Selling Music for Children
For a new store owner thinking of specializing, music for children is a lucrative, fulfilling possibility. From a monetary and artistic perspective, this is a rewarding retail niche.
Ron Brown, a teacher and owner of Intelli-Tunes, started his business in 1990 with a cassette of math songs. Today, he has an inventory of more than 300 songs and 21 albums.
Intelli-Tunes and Skill-Specific Music
"The success of Intelli-Tunes can be attributed to the fact that our music is written specifically for teaching skills, concepts, and learning standards," Brown states. "Our years of classroom experience have kept us keenly aware of the learning needs of teachers and children."
Brown says the competition is formidable, as the market is dominated by established artists and publishers. "I believe it is essential for music producers to target their audience, focus on a specialty, and stay with it. You have to do something different to stand out. Once you establish it, donīt change it," Brown recommends.
Eighty percent of total sales are to educators. Parents home schooling their children also rely on his material. In the future, he believes producers will need to employ a multi-dimensional approach to sales using a vast array of digital formats.
"Once children know the songs and make a positive connection to the music, they will in turn influence future sales," Brown explains. "Music creates an emotional bridge to life-long learning when used in conjunction with educational activities."
Good Music with a Good Message
Brian Beihl, president of Kiddo Music and Video, carries eight thousand titles and continues to grow. Primarily an e-commerce merchant, he has found that a general niche is best.
"We targeted this market because many childrenīs artists are underrepresented on the Web, but there was a moderate demand for their CDs or videos," Beihl states. "The most successful artists we have - Greg and Steve, Hap Palmer, Laurie Berkner - weave an educational message into fun lyrics and toe-tapping music. Parents are always looking to give their kids an advantage, so I would say education is a more important factor in the buying decision than pure entertainment."
Beihl believes that television, preschools, and daycare centers expose kids and parents to more educationally-oriented artists. He targets infants through age 8, so the parent drives nine of 10 transactions. Heīs observed that child input begins at age 6 or 7. Eight percent of his sales are to schools, libraries, and even dance academies.
Breakdown of the Childrenīs Market
Beihl divides the childrenīs market into two sections: mass-market titles and small label, independent artists. Traditional stores depend on their distributorīs advice as to what titles to carry: information driven by the licensing and advertising of the manufacturers. Disney, Raffi, and Barney are examples.
"I expect this segment to continue to grow as this marketing becomes more sophisticated, but as a retailer, you need to pay attention to whatīs being advertised," Beihl advises.
The small labels and independents sell on the Web. "While technology has made it easier for an independent artist to produce a CD, theyīre having difficulty getting distribution and publicity, even if theyīre great artists," Beihl explains. "Sound files and graphics are important here, and we will be working on this extensively in the coming year. I donīt, however, see downloadable childrenīs music a factor for another five years. Satellite radio may have an impact, too, making it cost effective to deliver just childrenīs music into a home."
Beihl says the childrenīs market is changing just like other segments of the music industry. The future is cloudy. "I believe weīll have a clearer picture in a couple of years as the market catches up with huge leaps in technology," he adds.
Writer's Bio: Julia Ann Charpentier is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and an editor for book publishers. Read more articles by this author