Independent distributors AWAL have just been sold to major label Sony Music

Two of Kobalts biggest assets have just been sold to major label Sony, including their independent distribution label AWAL.

Kobalt Music Group have just agreed to sell two of their biggest companies over to Sony Music Entertainment. In a deal costing $430 million, the major record label is buying Kobalt’s rights collection agency Kobalt Neighbouring Rights and AWAL, their independent music distribution company.

It’s a huge sale for Kobalt as two of their biggest assets outside of Kobalt Music Publishing which is not part of the deal. Their sale of independent distribution company AWAL sees artists like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Little Simz, Lauv, Finneas, AG Club, and many more independent artists come under Sony’s bracket.

Interestingly Sony own another independent music distribution company, The Orchard. Reports claim that – at least for now – AWAL will still operate separately and will continue to work with artists on its own term, however The Orchard will power their operation. Sony said: “AWAL artists will be able to capitalize on SME’s and The Orchard’s global distribution footprints.”

The future for AWAL’s artists and services isn’t clear yet, though Sony seem to want to take a hands-off approach with their independent distribution even though they are now owned by one of the big three record labels. Sony Music Chairman, Rob Stringer said: “Our investment in AWAL’s continued growth gives us another level of service to offer the independent music community. With their flexible solutions to building artists careers, together we will offer creators more exciting choices to connect with their audience worldwide.”

AWAL’s current CEO Lonny Olinick will retain his position in charge of the company. Olinick said: “The AWAL team has futuristically enabled artists to deliver their creative vision since its inception. Now, as part of the global Sony ecosystem, we can dramatically expand on this vision for them. We are also excited to build on our innovative neighbouring rights as well as DIY platforms with extended support from The Orchard.”

Kobalt have been scoping the market for sales since last year, according to reports. With two of their biggest assets now gone to a major label, it will be interesting to see whether the company, built on empowering artists, will sell their Publishing arm next.

Of course, the sale of an independent artist service to a major record label is shocking to many in the industry. Sony have increased their efforts to get involved with the independent side of music. No doubt they recognise the huge wave of success coming from independent artists and labels since digital services equalised the playing field.

At RouteNote, we’re sad to see another distributor go under the blanket of a major label. We’re proud to work independently of the major labels who, in our opinion, represent an outdated industry that has too often disfavoured the artists themselves. We’re proud to work for independent artists and labels and will continue to work for them and only them.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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