Kobalt Music Group Posts 23.6% Growth in Gross Profit for 2018

The vibrant indie music scene continues to drive Kobalt’s revenue.

For its fiscal year ended June 30th, 2018, Kobalt has posted some pretty impressive numbers.

The independent rights management and publishing company’s revenue jumped 25.3% to $402.1 million year-over-year.  Gross collections also grew 30% to $494 million.  In addition, gross profit jumped 23.6% to $52.5 million while its global employee count grew to 515, up from 376.

Kobalt expects gross collections to reach $600 million this year.

The company also posted after-tax losses of $42.7 million, up 29% from 2017.  Kobalt dismissed the losses as “a conscious decision to prioritize growth through making strategic investments over short-term profitability.”

AWAL, the company’s recorded music division, rose 50% over the previous year.  Artists, including the Wombats, Lauv and Little Simz, as well as its partnership with Glassnote, drove the division’s revenue jump.

AWAL also reported Lauv had 2.2 billion global streams.  R3HAB, a Dutch DJ, and Rex Orange County, a British singer/songwriter, both had 700 million streams.  Tom Misch, a musician/producer, had 400 million.  Kobalt’s recorded music division also signed new clients, including Danger Mouse’s 30th Century Records.

Kobalt also reported its Neighbouring Riots royalty collection division expanded to new territories, including first-ever payments from South Africa.  This resulted in a 24% revenue growth year-over-year.  Revenue for Kobalt’s AMRA digital music royalty-collection service jumped 30% year-over-year.

The company’s publishing roster also grew to include works from artists including Childish Gambino, Enrique Iglesias, Marshmello, and Ozuna.  Other publishing clients include Beck, Courtney Barnett, Zayn, Lorde, and The Weeknd.  Kobalt also has legacy catalogs, such as Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters, Bob Marley, George Thorogood, and Lindsey Buckingham.

Stating his company is currently “outpacing the industry” in terms of growth,” Willard Ahdritz, Kobalt’s Founder and CEO, explained,

We’ve been laser-focused on building out the global team to support the rapidly growing music industry and setting up creators for success.

We’ve established ourselves as the technology leader in the industry, and we’re deeply investing in building innovative new products and services across the music ecosystem to super-serve our roster, across publishing, recordings, collections, neighboring rights, and sync.


Featured image by Kobalt.

#DXCLUSIVE: Eto & Superior Debut "Fortune" Video

Eto, who is known for his collaborations with DJ Muggs, will be releasing a new album titled Long Story Short with producer Superior. Before the LP drops on April 12, the duo looks to build anticipation by premiering the video for its lead single “Fortune.”

“We filmed the video for ‘Fortune’ in the beginning of January,” Eto tells HipHopDX. “The winters up here in Rochester are some of the worst around. My boy came up from Brooklyn to film and by the time he got here, there was several feet of snow on the ground. He had to try and push through. What you see in the video is us in our element.”

Superior adds, “I wanted to produce an emotional track where the lyrics would get more attention. When Eto recorded and sent it back to me, I immediately knew that the track was special and also needed a video.”

Watch Eto and Superior’s “Fortune” video above. Cop the single and pre-order their upcoming album here.

3X Red Bull Music 3Style Champion DJ J Espinosa Reveals How He Keeps Winning

Recently, Red Bull proved itself to be on the cutting edge of modern athletics and pop culture when they announced that they would be sponsoring The Red Bull BC One breakdancing contest. The competition, according to the Los Angeles Times, comes just under a month after Paris 2024 officials proposed the addition of breakdancing as an Olympic sport. What was once a dance movement that originated on the streets of New York in the 1970s has, according to Olympic officials, “become so popular in France that the country is now regarded as second only to the USA in terms of practitioners (approximately one million) and the organization of competitions.”

But the Red Bull BC One is not the first time that the energy drink behemoth has brought Hip Hop culture to the mainstream.

A few weeks ago, The Red Bull Music 3Style took place, which boasted itself as the “world’s largest DJ competition,” and for good reason. Featuring competitors from all over the world, this year’s 3Style was hosted in the luxurious city of Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, in the equally-impressive W Hotel Taipei, where the music began pumping as the sun began to set on the Shilin Market, and the throbbing bass carried all the way through the SongShan District until sunrise the next morning.

More than 1200 aspiring crate-masters were gunning for the title of the greatest DJ in the world, and they had such interesting luminaries as DJ Jazzy Jeff, Skratch Bastid, DJ Craze, Nina Las Vegas, and DJ Nu-Mark serving as the judges of their skills.

And when it was all over, only one could emerge victoriously: DJ J Espinosa, a native of San Francisco who is also the hometown DJ for the Oakland Raiders and a veteran 3Style winner. Espinosa, who took home the title in 2015 and 2018, said that this year’s win feels much different from his previous victories.

“I learned a lot from my mistakes in 2015, so this year I went back to the drawing board and worked hard to improve my set. It was an amazing experience performing in Taipei and being able to play music that represented my hometown: the Bay Area,” he tells HipHopDX.

For Espinosa, being from “The Bay” wasn’t just about spinning records and mixing the sound. Hip Hop, he said, was just as important to incorporate in his distinctive, award-winning sound.

“The DJs I grew up listening to for sure have influenced the way I DJ, as well as our Bay Area Hip Hop scene,” he said. “I think I’ve taken bits of every style I’m a fan of. Bay Area radio DJs were always so clean. Flawless mixing on the radio. L.A. DJs were always known to be technically really dope, so I wanted some of that too. I used to watch DJ Qbert videos also, even though he was light years ahead of me with scratching, I would dream about having dope cuts like him.”

The good news, of course, is that Espinosa brought forth the “dope cuts” in quantity — enough to impress the not-easily-impressed judges! 3Style, and Red Bull, aimed to push DJ culture forward and champion the fun of throwing the best parties — and they delivered on that promise.

This is the third time that Espinosa took home the title from the energy drink company, but Espinosa said that he became a DJ by accident. With an original intent to become a BMX biker — though sidelined because of “ingrown toenails” — Espinosa doesn’t look at the Red Bull win as the be-all and end-all.

Rather, he looks at it as a chance to pursue his real passions — one that involves him being on his toes, which have healed from his teenage years.

“I actually just came on the BMX bike of my dreams (1999 GT Speed Series),” he said, “so next is getting this bike fixed up, and now that my toes are all good I’m going to go ride my bike!”

Follow DJ J Espinosa on Instagram at @DJJEspinosa.

Man Admits To Lying About Cardi B Robbery

After Cardi B’s antecedent video of her speaking on past unethical behaviors resurfaced the web – in which she later posted a remorseful response  Instagram – a man came forward accusing Cardi of stealing his money, Louis Vuitton belt, and iPad.

Too bad it was a clout-chasing lie.

A Facebook post went viral Wednesday (March 27) of one man’s alleged recollection of being robbed by the Grammy-Award-Winning rapper, Cardi B, five years ago. The fabricated post on The Shade Borough’s Facebook page was posted by a man name Ak Ore Akim, who was later found out to not be the original author of the hoax, but allegedly a man named Kevin Smith.

In the reposted antic, Akim writes, “Last thing I remembered was she was twerking on me, music blasting and that was it. The next morning, I saw a used condom on the floor and then I noticed all the cash I had, which was about $850, my Louis Vuitton belt and my iPod touch was missing.”

“I tried calling her several times but I soon realized she gave me a Google voice number,” he continues. “I know she did it but I couldn’t prove it so I never went to file charges mainly because I did not want my fiancee at the time to know what had happened so I took my ‘L.’”Man Admits To Lying About Cardi B Robbery



The made-up fantasy came to a rightful end with Akim replying to a woman asking about the authenticity of his story, “Nah it was a joke,” Akim wrote in regards to being allegedley robbed by the “Money” rapstress. “I aint no sucka… ”

Once the resurfacing of the misleading story made its way back to the original author, Kevin Smith, he and his affiliates too added to the synopsis that the story was indeed fake. “Jesus Christ. My little brother Kevin did not get drugged by Cardi B while he was in NY 5yrs ago.”

He continued, “That’s a fake article. Check the fucking website. Ya’ll are gullible as fuck.”

In the 2016 Instagram Live video, Cardi explained why she deserved her spot at that time in her music career, followed by a rhapsody of how she survived as a stripper.

“Niggas must’ve forgot, my nigga, the shit that I did to muthafuckin’ survive,” she said. “I had to go strip. I had to go, ‘Oh yeah, you wanna fuck me? Yeah yeah yeah, let’s go back to this hotel.’ And I drugged niggas up and I robbed them. That’s what I used to do. Nothing was muthafuckin’ handed to me, my nigga. Nothing!”

On Tuesday (March 26), Cardi B took to Instagram once again to rebuttal her original views on her survival days as a stripper. “I never glorified the things I brought up in that live. I never even put those things in my music because I’m not proud of it and feel a responsibility not to glorify it,” she goes on. “The men I spoke about in my live were men that I dated that I was [involved] with, men that were conscious willing and aware. I have a past that I can’t change we all do.”

In unsurprising news, Offset also stood by his wife amidst the controversy, writing on Instagram, “”RIDE OR DIE FOREVER LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHATS GOING ON I LOVE YOU. BEST MOTHER AND HUSTLER I KNOW.”

Dubset Media Quietly Inks a One-Year Pact With 7Digital

7digital has signed with Dubset Media for a one-year partnership.

As part of the deal, 7digital will provide access to its platform to assist Dubset Media to enhance its proprietary ‘Mixscan’ recognition technology.

The terms of the deal are confidential, though 7digital says the agreement will contribute to its monthly recurring revenue in 2019.  7digital will also receive a significant setup fee, according to the company.

7digital CEO Simon Cole pointed to positive benefits for DJ sets and remixed content.

“Dubset is growing a new marketplace for DJ sets and remixes, which represents a valuable revenue stream for rightsholders. We’re delighted to be using our platform to partner with Dubset and deliver value both to the music industry and to individual creators.”

7digital is one of several B2B digital music solutions battling in the space.  The company provides global music rights services for a variety of customers, including consumer brands, mobile carriers, broadcasters, automotive systems, and record labels.  That includes both Onkyo and TikTok.

As reported earlier on Digital Music News, Simon Cole will be of the company on April 1st.  John Aalbers, the former boss of Arts Alliance Media, will be replacing him.

Dubset is a rights tech company focused on resolving tricky royalty issues tied to samples, DJ mixes, and remixed content.  That’s huge barrier for platforms like Spotify, whose collections lack competitiveness and breadth against more open UGC platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud.

Earlier this month, Dubset inked a deal with Warner Music Group, its second major label deal.



Birdman & Juvenile Reunite For "Just Another Gangsta" Project

Birdman has teamed up with Juvenile, Cash Money Records’ first breakout star, to release a nostalgia-fueled album titled Just Another Gangsta.

The LP is Juvenile’s first release since rejoining Cash Money, which he helped turn into an industry powerhouse in the late 90s. Juvie and Birdman’s reunion project features 12 tracks and includes a guest appearance by up-and-comer NLE Choppa.

Check out Birdman and Juvenile’s Just Another Gangsta stream, cover art and tracklist below.

1. Just Another Gangsta
2. Broke
3. Back Then
4. Filthy Money
5. Breeze
6. From Tha Block
7. Newly Exposed
8. Tonight
9. From the Bottom
10. One Two
11. Today
12. Dreams f. NLE Choppa

DJ Muggs Connects With Mach-Hommy For "Tuez-Les Tous" Album

DJ Muggs has been busy over the past year, dropping multiple collaborative projects with artists such as Roc Marciano. After releasing Hells Roof with Eto earlier this month, the Cypress Hill producer has quickly followed it up with Tuez-Les Tous alongside Mach-Hommy.

The elusive Mach-Hommy gets an opportunity to rhyme over 12 tracks crafted by Muggs. Guests on the LP include Meyhem Lauren, Your Old Droog and Tha God Fahim, among others.

Check out Muggs and Mach-Hommy’s Tuez-Les Tous stream, cover art and tracklist below.

DJ Muggs Connects With Mach-Hommy For "Tuez-Les Tous" Album

1. 2 Second Style f. Kungg Fuu
2. Stain Glass
3. 900K
4. Piotr
5. Lajan Jwif
6. Wet Bally f. Meyhem Lauren
7. Kouign-Amman f. Tha God Fahim
8. Spent Casings f. Big Cheeko
9. NTM f. Tha God Fahim
10. Bón Nwit
11. The Fowler’s Snare f. Tha God Fahim
12. Mami Wata f. Your Old Droog & Tha God Fahim

New Music: Ciara ‘Thinkin Bout You’

Fifteen years since her debut, Ciara is set to release her seventh studio album Beauty Marks in May.

After serving up a series of dance-ready tracks, the R&B songstress delivers her latest, “Thinkin Bout You,” an irresistible ’80s-inspired bop that you won’t be able to get out of your head. Co-written by Ester Dean, the flirtatious jam finds CiCi with love on the brain.

“I’ve been thinkin’ bout you / I’m wondering if your love’s a game,” she sings. “Just kissing girls and taking names / Is it love or entertainment?”

Beauty Marks, the follow-up to 2015’s Jackie, drops May 10 featuring collaborations with Macklemore and Kelly Rowland, along with the previously-released tracks “Greatest Love,” “Dose,” the Tekno Miles-assisted “Freak Me,” and “Level Up.”

Listen to the song and look out for the video on Friday.

YAY-UH-YAY! Ice Cube & BIG3 Win $21M In Defamation Lawsuit

Ice Cube and his BIG3 basketball league have scored a major victory in their defamation lawsuit against the Champions League. According to The Blast, the OG gangsta rapper and BIG3 were awarded $21 million dollars in court earlier this week.

BIG3’s attorney Greg Kirakosian will now file the paperwork necessary for the court to make the judgement official. The Champions League will have one more chance to fight the default judgment next month.

In 2017, BIG3 sued the Champions League after the CBL claimed they were defrauded by BIG3 because they refused to allow players to play for both leagues.

The suit named CBL CEO Carl George and former NBA superstar Mark Aguirre as defendants. The CBL also attempted to sue BIG3 for $250 million, but that case was ultimately dismissed.


Choosey Teams With Exile For "Black Beans" LP

Veteran producer Exile, who’s created critically acclaimed albums with MCs such as Blu and Fashawn, has joined forces with Choosey for a collaborative project titled Black Beans.

“Oldies are a big part of Chicano culture on the West Coast from the ‘50s to now,” Exile says. “Choosey is born out of that. So with this album, we wanted to unify that sound with Hip Hop.”

The new LP features guest appearances by Blu, Fashawn, Aloe Blacc and The Last Artful, Dodgr, among others.

Check out Choosey and Exile’s Black Beans stream, cover art and tracklist below.

Choosey Teams With Exile For "Black Beans" LP

1. Intro
2. I Did
3. Black Beans f. Devaughn
4. Low Low f. Aloe Blacc
5. Show You
6. You Got It f. Jimetta Rose
7. Teen Angel f. Ishe
8. Satisfied f. Fashawn
9. Sangria f. The Last Artful, Dodgr
10. Brown & Beautiful f. Blu & Ana Tijoux
11. Ain’t Scared
12. No Routine
13. Familia f. Ishe

Saweetie Releases "ICY" EP

Saweetie burst onto the Hip Hop scene in 2017 with her single “ICY GRL.” Now, she’s back with an EP titled ICY.

The Warner Bros. Records artist’s latest project is the follow-up to her debut High Maintenance. The new EP is comprised of seven tracks, two of which are collaborations with Quavo.

View Saweetie’s ICY stream, cover art and tracklist below.

Saweetie Releases "ICY" EP

1. Trick
2. Tip Toes f. Quavo
3. My Type
4. Emotional f. Quavo
5. Dipped in Ice
6. Hot Boy
7. 1 of 1

MED Enlists Guilty Simpson For "Child Of The Jungle" LP

MED has connected with Guilty Simpson for a collaborative album titled Child Of The Jungle. The project is being billed as “MED featuring Guilty Simpson.”

The duo’s 16-track LP boasts production by Madlib, Apollo Brown, Nottz, Black Milk, 14KT, Karriem Riggins and more. Guests include Blu, Kokane and Georgia Anne Muldrow, among others.

Check out MED and Simpson’s Child Of The Jungle stream, cover art and tracklist below.

MED Enlists Guilty Simpson For "Child Of The Jungle" LP

1. Mad
2. Visions f. Georgia Anne Muldrow
3. Dope
4. The Hundreds f. Kokane
5. Dedicated f. DJ Romes
6. Pie f. Joyce Wrice
7. Smoke Break
8. Lock N Load
9. Loyalty f. Black Shakespeare & Big Roc
10. Life’s Good f. Blu & J. Mitchell
11. Bliss
12. Time f. Jimetta Rose
13. Liquor Break
14. Face Down
15. Ice Service
16. Unpredictable

Quelle Chris Delivers "Guns" Album

Quelle Chris is back to his solo work after collaborating with his wife Jean Grae on 2018’s Everything’s Fine album. The Mello Music Group artist has released a new LP titled Guns, which is his first solo project since 2017’s Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often.

Guns is an arsenal of both sounds, styles and subjects,” Chris says. “[It takes a look at] the words we say, what we fear, how we love, how we live, what we ingest, what we believe in, who we idolize, shit like that.”

Check out Chris’ Guns stream, cover art and tracklist below.

Quelle Chris Delivers "Guns" Album

1. Spray and Pray
2. Guns
3. Color of the Day
4. Mind Ya Bidness
5. It’s The Law (Farewell Goodbye Addio, Uncle Tom) f. Ugly Boy Modeling
6. Wild Minks f. Mach-Hommy
7. Box of Wheaties f. Denmark Vessey
8. PSA Drugfest 2003 (Sleeveless Minks)
9. Sunday Mass f. Bilal Salaam
10. Straight Shot f. Cavalier, Bilal Salaam, Eldar Djangirov & James Acaster
11. Obamacare
12. You, Me & Nobody Else f. Jonathan Hoard & Jean Grae
13. WYRM

Boosie Badazz Shares "Badazz 3.5" Album

Boosie Badazz has released a new solo album titled Badazz 3.5. The project is the follow-up to his Christmas-themed project Savage Holidays, which dropped last December.

The Baton Rouge-bred rapper’s latest work is comprised of 15 tracks, including the single “Bonnie and Clyde.” Longtime collaborator Webbie makes the lone guest appearance on the album.

View Boosie’s Badazz 3.5 stream, cover art and tracklist below.

Boosie Badazz Shares "Badazz 3.5" Album

1. Ball
2. Bonnie and Clyde
3. Fuck the Night Away
4. Good Ol Days f. Webbie
5. Hoe
6. I Don’t Give a Fuck
7. Insecure and Beautiful
8. Lucifer
9. Marijuana
10. Off the Flap
11. Real Gangsta
12. Southern Smoke
13. This World Fucked Up
14. Thug Life
15. We Ain’t Got Much

Phonte Drops Surprise EP "Pacific Time"

Phonte isn’t making fans wait multiple years for another solo project.

One year after releasing his sophomore album No News Is Goods News, The Foreign Exchange frontman has returned with an EP titled Pacific Time. The new project is more of an R&B/soul release, but Phonte does rap a bit on it.

Guests on the four-track EP include Kaytranada, BOSCO and Devin Morrison. Production is handled by Kay, Morrison, Like, Swarvy, Julia Lewis, TK Kayembe and Phonte himself.

Check out Phonte’s Pacific Time stream, cover art and tracklist below.

Phonte Drops Surprise EP "Pacific Time"

1. Can We
2. Beverly Hills f. Devin Morrison
3. Ego
4. Heard This One Before f. BOSCO & Kaytranada