BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started my career as a corporate attorney in New York and San Francisco. And then, 12 years ago, I joined Public Media Company, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to lead innovative opportunities across the public broadcasting system to strengthen the capacity and reach of independent media. As Managing Director at Public Media Company, much of my work has been focused on helping stations to acquire and finance new public radio outlets across the country, and in some cases, stepping in to preserve public media stations that were at risk of being sold outside of the public broadcasting system. Some of my favorite projects have been in the music discovery space, as Public Media Company helped launch KUTX in Austin, KTBG (The Bridge) in Kansas City, KKXT in Dallas, Open Air in Denver, KJAC (The Colorado Sound in Fort Collins, WNKN in Cincinnati, KRNN in Juneau, and WXPH in Harrisburg. Public Media Company co-founded VuHaus, and now manages its operations.
1. Give us an overview of what VuHaus mission is all about.
VuHaus is a collaboration of the country's leading public radio music stations, and through our growing national music network, we are helping to launch the careers of emerging artists in markets all over the country, while providing our audiences with a new music discovery destination to learn about the amazing talent that our station partners are working so hard to uncover.
2. How did you get involved?
VuHaus is managed by my employer, Public Media Company, and over the past 12 years, I've been fortunate to work with most of the VuHaus stations in various capacities. So as VuHaus' brand manager, Mike Henry, and I developed the original VuHaus concept, there was already a long history in place with the founding stations' GMs, and also with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which has been a generous supporter of VuHaus from the beginning.
3. You are a year-and-a-half in now, tell us how VuHaus is doing.
From the very beginning, VuHaus was incredibly fortunate to attract an amazing and committed team of professionals who bring deep expertise in the music and digital space. As a result, we have been able to attract and build out our network by adding a great group of mission-focused stations that share our commitment to artists and music discovery. We recently launched our 14th partner in Houston, and have another seven stations that are getting ready to join our collaboration. Each of these stations have PDs, MDs and producers that are literally experts at spotting and developing talent in their communities. So with each new station that we add, the VuHaus network benefits from this very active human curation, which means we are persistently introducing our audience to new and amazing artists from every corner of the country.
4. What have been some of your biggest challenges?
As with most start-ups in the media space, we are doing our best to navigate an environment that seems to be in constant flux, and dominated by just a handful of massive companies. We feel great about our non-profit mission to develop the careers of emerging artists and to become a premier destination for music discovery. And there is no denying the quality of the incredible and exclusive performances that our stations are producing on a daily basis. Our challenge is in letting more people know what we are up to and encouraging them to engage with us and our content.
5. VuHaus has gotten two grants from CPB. What other sources of income keep the service going?
VuHaus' revenues are derived from three sources: philanthropy, station fees and sponsors. In addition to CPB, we have received generous support from the Wyncote Foundation and the FJC Foundation. And through sponsors, we have been able to support our costs to live stream our stage at SXSW and other live music events around the country.
6. Tell us about the new Song Of The Day initiative and how it is reaching beyond the current participating stations.
We launched Song of the Day with the goal of increasing exposure for our artists by providing all CPB-supported public broadcasters with a fully-curated daily feature. We already have more than 35 stations participating, and each day, our PD, Mark Abuzzahab, selects a different performance that is then distributed to them through our embeddable player. The stations are then able to promote these artists on their social channels to drive new and younger audiences to their websites to see these videos. On occasion, instead of featuring a song, we offer a live webcast of a concert, which we are planning to do again next year for our SXSW stage.
7. VuHaus has started doing live streaming events. Has that boosted site views?
We love live streaming! Yes, live streaming does boost traffic, but more than that, it offers a great opportunity for us to work directly with the artists and labels to promote and drive attention to these performances. We are doing four to five live streaming events each week, and this brings an exciting energy and suddenness to the experience we offer to our audience.
8. VuHaus initially launched with radio stations only but, of late, you have expanded the type of media companies that are involved. Tell us about the evolution.
This is a really exciting new trend to watch in public media. Public broadcasters have limited shelf space in their broadcast schedule -- there's only 24 hours in a day. However, there are a growing number of public television stations and public radio news stations that are also committed to supporting local artists and becoming a resource for their local music ecosystems - this is a critical space that commercial media has abandoned.
So we were really excited to add station partners like WGBH (Boston), Oregon Public Broadcasting, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Vermont Public Radio and Houston Public Media, which are all known for their news and information and/or PBS programming, but are also doing amazing work developing emerging artists. It's our hope that VuHaus, and the experiences of these stations, serves as a catalyst for an even greater number of public stations to consider deepening their coverage of the local music scenes in their communities.
9. How is the cooperation of the participating stations/media groups evolving?
Unlike news stations, which have NPR, and public television stations, which have PBS, the music stations had no national organizing principal before VuHaus. So although our initial focus was on aggregating and curating video content, we have quickly grown to fill this void. We are now working hard with our stations to deepen our collaboration through concerted efforts around fundraising, marketing, live events, and music rights.
10. What lies in the future for VuHaus?
We have several new initiatives that we are developing that we are really excited about. Unfortunately, they remain top secret! But I promise they will include hundreds of new and amazing performances from some of the most promising bands emerging across the American musical landscape.