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Music looks like it’s growing again, so music services company Kobalt has raised another $75 million

Hearst is leading this round.

Kobalt CEO Willard Ahdritz
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

After nearly two decades of decline, the music industry looks like it is coming back, powered by streaming services like Spotify.

Here is a vote of financial confidence from people who don’t make or own music: Kobalt, a company that helps artists and other music owners track the money their songs generate, has raised $75 million in a round led by Hearst.

Kobalt had previously raised $125 million from a group of investors that include Google; CEO Willard Ahdritz says all of the money from this round is going into the company and not a secondary sale.

Kobalt’s pitch is that the worldwide explosion of digital services is generating lots of money for musicians and music owners, but that the money is hard to track down. Kobalt says it can make that easier. Kobalt also competes directly with conventional big music publishers and, to a smaller extent, with big music labels.

This one doesn’t seem like an obvious match for Hearst, which is best known as a magazine and newspaper publisher that also has lucrative stakes in cable TV, via investments in ESPN and A&E Networks.

But Hearst exec Neeraj Khemlani argues that Kobalt is similar to other investments Hearst has made recently in information companies that specialize in the hospital, auto and finance industries. Like Kobalt, all of those bets are on business-to-business companies that help Hearst diversify its portfolio.

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