Born on DRTV, Kidz Bop Shifts to Retail

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Kidz Bop, the Razor & Tie series of contemporary pop music compilations adapted for children, has entered its fifth incarnation as the product that made its name on DRTV continued its shift to retail sales.

Entertainment company Razor & Tie released Kidz Bop 5 on Feb. 24 to retail stores, but a double-CD version had been available since late December via a DRTV spot. The Kidz Bop series became the "best-selling kids music" brand in the nation, according to the company, by relying almost exclusively on DRTV sales when the product launched in 2002.

"We did not create a group and go out and tour," said Cliff Chenfield, co-owner of Razor & Tie. "What we did was make a 60-second spot."

The previous installment in the series, Kidz Bop 4, reached No. 14 overall on the Billboard charts, where it competed with mainstream music, Chenfield said. The brand sells 500,000 to 1 million copies per release, and Razor & Tie is producing two installments of Kidz Bop yearly.

Chenfield and his partner, Craig Balsam, conceived of Kidz Bop as a product that would fill a musical gap for children ages 7-12. Those children are too old for Barney-style "kiddie" music but young enough that parents are concerned about exposing them to adult pop music, Chenfield said.

For Kidz Bop, Razor & Tie records a group of kids singing pop songs with content acceptable for children. Kidz Bop is actually two products, one for retail and one for DRTV.

The DRTV product is a two-disc compilation available for $24.98, while the retail product is a single disc containing highlights from the DRTV product and available for $17.98. Razor & Tie focuses its DRTV media buys on cable channels with children's demographics including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Toon Disney.

"With kids music, there's a couple key outlets," Chenfield said. "Those outlets can be expensive, and you have to get a strong response."

The DRTV campaigns have been so successful that they became less necessary as the popularity of Kidz Bop grew, Chenfield said. With a well-established brand, Razor & Tie needed less advertising volume for Kidz Bop and relied more on retail distribution through BMG.

When Kids Bop began in 2002, DRTV was a profit center, generating revenue for the brand, Chenfield said. Now, costs and revenue from DRTV are about even, and DRTV pulls in only 20 percent of revenue for Kidz Bop.

For Kidz Bop 1, Razor & Tie did a DRTV campaign for about seven months, Chenfield said. Now the DRTV runs generally two to three months.

Though they haven't been part of the marketing mix, brand extensions such as concert tours and television appearances could happen for Kidz Bop, Chenfield said. Nevertheless, it was through DRTV that Razor & Tie established the brand without radio play or MTV appearances.

"DRTV pays for itself," Chenfield said. "You really get to do this marketing without expending significant resources."

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