Kobalt’s Willard Ahdritz to Receive Music Business Association’s 2020 Innovator Award

February 24, 2020The Music Business Association (Music Biz) today announces that Kobalt Music Group Founder and Chairman Willard Ahdritz will receive the organization’s 2020 Innovator Award during the annual Music Biz Awards Dinner, taking place Wednesday, May 13 at the JW Marriott Nashville as part of the Music Biz 2020 Conference.

Observing how technology rapidly transformed industries in the late 1990s, Ahdritz saw an opportunity in music and wanted to take the music industry into the digital age. He understood that only a sophisticated infrastructure could best serve the needs of the music industry, given the incoming high volume of low-value digital transactions. This led him to start Kobalt and create a centralized organization supported by a global platform. He founded the company on the principles of fairness and transparency for the benefit for creators and rights holders and introduced tools based on the platform to enable this to happen at scale.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Kobalt now offers the world’s most advanced multi-rights royalty collections technology with over $700 million in revenue. As a top 3 US, UK and Swedish publisher, Kobalt serves more than 600 publishers and 40,000 artists & songwriters, including Childish Gambino, Glassnote Music, Dave Grohl, Enrique Iglesias, Lauv, Lorde, Marshmello, Max Martin, Paul McCartney, Elvis Presley, and The Weeknd. The company represents over 40 percent of the top 100 songs and albums in both the US and the UK.

Last month, Ahdritz announced that he was transitioning from the role of CEO to Chairman of Kobalt. He will also remain the chief investment officer for Kobalt Capital, the company’s investment advisor arm.

“It’s safe to say that the music industry as we know it today was uniquely shaped by the pioneering mind of Willard Ahdritz,” commented Music Biz President Portia Sabin. “His foresight regarding the coming changes in the marketplace combined with his ability to reimagine standard practices has been a dynamite recipe for commercial success. For these reasons and more, we’re honored to present Willard with Music Biz’s Innovator Award.”

“I am humbled to receive this award,” Ahdritz shared. “Kobalt just entered its 20th year and we’ve been fortunate to play an important role in the transformation of the music industry. This change has improved the lives of artists and songwriters. That was long overdue. And I know there is much more left for us to do to make this industry better. This award is further validation we’re on the right path. That, and the hugs we get from our clients.” 

Music Biz’s Innovator Award honors those who seek to challenge the standards of music creation and commerce, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with astounding results. The first Music Biz Innovator Award was given during Music Biz 2015 to Jack White — esteemed songwriter, producer, and founding member of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs — for the ULTRA LP release of his Lazaretto solo record, which uniquely married the classic vinyl format with modern day technology. 


About Music Biz 2020

Music Biz 2020 will return to Nashville May 11-14 at the JW Marriott in the heart of downtown Nashville. The music industry’s premier business-focused event, the Music Biz Conference offers a platform for the commerce, content, and creative sectors of the industry to network, get on the cutting edge of the latest trends, and meet with trading partners. 

More program and awards announcements will be made in the coming weeks. For the most up-to-date conference information, go to To register for Music Biz 2020, visit


About The Music Business Association

The Music Business Association (Music Biz) is a not-for-profit membership organization that advances, promotes and invests in the future of the music business by providing a trusted forum where ideas and cooperation flourish. Through events, education and engagement, the Association brings together the full breadth of the industry for unparalleled access to networking, resources and thought leadership. 


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