Life@Kobalt: Connecting the Dots Between Technology & Creative with Laurent Hubert
Though creativity and technology seem to be opposing forces in nature (the left vs. right brain, for a common-denominator example), when they join together, extraordinary things can happen. When technology steps in to streamline the creative process, oftentimes, innovation is the result. And in the music industry, it’s often the intersection where opportunities are created for artists that may never have been possible before.
Those realms — creative and technological innovation — are two major pillars in Kobalt’s story, as well; we hang our hats on utilizing the two seemingly unrelated arenas to create a forward-thinking publishing experience.
Recently, we sat down with President and Chief Revenue Officer of Kobalt Music Group Laurent Hubert to dig deeper into how creative and technology go hand-in-hand to provide songwriters’ with invaluable resources and opportunities that are pushing publishing into the future.
Q: How has publishing evolved in the more-than-a-decade you’ve been in the business?
Publishing has evolved in two main ways. One is the expectations from a client perspective; people expect more transparency and accountability. They expect us to be more results-oriented and goal-focused.
The second is, from an operational perspective, we’re in a situation where the volume of data has increased exponentially in the past five years or so and will continue to do so. We've had also a large increase of income sources — more than we had in previous years — because of an explosion of media platforms and more complexity in terms of the licensing process
Q: How do you see technology and publishing in general continuing to evolve in the future?
Technology, at the end of the day, will change market structure. It has a little bit, but it will change furthermore in the future. We will likely see greater efficiencies in the marketplace, greater transparency, and more optionality as far as how one wants to handle their publishing rights.
All of that will be largely driven by technology. People will think about who they're going to partner with not purely on the back of understanding the creative or marketing services, but also understanding what their choices are to streamline their collection in the context of technology.
Q: Kobalt is obviously an extremely tech-focused publisher. How has technology evolved in and changed the publishing industry?
Technology has become an important part of our business, and it's especially true at Kobalt. It's not necessarily true at our competitors. I think they still view technology as a catch-up item, not as a strategic item. That's the biggest difference we see.
We've been a disruptor for most of the industry for the past 15 years or so. It's up to us to continue to innovate because, clearly, we want to keep that gap [between ourselves and our competitors] as wide as possible for as long as possible.
Q: Creative and technology can sometimes appear to be opposing forces. How can you see the two working together efficiently?
That's a good question. I think they must help each other. The key between creative and technology is fluid communication between the two parts, because we are pulling in exactly the same direction.
It's absolutely critical that they are aligned. Technology can make the creative process more streamlined, which means that the creative team can focus on doing things that will have greater impact.
At the same time, creative can lead to technological innovations, because [the creative team is] on the front line. They understand what clients want, and they can articulate that to the technology and product development teams to make sure we rise to the challenge to provide those services. The perfect outcome is that we have more product, and we have greater services and become eventually more competitive.
Q: Do you think technology and creative will continue to play an increased role in each other's worlds?
In a perfect world, I think they will. That's why I think it’s critical that they work in sync at Kobalt and we align objectives as much as possible. You can never remove the creative component to what we do completely, and you can never remove the technology component. So, it's a combination of these two that I think will make a difference for business and for the industry, frankly.
Q: How is Kobalt itself different from other publishers in terms of technology and creative?
Regarding technology, we make a difference when it comes to collecting more money and paying clients faster at a lower cost. We can essentially get them more money, faster, and at a cheaper cost.
On the other side, Kobalt is not purely an administrative or technological platform. We have dedicated creative talent, and we can make a difference in [our clients'] careers. The connections we have are typically what leads to greater outcomes and greater success. It's never obvious as we do it, rather, it's after the fact that we realize that it’s because we connected all the different lines together.
A large part of our job as a creative team is to be a connector of those dots — including those between creative and technology. And when you connect those dots, you have the potential for great success.