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Willard Ahdritz Speaks at Collision: Kobalt’s Plan to Regrow the Music Industry

This year’s Collision Conference featured a number of insightful speakers from the music industry, including our very own Founder and CEO, Willard Ahdritz.  Willard sat with The Economist’s Gady Epstein to discuss why the music industry has significantly declined in market size, and how technology has led a massive positive evolution and revival for artists, music companies, and DSPs, alike.

Read on for some of the key takeaways from the discussion, and check out the livestream for Willard’s full conversation, starting at the 01:09:00 mark.

On why the music industry has suffered

“​The music industry was not built for the digital age.”

“First, the pipes are broken, globally. Today, one song has four billion micro transactions. Second, there’s a principal agency problem, you don’t have transparency and your interests aren’t aligned. The global digital industry really needs transparency. The third thing is a short term mentality. People think about short term results, a lack of vision for what tech and digital can provide people.”

On what Kobalt is doing to help the industry recover

“From day 1, I said that we need to be both a music company, and a technology company.””

"I had a clear vision, that I wanted to take the music industry into the digital age. You need big data. You need a centralized platform to run those billions of transaction for global data monetization. We are a service provider. We don’t own rights, we are here to maximize the cash flow for our clients and our creators…"

“If we don’t triple the industry in 5 years, going up to a 50 billion dollar industry, I will be disappointed.”

“A lot of people don’t realize how bad [the industry] was from the beginning. Historically, it took two to three years to get paid, and you had a print-out of paper. Today, Kobalt delivers a 40% uplift, and in global real-time, on your phone. The efficiency, combined with transaction costs, will drive what we have said from the beginning… that transparency really drives liquidity, which in turn drives volume, growing the whole industry. The transformation is really happening right now.”

On how independent artists can build a sustainable career in the digital age

“Today, we have around 5,000 bands that have a commercial living from music. We believe that when you efficiently monetize a billion people, with low transactional costs, combined with efficient social media networking, that we are going to have 100,000 bands who earn a great commercial living… the more great music is created, the more people consume.”

“Historically, it’s been difficult to break. Everyone who has toured in a band says that you need to tour for at least two years to get 10,000 fans. Today, you can actually reach that in three to six months… if you can monetize without 90 or 100% transactional costs disappearing, you can actually get those systems to work. That’s what we’re working on. The global end to end ecosystem for songwriters and artists, pushing that through… this is a true win-win-win, for the DSPs, rights owners of catalogs, and most of all, the creators.”

Hear more of the conversation that took place on the Musicnotes stage at the Collision Conference by tuning into Willard and Gady’s conversation at the 01:09:00 mark.

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