Smithsonian Folkways Selects The Orchard As Exclusive Digital Distribution Partner
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the remarkable repository of culturally vital music from the U.S. and around the world, announced that it has selected The Orchard as its exclusive marketing and digital distribution partner. This relationship enables Smithsonian Folkways to reach vast new audiences globally through The Orchard's distribution relationships with more than 125 leading digital music stores and more than 200 mobile carriers.
Based in Washington, Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the U.S. The label's catalogue encompasses songs of struggle and protest, blues and ragtime, jazz and avant garde from the entire 20th century -- as well as local music of islands from Hawaii to Indonesia. Folkways counts among its iconic artists Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Lead Belly. The catalogue comprises not just songs, but also sounds and teachings from across the globe, from recordings of the mating calls of animals to music instruction and spoken-word albums. The Smithsonian Folkways catalogue embodies the potential of the "long tail" phenomenon—whereby niche music can be efficiently and profitably sold through the burgeoning network of digital retailers and mobile operators.
"At Smithsonian Folkways, we recognize the important role that digital distribution can play for continued sales growth but more importantly, as a phenomenal new channel to reach music customers and expand the audience for our important catalogue," said Smithsonian Folkways' Director Daniel Sheehy. "The Orchard's deep marketing expertise, strong digital retail and mobile relationships, and incredible global network make them the perfect partner for us. Smithsonian Folkways' music is our country's, and other nations', musical cultural heritage, so expanding the audience for our catalogue is more than good business—it's a sacred public trust. We look forward to working with The Orchard to bring this invaluable catalogue to the digital marketplace in creative and innovative ways."
"It is a great honor for The Orchard to be selected by Smithsonian Folkways, a repository of some of the greatest and most important music ever recorded," said Greg Scholl, chief executive of The Orchard. "Smithsonian Folkways represents a unique model of how a nonprofit can maintain its obligations as a public trust, but also dynamically respond to market opportunities to advance the institution's mission. In the face of a slumping traditional record business, Folkways has proven remarkably adept at A&R and marketing. We are committed to assisting their continued evolution as they embrace digital retail."
The Orchard's marketing campaign for Smithsonian Folkways is designed to support the label's 2006 schedule of new and innovative releases – which includes never-before-heard folk revival rarities, new records from important global territories, continued development of the company's Latino Initiative series, and reissues from its deep catalogue of iconic recordings. Ultimately, this marketing program is aimed at further growing Smithsonian Folkways' business following a period of remarkable performance by the label. In 2005, the company's CD unit sales rose by 18% and its overall retail sales grew by 31%. By contrast, CD sales across the industry were down 3% in the same period, according to the International Federation of Phonogram and Videogram Producers (IFPI).
The Orchard distributes and markets an unprecedented digital catalogue – the largest in the world – of the best independent music globally, including landmark indie rock and punk from SST (Black Flag, Minutemen) and Lookout! Records (The Donnas, Ted Leo), classic hip-hop from Delicious Vinyl (Tone Loc, Young MC) and Nature Sounds (MF Doom, Immortal Technique), world-renowned classical music from Analekta and Qualiton, Bollywood hits from Saregama (Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar) and other top Indian labels, and much more. The Orchard catalogue also includes music from multi-platinum acts such as Green Day, Coldplay, and Ray Charles from when they were "independent," and breaking bands like The Hold Steady and Bedouin Soundclash. The Orchard works closely with all of the leading digital retailers and mobile operators worldwide to market and sell this catalogue, and assists them as a close merchandising partner with respect to independent music generally.
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