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Kudos are YouTube Certified

The YouTube platform is probably the most complex of all our income streams. In order to ensure we are capable of giving labels the most informed advice on YouTube strategy, three of us from Kudos undertook in depth YouTube training at Google’s UK HQ. Having passed an exam at the end of this training, Kudos is now a “YouTube Certified” company.

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You can find out more about the YouTube certified program here. 

YouTube has made the transition from being a discovery platform, where people check out new music, to a consumption platform in its own right. For a couple of years now we have been monetising UGC content (music on videos uploaded by 3rd parties) for our digitally distributed labels using Google’s Content ID  technology. Kudos now has active claims on over 89,000 UGC videos on behalf of distributed labels. These videos have been viewed 286 million times (1,250,000,000 minutes of youtube viewing!). YouTube analytics are always a little mind blowing!

Last February we launched our AVCD service for YouTube, enabling labels to deliver their whole catalogue (if they wish) direct to their own YouTube channel as pack-shot videos. We have now delivered over 8,000 fully tagged and premiumly monetised videos to 150+ label and artist channels.As you may have read, YouTube plans to launch an ad free subscription service in the new year. In order to take full advantage of this, we would encourage any label who is yet to partner their channel and deliver pack-shot videos to do so ASAP so it’s all ready at launch. In general, one of the core strategies to ensuring you receive the best possible return from YouTube is to try and move views from user uploaded pack-shot music videos to those on your own partnered channel.

As with any rapidly growing sector, quite a few “carpet baggers” have arrived in the “YouTube Content ID” space, trawling popular YouTube channels, touting for business. Most claim to be “the largest”, “the cheapest”. It’s worth pointing out that we charge the same fee for YouTube as we do for any other digital income stream, and that we are best placed to help you develop an overall YouTube strategy for both your own channel and your UGC claims. Content ID monetisation (which these companies really focus on) is the low hanging fruit. Optimisation requires looking at the bigger picture. Speak to your Kudos label manager for more information.

Apple has become one of the world’s largest companies by focusing on user experience. They design hardware and software that looks as good as it functions. Visual aesthetic has always been a massive part of its USP.

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So how does this ethos apply to iTunes? Look closely at any music product pages in the iTunes store library and notice the consistency. Everything from the use of capitalisation on an album title, to how a featured artist or remixer is listed, to the standard of artwork and audio are all subject to the strictest quality control, aimed at ensuring the best possible user experience.

As part of this QC process, Apple grades all aggregators (suppliers). Every month we receive a report from Apple on the standard of our deliveries.

The more our deliveries meet Apple’s exacting standards;

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The fewer releases are subject to quality control interrogation

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The quicker our releases appear on the iTunes store

Over the past 18 months we have been busy refining our label management systems. Each release is now individually proofed by an experienced label manager. If a release doesn’t reach our technical QC standards, it is sent back to the label for revision. This system of proofing and revising continues until we arrive at a release that is fit for delivery and release.

As a result, Kudos is proud to announce that we are among the first iTunes aggregators to achieve a quality control score high enough to bypass pre-store quality control entirely.

We are committed to ensuring our distributed releases are of the highest quality, not just in terms of the music itself but also how they are presented . We believe this attention to detail helps our labels’ releases distinguish themselves in a crowded digital marketplace.

iTunes Pre-order enhancements

In other Itunes related news, Apple have enhanced some or the promotional tools available during the preorder period.

Instant Gratification
Labels can now designate up to 50% of the tracks on a presale release as “Instant Gratification” tracks. These track(s) are available for download immediately when a customer places a pre-order, with the rest of the album delivered on the release date.

Pre-Order only tracks.
Labels can designate a track as “pre-order only”. As you might have guessed, pre-order only tracks are bonus tracks which are only available to customers who pre-order the album. Note that pre-order only tracks must be the last tracks on the album.

Pre-order price incentives.
Labels can now offer a special discount during the pre-order period.

To take advantage of any of theses, please speak to your Kudos label manager before you set up your release.

One of the most significant changes in the digital marketplace we have witnessed over the last 12 months is how YouTube has moved from being perceived as an irritation to a becoming a significant revenue stream.  Following Merlin’s successful negotiations we have been able to really engage with this service for the benefit of our labels.

We are now stepping this engagement up a gear.

 

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YouTube is currently one of our fastest growing digital revenue streams.  Up to now this income has been predominantly UGC (“User Generated Content”) matched income, where we have monetised the 3rd party usage of our distributed labels’ repertoire using Google’s “Content ID” technology which scours the service for videos which contain matching audio.  At the same time we have also been working with our labels to optimize the monetisation on their individual YouTube channels.

We have now launched a service that enables our participating labels to deliver automatically generated videos for any (or indeed every) track in their catalogue straight to their nominated YouTube channel(s) with a few mouse clicks.  These Kudos generated “videos” (the audio track accompanied by sleeve or label artwork) are fully tagged and optimised both for search and cross promotion/upsell.  They are also treated by YouTube as “official” videos and potentially attract Premium Advertising when compared to an equivalent UGC video.

 

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YouTube is, by far, the most popular streaming service in the world and is the 2nd most popular search engine in its own right.  It has a 25% user penetration across Europe (double that for under 25s). It is the 3rd most popular music discovery tool (after radio and personal referral).  In 2010, over 30% of all YouTube views were music (a figure that I can only assume has risen).  Our AVCD Service, coupled with our label manager’s guidance on best practice will help ensure our distributed labels extract maximum return from this important service.

HMV in Administration

As I’m sure you are all now aware, the HMV chain has gone into administration. The HMV.com website is now closed for business, and the outlook for HMV and FOPP’s remaining high street stores looks, at least today, rather bleak. This is of course a tragedy, especially for the 4,000+ staff.

I would like to reassure our labels that, although this collapse certainly will have repercussions on the wider music marketplace (especially in terms of removing competition), Kudos will probably walk away reasonably unscathed. We recently moved across to consignment terms with HMV which required that we buy-back our in-store stock, leaving a large credit on their account.  Our consignment terms also included swifter payments, so our debt exposure is pretty limited. There is an issue with stock, in that all Kudos stock on HMV’s shelves belongs to Kudos and under the terms of our agreement we have the right, now that they are in administration, to receive all that stock back. We are working on this and will keep you posted.

There has been much discussion about the failings of HMV. Certainly taking so long to embrace online sales and the digital market played a significant part in their demise, as did their unrealistic approach to pricing. From our perspective, as a relatively niche independent distributor, it seems that for a long time they forgot the importance of their core product; music. Ironically, just before their collapse, they started embracing significant changes that could have turned this around. In some sense it feels like they simply ran out of time.

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Kudos History with HMV

Up until 2008, all of Kudos’ UK sales were handled by Pinnacle (at that time the market leading independent physical distributor). After the demise of Pinnacle, we decided to take all of our fulfilment in-house. We quickly opened direct supply accounts with all the independents and many of the major names in retail including Amazon and Play.com.

We applied for an HMV vendor account and were flatly refused. HMV would not deal directly with us. Apparently we were too small to warrant the cost of opening up a new vendor. We were effectively locked out of HMV for almost three years.

In early 2011 we finally opened up with HMV when one of their directors fought our corner. He understood that for HMV to distinguish itself, it was important for its product range to include our labels’ releases.

The most significant recent development was HMV’s move to consignment terms. We supplied HMV with stock, but this stock remained our property. HMV then provided weekly sales reports against which we would raise an invoice. The benefit of consignment is that the buyers at HMV could stock a deeper range without directly affecting cash flow. They could also be a bit braver when considering new releases. As a distributor, it meant that we would no longer be in the insidious position of ‘selling’ 500 units of a new release only to see 400 of them back as returns (usually AFTER we had already settled with the label for the 500 sales). Over the last couple of months we saw a really significant increase in our overall HMV turnover. This was also REAL turnover (over the counter sales). Consignment terms can also re-cast the buyer/vendor relationship. We (as a distributor) could really use our understanding of the national market to work more consultatively with the buyer. Sadly we may never know where this could have led.

Personally,  I believe there is STILL a market for music on the high street. Shopping is still THE most popular leisure activity in the UK. People do like to get out of the house, browse and physically engage with music. Personally, I think the key, along with getting the price, range and environment correct, is to have shop staff and store managers that are properly engaged with their local market; who are not simply an appendage of some faceless head office. My fairy-tale outcome for HMV would be for an enlightened (and obviously very brave) entrepreneur with a music background to create an HMV franchise, with owner/managers able to operate like independent stores, but with the backing, back-room support and technical infrastructure of a strong franchisor. However, in the current retail environment with the recent collapse of Jessops and Blockbuster, I am not particularly hopeful that anyone is THAT brave.

In anticipation of the upcoming new album from The Herbaliser, group member Jake Wherry was asked to list ten tracks that influenced him and inspired him to start The Herbaliser.

01. Double Dee and Steinski – Lesson 2 (The James Brown Mix)
Double Dee and Steinski ARE cut and paste. Niftily spliced together nuggets of über funky funkiness. This was done using turntables and a reel to reel, and has aged really well. I still wouldn’t hesitate to drop this track at a club.

02. Lalo Schifrin – The Big Battle (From the Enter the Dragon OST)
As kids born in the early 70s, Ollie and I saw this movie and the soundtrack was a big influence on us. Dark with fuzz bass and hard as nails drums, a very moody soundtrack.

03. Gang Starr – Who’s Gonna Take The weight?
A James Brown sample looped up with a dope breakbeat overplayed with Guru’s super slick flow and a sprinkling of Primo’s cuts. The perfect blend of funky jazz and hip-hop.

04. EPMD – So Wat Cha Sayin’
Eric and Parish making dollars, and pretty slamming hip-hop. This is a club rumbler – the bass shakes the room still! It’s all about the rhyming and interplay of the vocals, held together by a rocksteady beat.

05. Malcolm McClaren – World Famous
Wow. If Malcolm McClaren hadn’t put the album “Duck Rock” out, who knows if hip-hop would have made it across the pond? This seminal album opened the ears of most of the British producers we know. This track conjured up such strong imagery of what the Bronx was like back in the day (when I was too young to afford a plane ticket to NYC!).

06. Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers – Ashley’s Roachclip
Chuck Brown; he put the funk into Washington D.C. and later was a pioneer of the ridiculously funky “go-go” music. This track from the mid 70’s is a great party track and when the drumbreak comes in at 03.29 it’s breakbeat nirvana!

07. Def Jef – Droppin’ Rhymes on Drums
I used to listen to this on my way out clubbing when I was in my late teens. From the label “Delicious Vinyl” – a label that I loved as it put out hip-hop that blended funk, live playing, breaks and great mc’s… hmmm, that sounds quite a lot like The Herbaliser! This track features Etta James singing on the chorus.

08. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)
From the golden era of hip-hop. Everyone wanted to make beats like Pete Rock or DJ Premier. Crunching drums rocking on an MPC60 drum machine, a perfect blend of jazz and rap. A pretty timeless track that I’d drop anyway still in a club.

09. James Brown – Funky President
James Brown, The Godfather of Soul. I always try and play at least one James Brown track in my DJ sets in case there is a 16 year old kid in the audience, who like me when I was 16, will hear the track and be put on the path of discovery to find out more about The Funk.

10. Lonnie Liston Smith – Expansions
When I was about 18 I started going to Brighton regularly for club nights. One of the highlights of the year was Rus Dewbury’s “Jazz Bop” and I heard this track played by Gilles Peterson. One of the lushest recordings of the classic Fender Rhodes electric piano, and the tune has a simple but powerful message. I remember hearing this and Dexter Wansell’s “Life on Mars” on the same night. Totally blew me away. Gilles Peterson was a huge influence on me and got me into some amazing music. It’s a shame he’s never really seemed to dig The Herbaliser as he certainly helped shape our sound!

There Were Seven is the new album from The Herbaliser, out now on Department H on CD and digital download formats. Find out more here.

Just found this Lifehacker post which I thought was worth sharing.

By numbers alone, there are more people that regularly sign into Facebook than Twitter + Myspace + YouTube combined. While we are all aware of the importance of Facebook as a way of engaging with our audience (Sorry, but I HATE the word “Fan”!), few seem to really know how to make the best of it. This guide looks at how Facebook works, and most importantly, the steps to make Facebook work for musicians & record labels.

Well worth a read.

We are very pleased to announce we are now distributing the Darla label group for the UK and Europe. Darla are home to such artists as My Morning Jacket, Harold Budd, bvdub and the debut Oneohtrix Point Never album.   Still loading up the catalogue.  Exciting Times !!

The inaugural Kudos Records podcast has been featured in the “New & Noteworthy” section of the iTunes store!

Hosted by our very own Ben Morris, the first episode features tracks from the likes of Part-Time Heroes (Wah Wah 45s), Krystal Klear (Eglo), Maylee Todd (Do Right), and Blue Rhythm Combo (Jazzman Records).

This is another fantastic way for us to showcase some of the amazing music being released all the time by our labels.

You can subscribe to the Kudos Records podcast right now via iTunes or by using the Feedburner link.

Random Testimonial

  • ~ DJ Format, Project Blue Book

    I always recommend Kudos to anyone who’ll listen as I’ve worked with them on several releases over a number of years and they are always enthusiastic, honest and hard working. Most importantly they are genuine music lovers who can totally understand and appreciate an artist’s or record label’s perspective.[read more]

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