very complementary. I have taken day-to-day operation of the business but in reality it’s still very much the way we operated before, so there aren’t any huge changes from that perspective. It’s working well.”
As revealed by Music Week last month, Kobalt has declared the group will be profitable for the first time by the end of financial year 2021. And it will be Hubert as CEO that is charged with delivering that profitability.
“No pressure!” Hubert quipped, before Ahdritz interjected: “As an entrepreneur, I have never blamed anyone else. I can’t blame someone else because [Kobalt] is very much my baby. As Laurent says, it’s a partnership and it’s been about teamwork both pre and post our change of roles. That is the way I like to work, in a team.”
And, despite the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Hubert said he was “still very optimistic” about the future.
“We will overcome this,” he said. “I know it seems uncertain and difficult today but one of our missions here is to convey that we should be optimistic about the future. It’s a big bump in the road, but we’ll get to the other side of this.”
* To read Ahdritz and Hubert on Kobalt’s financial year, click here. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.