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A Year of Transparency: Celebrating the Kobalt App’s 1st B-Day

Ever feel like you’re just too ambitious and want to take yourself down a notch? How many times have you lamented that your fingers need a workout beyond swiping and tapping? Do you get animals confused with each other sometimes?

There’s an app for all of that. Namely “Demotivational Pics” (think: the exact opposite of “Hang in There Cat”-ish memes); “Finger Treadmill,” which is exactly what it sounds like; and, finally, try “Llama or Duck Quiz” to either learn the difference between the two or give yourself an ego boost when you achieve a perfect score.

Consider that these downloadable gadgets are just a few of over 2.2 million apps available via Apple’s App Store and Google Play. From photo editing with thousands of filters, to monitoring both traffic conditions and police activity on the road, and even apps for our furry friends (like “Cat Games”), the long tail of byte-sized digital toys seemingly never ends.

While there are some apps that seem to simply fill up space on our phones, there are others that we just can’t imagine everyday life without. For many music creators the latter can be said about the Kobalt App. There’s always cause for celebration when such a revolutionary device  reaches a major milestone.

We’re pleased to announce that our Kobalt App is officially one year old!

That’s one year of on-demand finances, one year of real-time updates, and one year of tracked YouTube monetization and synch activity. It marks a milestone when transparency was brought into aspects of the music industry which were once shrouded to many artists and songwriters. But rather than us ruminating on all the app has accomplished over the year, we decided to take things to those opinions who really matter — our clients.

In honor of the Kobalt App’s very first birthday, we looked to our clients to pick their brains on how this pocketed partner has affected their careers over the course of the year.

“I preach the gospel of [the Kobalt App]... and everyone seems surprised that it even exists,” says Brandon Saller, drummer and vocalist for metalcore band Atreyu and frontman of Hell or Highwater. “I personally have never had such access to real-time information and had such transparency with my information. A lot of other companies make it a lot more difficult to just find out what is coming to you.”

“Nothing else, business-wise, even comes close to it.”

Saller, who says he uses the app “multiple times daily” drives home one of the core principles that the app shares with Kobalt on a grand scheme: unprecedented transparency. Unsurprisingly, a driving factor of the app is making sure artists have access to the stats and financial statements they need in language that’s straightforward and easy to understand at a passing glance. The app also breaks down how exactly a song is earning money by medium (digital radio, public performance, or private copying, for example).

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“It shows you everything, every time a thing comes through, every time a peanut comes in, every time any information comes through, you can just check it,” says Saller. “Not only that, but it'll alert you and tell you something new has happened, so it's pretty insane to have that all available.”

Henry Russell Walter (pka Cirkut) also admits to a frequent habit of checking the Kobalt App. Walter, who has writing and producing credits on super-smash hits like Katy Perry’s “Roar,” Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” and nine songs on The Weeknd’s Starboy LP, says he’ll sometimes receive a call from a manager or an artist with news about a sync placement, and, “I'm like, ‘Yeah, I know, I saw it on the Kobalt App.’”

Tracking the progress of sync placements is crucial to artists, and via the app’s activity feed, clients enjoy seeing where their songs are in the process and get notified as their material moves along from pitch to placement - all the way to watching the payments roll in.

“Especially with the sync stuff… I'll check the app and something will pop up before I get the email for approval,” says Brandon Saller.

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The opportunity to see what songs are performing well regionally is also one of Saller’s favorite things about the app. “All of the real-time [data that] pops up like, ‘Your song was pitched in the UK’ or like, ‘This song was pitched in whatever,’ or like, ‘Your music has been registered in the Baltics,’ ‘Your music has been registered in Norway.’ Showing me that kind of stuff, seeing that beep of information, has definitely been something that's been crazy to even think about as a thing that exists.”

“I've been really interested in… getting real-time information on the income from different songs,” he says. “The majority of my income is from sync, [and the app shows], ‘This song has brought in this much money and this much money.’ And, ‘This song has been doing better in these regions.’ And that's been really cool, too, because that's something that I've never really had access to before.”

That info is also helpful when artists get ready to release new material, says Saller, pointing out another auxiliary perk he likes about the app. “When those numbers start coming in… like how a song's performing, that's something that will be interesting for me to be able to watch. I feel like there's so much you can plan about [an] album release from the information that you're getting from the app, which another good tool.”

Clear-cut, simplified, and accurate financial reporting is also something artists and songwriters alike have come to love. No more wading through tomes of percentages that might as well be written in an alien language.

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“Any other company besides Kobalt, they send you a statement,” says Walter, “[that’s] literally thousands of pages, and it's all just black-and-white-text font. It's a mind-numbing thing to look through it, and actually look at a percentile of a cent for each thing here and there. It's not intuitive at all.

“And maybe it's transparent, but they don't [show it] to you in a digestible way. I think the Kobalt App is very transparent in the sense that it's just putting it all out there. It's saying, ‘This is exactly where everything we're collecting is coming from.’ I think that's important.”

“Before the app, I would read royalty statements and skim through them a little bit,” Brandon Saller says, “but I find that the app... just makes it so easy to just know exactly how much my songs are making. Which I think is important.”

“You used to get statements that were in the mail, paper statements, that you couldn't even make heads or tails out of half of... and you would just give up,” says multi-platinum-selling songwriter Lindy Robbins, who’s worked with everyone from One Direction and Demi Lovato to Britney Spears and Jason Derulo. She calls the Kobalt App “addictive.”

“I try not to check it too compulsively,” she says. “It's just like seeing the fruits of your labor. Who gets to do that? It's very unique.”

“To me, this is the really positive aspect of technology... allowing us access to what we're earning. And it's inspiring, it's an incentive. I want more. I got to work harder.”

Over the next 365 days, the Kobalt App will continue tweaking its features and discovering new ways to make sure users are always at the forefront of exactly what’s happening with their songs, adding more reasons to sneak a peek at its personalized feed under the dinner table.

For Lindy Robbins, this first birthday celebration wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the Kobalt App’s pun-intended “‘app’-reciation of the songwriter in a world that... increasingly diminishes their role.”

“It kind of makes up for some of the bad stuff that's happening to songwriters,” she says.

Brandon Saller says that, for him, information is key, and his ability to get accurate answers via the Kobalt App is a game changer. “A lot of the times, you're misinformed, you're just kind of in the dark about a lot of things [in the music business] because there's so many cooks in the kitchen. So… that's kind of a humongous thing for me. It changes everything.

“It's the first time in my 15-plus years of doing this that that has even existed to me. It just feels good, knowing exactly what's happened. You have a very clear, simple picture of exactly what's happening in your career, your business. That's kind of everything to me.”

And, if he could share some first birthday wishes with the Kobalt App, what would they be?

“Congratulations on being revolutionary. You make my life incredibly less stressful. Happy birthday, app!”

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