|Products||Television advertising, music|
K-tel International is a company which formerly specialized in selling consumer products through infomercials and live demonstration. Its products include compilation music albums, including The Super Hits series, The Dynamic Hits series and The Number One Hits series and consumer products, including the Record Selector, the Veg-O-Matic, the Miracle Brush, and the Feather Touch Knife. The company has sold more than half a billion units worldwide.
K-tel is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and has been in business since the late 1960s. It has subsidiaries or other controlled entities in the U.S. and the U.K. In the U.K., the company is known as "K-tel UK Limited". In the U.S. and Canada, it is known as "K-tel International", with U.S.-distributed compilation albums distributed from Plymouth, Minnesota.
K-tel was founded by Philip Kives,a demonstration salesman from Oungre, Saskatchewan, Canada. Kives had worked at a number of jobs as a young man, including selling cookware door-to-door and in a department store, and as a pitch-man on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.
Back in Canada, in 1962 he used his own money and his fast-talking demonstration style to create a new kind of television advertisement. His first product was a Teflon-coated frying pan.He made a deal with the Eaton's department store to carry the product and with a local television station to air the commercials on a per-inquiry basis with a guaranteed minimum.
Kives bought and marketed a number of products from Seymour Popeil, father of Ronco founder Ron Popeil, including the Dial-O-Matic and Veg-O-Matic food slicers and the Feather Touch Knife. In August 1965, he began selling the Feather Touch Knife in Australia and by Christmas had sold 1 million knives. Kives later began sourcing his own products, including the Miracle Brush, which sold 28 million units.
K-tel was formally incorporated in 1968, with Kives as CEO. The company operated profitably during the 1970s, and expanded both through acquisitions in its core area of business and diversification into other areas. Kives' cousin Raymond Kives worked as president of the K-tel U.S. division from 1967 to 1977, and the K-tel Europe division from 1977 to 1984.
In the five years prior to 1981, K-tel sold more than $150 million in LPs in 34 countries. Its sales increased from $23 million in 1971 to $178 million in 1981.The company diversified, forming subsidiaries in areas such as real estate and oil exploration and also acquired rival Candlelite Records in 1980. K-tel lost $15.9 million when Candlelite’s customers refused to pay for their shipments.
The failure of this and several other high-risk ventures forced the publicly traded U.S. entity, K-tel International, to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1984. In 1986, the Bank of Montreal foreclosed on the K-tel Canadian subsidiary, at the same time as the US Chapter 11 filing. [ clarification needed ]Advised by Minneapolis-based Sullivan Associates, K-tel negotiated settlements with banks and other preferred and unsecured creditors. Six years later, after all the legal battles, a settlement was reached with the Bank of Montreal, and in 1991, Kives got his Canadian company back.
In 1993, K-tel earned a $2.7 million profit on sales of $56 million,and in 1994, ranked #7 on BusinessWeek ’s annual Hot Growth List. Mickey Elfenbein, Kives' nephew, was appointed CEO of the K-tel International division in 1993 until the late 1990s. Elfenbein's son, Mark Elfenbein, produced the company's highest selling music products of the 1990s with the creation of the "Club Mix" series which reached RIAA gold and platinum sales success. K-tel increased its worldwide sales, primarily of music-related products, and had a successful NASDAQ IPO trading under the symbol KTEL.
In 1966, Philip Kives released the company's first compilation album, a collection of 25 country songs entitled 25 Country Hits.Every copy was sold. The idea of compilation albums was new, and the venture's unexpected success led to further releases. K-Tel's second release, 25 Polka Greats, sold 1.5 million copies in the United States
K-tel recruited Australian Don Reedman (twin brother of Peter Reedman, who was already working in the Australian office) to set up the U.K.-based division of K-tel Records in the early 1970s. Ian Howard was the Managing Director of operations.
The company built the business of releasing compilation albums that combined material from a number of popular artists onto a single theme album using the tag line "20 Original Hits! 20 Original Stars!".The company negotiated directly with artists and labels for the rights to reproduce their original recordings, in the process also securing a long-term asset through adding those recordings to their catalog.
While most of the compilation albums relied on the pop charts of the day, there were some that focused on hits from a specific genre. Examples include:
The company also created original records, including the Grammy-nominated Hooked on Classics series of classical recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1970 the company briefly began distributing foreign films in the U.S., beginning with Mr. Superinvisible . They produced their own Pardon My Blooper film, based on one of their records.
In mid-April 1998, during the dot-com bubble, news that the company was expanding its business to the Internet sent the thinly traded stock shooting from about $3 to over $7 in one day (3:1 split adjusted). The short interest of the stock swelled. The price of the stock peaked at about $34in early May, and began to decline, reaching $12 in November and eventually pennies. The sudden upswing was fueled mainly by a large short squeeze. Traders with short positions either "bought in" or were forced to cover positions at very high prices because of the great losses.
In 2007, Philip Kives took K-tel private again. The company completed a 1-for-5000 reverse split on July 18, 2007, reducing the number of public shareholders to under 300 and allowing the company to delist.It changed its symbol to KTLI and moved from the NASDAQ to the over-the-counter market.
The company now earns profits from its catalog of Billboard-charting hits, by the original artists, particularly songs from the 1950s through the 1980s. Tracks include "The Twist" by Chubby Checker, "What I Like About You" by The Romantics, "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard, "Surfin’ Bird" by The Trashmen, and "Help Me Make It Through The Night" by Sammi Smith.
K-tel distributes more than 200,000 songs worldwide per year on digital platforms, including Amazon, Spotify and iTunes, and licenses songs from its catalog for use in commercials (e.g., Nike, Fiat, Coke and KFC), films (e.g., Spider-Man, The Dallas Buyers Club and Hotel Transylvania 2) and television programs (e.g., Ray Donovan, Breaking Bad, Californication, Mad Men and Transparent).
K-tel has also produced Mini Pop Kids, a series of recordings in which a group of children aged 9 to 13 sing current, family-friendly pop hits. The series sold millions of copies when it was originally distributed in the 1980s. K-tel brought the series back in 2004, and has continued to produce recordings. The latest album, Mini Pop Kids 18, was released in 2020. The series is promoted by a touring group that performs shows across Canada.
Company founder Phillip Kives died in Winnipeg on April 27, 2016.
K-tel helped define the way people purchased music in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2013, Forbes wrote a piece on K-tel, entitled "K-Tel Records: The Spotify of the 70s", pointing out that the way people discovered new music in the 70s was through K-tel compilations, in the same way that Spotify playlists are now used to find related artists.
In 2013, Dave Grohl, the front man of Foo Fighters, gave a keynote speech at SXSW, praising K-tel for exposing him to music early in his life, specifically "Frankenstein" by The Edgar Winter Group: "Grohl told the crowd earnestly that the song's inclusion on a 1975 K-tel Records Blockbuster compilation – the first album that he ever owned – was "the record that changed my life."
K-tel infomercials were spoofed on late night television, leading to skits such as Dave Thomas's character Harvey K-Tel pitching Stairways to Heaven and 50 Psalms by 50 Stars on SCTV, Dan Aykroyd’s "Bass-o-Matic" Saturday Night Live performance, and The Simpsons cartoon series, where the fictional B-movie actor Troy McClure promotes widgets on a show called I Can’t Believe They Invented It!.
Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded on January 15, 1889, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1991, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.
Now That's What I Call Music! is a series of various artists compilation albums released in the United Kingdom and Ireland by Sony Music and Universal Music which began in 1983. Spinoff series began for other countries the following year, starting with South Africa, and many other countries worldwide soon followed, expanding into Asia in 1995, then the United States in 1998.
Priority Records is an American distribution company and record label known for artists including N.W.A, Ice-T, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Silkk the Shocker and Westside Connection. It also distributed hip hop record labels including Death Row Records, Hoo-Bangin' Records, No Limit Records, Posthuman Records, Rap-A-Lot Records, Rawkus Records, Roc-A-Fella Records, Ruthless Records and Wu-Tang Records. According to Billboard, "few record labels were as important to the rise of West Coast hip hop as Priority Records."
Phonogram Incorporated was started in 1970 as a successor to Philips Phonographic Industries, a unit of the Grammophon-Philips Group (GPG), a joint venture of Philips N.V. of the Netherlands and Siemens A.G. of Germany.
Ronco was an American company that manufactured and sold a variety of items and devices, most commonly those used in the kitchen. Ron Popeil founded the company in 1964, and infomercials and commercials for the company's products soon became pervasive and memorable, in part thanks to Popeil's personal sales pitches. The names "Ronco" and "Popeil" and the suffix "-O-Matic" became icons of American popular culture and were often referred to by comedians introducing fictional gadgets and As-Seen-On-TV parodies.
"WOW" is a series of annual compilation albums featuring contemporary Christian music dating from 1995. Comprising songs submitted by each partner label, the annual WOW Hits releases are usually double CD sets. The series was officially cancelled in 2019. Throughout its run, the WOW franchise evolved into the most successful collections of Christian music.
CFWM-FM is a commercial radio station in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It airs an adult hits radio format branded as Bounce Radio. The station broadcasts from 1445 Pembina Highway, Winnipeg, with sister stations CKMM-FM and CFRW. The transmitter is located on Road 54 Northeast, off McGillivrey Boulevard, near Oak Bluff.
Simitar Entertainment, Inc. was an American media company that sold music, videos, DVDs, and computer software. They had specialized in compilation albums, special interest video, and urban media. Simitar distributed its own label.
Luv' were a Dutch girl group that scored a string of hit records in Continental Europe as well as South Africa, Rhodesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Argentina and Mexico in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The original members were Patty Brard, José Hoebee and Marga Scheide. In 1979, Luv' was 'Holland's best export act' and thus received the 'Conamus Export Prize'.
American singer Kelly Clarkson has released eight studio albums, six extended plays, one compilation album, one remix album, and 47 singles. In 2002, she won the inaugural season of the television competition American Idol and was immediately signed to a recording deal with 19 Recordings, S Records, and RCA Records. She made her chart debut in September 2002 with the double A-side single "Before Your Love"/"A Moment Like This", latter of which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and eventually became the year's best-selling single in the United States. Her debut album, Thankful, was released in April 2003 and entered the U.S. Billboard 200 chart at number one. Thankful produced the hit lead single "Miss Independent" and was certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
"Easy Lover" is a song performed by Philip Bailey, of Earth, Wind & Fire, and Phil Collins, of Genesis, and jointly written and composed by Bailey, Collins, and Nathan East. The song appeared on Bailey's solo album, Chinese Wall. Collins has performed the song in his live concerts, and it appears on both his 1990 album, Serious Hits... Live!, and his 1998 compilation album, ...Hits. It is Bailey's only US Top 40 hit as a solo artist.
Quality Records was a Canadian entertainment company which released music albums in Canada on behalf of American record labels. They also released recordings by Canadian artists.
Razor & Tie is an American entertainment company that consists of a record label and a music publishing company. It was established in 1990 by Craig Balsam and Cliff Chenfeld. Based in New York City, Razor & Tie releases are distributed by Universal Music Group.
The discography of American singer-songwriter Bobby Vinton consists of 38 studio albums, 67 compilation albums, two video albums, three live albums, and 88 singles.
Spotify is a Swedish audio streaming and media services provider founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek. It is one of the world's largest music streaming service providers, with over 356 million monthly active users, including 158 million paying subscribers, as of March 2021.
Philip Kives was a Canadian business executive, entrepreneur and marketing expert from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is best known for founding K-tel, which sold household gadgets including the Miracle Brush, Feather Touch Knife, Veg-O-Matics, as well as many compilation record albums. Kives reputedly coined the catchphrase "As seen on TV", which was included in many of the company's advertisements. Kives utilized low-budget television commercials to sell millions of products and build an international business empire.
Greatest Hits is a greatest hits album released by American rock band the Foo Fighters on November 3, 2009.
Arcade Records was a British record company specialised in multi-artist compilation albums, founded in 1972. In the 1970s, it found itself in direct competition with K-tel and other compilation labels. In the 1980s, the original company was sold to Dutch entrepreneur Herman Heinsbroek, who expanded it into a worldwide multi-media company.
X5 Music Group is a record label based in Stockholm, Sweden with a branch in Manhattan, New York. Founded in 2003, it is a digital-only label that primarily licenses pre-existing music for compilation albums. X5 originally focused on classical music, and in 2011 its custom album The Greatest Video Game Music, featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra, debuted at #23 on the Billboard 200. Since 2009 the company has had 24 albums on the chart; all 24 were custom digital releases produced by the label.
Bryan Turner is a Canadian entertainment executive and entrepreneur. He is perhaps best known for being the founder of Priority Records in 1985, which was “the country’s largest independent label in the mid-90s” according to the New York Times. Turner served as CEO and sold a portion of the business to EMI in 1996 and the remainder in 1998.