As tech and recording industries seek harmony, Google invests in music publisher Kobalt

Google’s venture arm has invested in Kobalt, a music publishing firm that counts Beck, Paul McCartney and the Foo Fighters among its clients.

The US$60 million venture round also includes funding from the personal investment firm of Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell.

Kobalt handles payment of royalties to singers and songwriters from streaming services like Spotify and video sharing sites like YouTube.

Artists are concerned about how they’re compensated when people consume music via streaming services, Google Ventures managing partner Bill Maris told the Guardian newspaper. Kobalt’s technology can lessen musicians’ concerns about how they’ll get paid, he said.

Kobalt CEO Willard Ahdritz said Google’s investment shows that technology companies and the music industry can work together. Online companies are often blamed for contributing to the music industry’s financial woes by allowing people to access music for free.

Google in particular has faced criticism from music publishers for displaying search results with links to sites that host pirated music.

But tech companies are critical to the music industry’s ability to sell its products, Ahdritz said in a statement, and Kobalt aims to build trust between the two camps.

Maris praised Kobalt for attempting to tackle the problem of tracking how music is streamed and of paying artists.

Kobalt will use the funding to expand into Europe and Latin America, Ahdritz told the Guardian. The London company has now raised $126 million since it was founded in 2000. Kobalt claims to represent around 40 percent of the top 100 songs in the U.S. and U.K. at any given time.

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