The Brag Media
News February 2, 2021

Sony Music’s acquisition of AWAL, neighbouring rights divisions means ‘more choices’ for creators

Senior Journalist, B2B
Sony Music’s acquisition of AWAL, neighbouring rights divisions means ‘more choices’ for creators

It’s business as usual for Nick Cave, Kevin Parker, Sia, Courtney Barnett and the phalanx of Australian acts and labels who rely on the services of AWAL and Kobalt Neighbouring Rights (KNR), which are set to change hands in a blockbuster deal.

AWAL and KNR, two of the independent music community’s prized assets, enter the major music fold as Sony Music Entertainment snaps up Kobalt’s recorded music operations in an arrangement worth an estimated US$430 million.

According to a statement issued out of New York City, AWAL and Neighbouring Rights will become a new division within the SME’s network of independent artist and label services offerings, powered by The Orchard.

AWAL is the recorded music services firm that was established in 1997 and acquired by Kobalt Music Group in 2011, and has worked with independent artists including Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Kooks, Felix Riebl, Alex the Astronaut, Lauv, Set Mo, Bruno Major, and Laura Marling.

Trade body AIR is a longstanding supporter and “friend” of AWAL, which extends to a recommendation of its service for “innovative artists at all stages of their careers”.

Lonny Olinick will remain AWAL’s CEO, and the company will continue to provide global services to independent-minded artists, offer artist-friendly agreements and more.

KNR, meanwhile, is recognised as the undisputed market leader in the neighbouring rights business, representing over 2,000 performers including Kevin Parker, Sia, Dean Lewis and Flume.


Ann Tausis has led Kobalt Neighbouring Rights (KNR) since 2013 as Managing Director, and then CEO, and its operations in APAC have been overseen by Managing Director Simon Moor since 2012.

By 2019, KNR had distributed more than US$250 million to its performers and recording rightsholders, from more than 70 territories.

Simon Moor

The upshot of all this, explains Rob Stringer, Chairman, Sony Music Group, is that AWAL artists will be able to plug into The Orchard’s global distribution web, while SME artists and The Orchard’s distributed labels can partner-up and plug into KNR for its infrastructure and collection network.

“Our investment in AWAL’s continued growth gives us another level of service to offer the independent music community,” comments Stringer.

“With their flexible solutions to building artist careers, together we will offer creators more exciting choices to connect with their audience worldwide.”

The deal with Kobalt Music Group is subject to regulatory and closing conditions.

Rob Stringer

Rob Stringer

Following the transaction, Kobalt Music Group, which for several months was rumoured to be testing the waters for an asset sale, will retain its music publishing and AMRA (global royalty collection) divisions.

“The Orchard’s comprehensive offerings, global footprint and technology will contribute to AWAL’s continued success,” says Orchard CEO Brad Navin on the new arrangement.

“We will give more artists a transparent, global solution and access to multiple touch points to release their music however they choose.”

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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