AwesomenessTV, which has built its business on the output of young YouTube video creators, is launching a new initiative to discover and sign deals with the next generation of music stars.
The company has reached a pact with Kobalt Music Group, a music-services company whose investors include Google, to identify music talent and connect them with Kobalt’s publishing, label services and neighboring rights. Under the terms of Kobalt’s deals with artists, musicians retain full control, ownership and monetization of their audio and video content.
With the Kobalt deal, AwesomenessTV will launch a new ad-supported vertical brand, Awesomeness Music, aimed at enabling artists to grow their fanbases. The two companies have a revenue-sharing agreement as part of the deal.
“We’ve been involved in developing digital stars and talent from the day we’ve started,” AwesomenessTV founder and CEO Brian Robbins said in an interview. “When you follow that line, the same thing is happening in music. We want to offer the ability for kids anywhere in the world who are super-talented to create content, upload that content, and monetize it.”
Los 5 (pictured above), an L.A.-based band in the AwesomenessTV network whose members hail from Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, is the first act to sign on under the new partnership. In addition, AwesomenessTV and Kobalt have lined up an agreement with Omnicom Media Group for a first look for at music talent at the ad agency’s annual Final Front idea auction in L.A. hosted this year at Fox Studios.
“We were founded to take the music industry into the digital age,” said Kobalt CEO Willard Ahdritz, who founded the London-based company in 2000. The AwesomenessTV partnership, the first of its kind for Kobalt, “is an example of how we are taking on the restrictive legacy of the traditional music business and replacing it with transparent, smart, artist-friendly solutions that help creators stay in control of their careers in today’s digital world,” he added.
Kobalt’s roster of clients includes Beck, Big and Rich, Bon Iver, Dave Grohl, Joe Satriani, Kate Pierson, Kelly Clarkson, Kid Rock, Lionel Richie, Moby, Neil Finn, Paul McCartney, Pitbull, Sam Smith, Skrillex, Trent Reznor and Zedd. The company says it serves more than 8,000 songwriters and over 500 publishing companies worldwide.
Unlike traditional record deals, the AwesomenessTV-Kobalt tie-up is geared toward music discovery and consumption on video platforms like YouTube, Robbins said. “It’s not just music content, but all the other content music artists do today,” he said.
Added Robbins, “We have a relationship with our audience… We can introduce them to artists, and Kobalt can take the cream of the crop and monetize them.”
AwesomenessTV previously had a relationship with Universal Music Group to sign digital talent to record deals, but Robbins said the UMG pact is no longer in effect.
AwesomenessTV is majority owned by Comcast (which acquired DreamWorks Animation) with minority stakes held by Hearst and Verizon. The company’s lines of business include ATV Network multichannel network; talent-management division Big Frame; DreamWorksTV; millennial-mom focused network Awestruck; and Awesomeness Films.