Hearst headquarters in New York.


Hearst continues to expand its investment portfolio — and is looking to the music industry.

The entertainment division of the media company said it led a $75 million Series D funding round in music services firm Kobalt Music. Balderton Capital and MSD Capital participated in the investment, according to Hearst, which is a new investor in Kobalt.

Kobalt, which represents artists, publishers and songwriters, will use the funding to grow its global royalty collection platform to meet the demand for the surge in music streaming. Kobalt bills itself as an alternative to the traditional music company, as its business model offers clients more control over royalty collection and transparency. For instance, Kobalt’s platform allows clients to collect royalties faster and more efficiently, and allows them to see when, where and how fans engage with their music.

“From the start, my vision for Kobalt has been to transform the music industry and help take it into the digital age,” said Willard Ahdritz, the company’s founder and chief executive officer. “With the high growth of streaming and the billions of micro-transactions that take place per song, the music industry is more complex than ever. Guided by core principles of transparency, technology and putting creators first, I have never been more sure that our platform, combined with our global creative team, is the right one to serve creators and rights owners in the rapidly evolving digital music environment.”

“The music industry is growing revenue again and it’s due to the meteoric rise of music streaming on services such as Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon and Pandora,” said Neeraj Khemlani, president of Hearst Entertainment. “Willard has brilliantly positioned Kobalt to be an important company at the center of this booming industry by building an invaluable platform for artists, songwriters and third-party labels and publishers looking to have complete, real-time transparency into how their music is being consumed and thereby collect royalty revenue more efficiently and faster than ever before.”

Kobalt Music Publishing serves more than 25,000 songwriters and 600 publishing companies worldwide, representing on average more than 40 percent of the top 100 songs and albums in both the U.S. and U.K. Clients include Beck, Kelly Clarkson, Dave Grohl, Deadmau5, Max Martin, Paul McCartney, Pitbull, Sam Smith, Noah “40” Shebib, Skrillex and many more. Kobalt’s streaming label, AWAL, partners with more than 20,000 independent artists.

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