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Music Ripe and Ready For The Picking in The Orchard
An Interview With The Orchard Senior VP Brad Navin
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
2004-02-10
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[Editor's Note:For those who've been around the wen for any lenght of time, you are certainly familiar with The Orchard. Launched with much fanfare at the dawn of the digital music revolution, the company offered independent artists with distribution through major retail outlets through its relationship with mega-wholesaler Valley Media. But when Valley Media went under in the dot-com bust, so did The Orchard's problems begin. Fast forward to 2004 and the company is under new management and an agressive plan to recapture the company's initial luster. Not an easy task in the face of an indie music community with the memory of an elephant. So MuzikMan sat with The Orchard Snr. VP Brad Navin to give the company a chance to get their side of the story.]

In the not-too-distant past, aspiring musicians who wished to distribute their music did not have many palatable options; they could either sell their music at concerts, or beg independent shop owners to stock their albums. Both options offered limited exposure, at best. With the age of the internet, independent musicians could now post their music on a website easily, but the problem of exposure remained.

That problem has been solved by The New Orchard, which not only posts music on the internet for musicians, distributing it to all the major online digital portals such as Itunes and Napster, but offers physical distribution as well. Founded in 1998, The New Orchard has undergone a rebirth in 2003, fueled by new investors, new management, and a renewed commitment to fostering and nurturing up-and-coming bands. Brad Navin, Senior Vice President of Music & Programming recently sat down and talked about the exciting happenings at The New Orchard:

[MusikMan] Why are you calling it The NEW Orchard? What is new and different?

Brad Navin We took on some investment last year from a private equity firm, and with that came new management, new personnel, and an overhauled website. We've streamlined our offering so that we have a digital-only distribution model, as well as a Digital-Physical, which we've never offered before. We have a new customer service division, complete with an email address our artists can use to contact us with questions and issues, and we will get back to them within 24 hours. We have a monthly newsletter that keeps our artists up to date on developments within the company. We are calling it The NEW Orchard because there are so many new and exciting reasons for bands to check us out again.

[MusikMan] Why should a band sign with you, and why should they do it NOW?

Brad Navin We are the only company of our kind that is offering a non-exclusive physical and digital distribution model. We have the means to get records into both the major stores and the mom & pop stores, and we also have deals in place with all the leading online retail partners-CD Now, Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, etc. Nobody has the reach we do across the board for the actual physical distribution and complete digital distribution. We are doing business with all the major leading legitimate online services in the country including most services across Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Pan-Asia. It is not something that is hypothetical, it is not something that we are planning on doing; it is something we have already been doing for many months.

We use Loud Eye, the independent music industry leader, for digital encryption. We are an exclusive preferred partner of their organization, which provides us with everything we need to get the job done. They are an industry leading Technology Company handling the encoding and delivery of 80% of North America's music and they work with all of the major labels. Having a technology partner that is on the forefront of the latest encoding and delivery specs allows The Orchard to deliver the highest quality audio and release information across all services worldwide. We have successfully delivered our music catalog to all US based services far surpassing any other non-major label distributor. One Hundred Percent of our catalog (over 120,000 tracks) is currently available from iTunes, Napster, Musicmatch, MusicNet, and Buymusic. Furthermore, 100% of all newly added releases will be available from all services as they are received (as per the set uptake schedule of each service, which varies across the services).

[MusikMan] Tell us about the on-line accounting system.

Brad Navin It's something that hasn't been out there before. We're building a completely integrated accounting system in which you can take all of the information from all of our partners-whether it's physical distribution or digital distribution-and you'll be able to see what albums shipped to where, and when. With our system, there will be a summary of your activity across all the services, which is updated constantly, as well as particular releases by track, detailing what type of activity have been going on whether it is a stream or download. In addition, that will all be available online right at people's fingertips.

[MusikMan] How much do your services cost?

Brad Navin We offer three basic models, and there is a special deal in place from February 15 through March 15 for new bands and labels joining us:

(1) World Wide Digital distribution, which is $39, down from $49.
(2) The Digital and Physical distribution is $79, down from $99, which also gets you into the on-line retail stores, including
(3) On-Demand manufacturing is $99, down from $129, which gives people both the physical and digital distribution, plus the ability to manufacture CDs when they are ordered.

These are all one-time fees to join, and any artist or label can employ our services-we do not make any judgments.

The New Orchard gives musicians without the benefit of major label support the chance to actually be heard on a scale that could not have been imagined just a few years ago. Now, the company is putting out a call to all Indie musicians to help open up the floodgates to all the fantastic music that we know is out there, and to help make music history. www.theorchard.com


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