Made In Network grows burgeoning YouTube empire in Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When the Made In Network launched in late 2013, Music Row leaders viewed it as a beacon of hope for the industry.
Nashville needed a platform so stars in the city’s buzzing music scene could finally make money on YouTube. Co-founded by Kevin Grosch, Made In Network rolled out a slate of original YouTube channels that meshed creative programming with the city’s rich musical talent pool.
Just under five years into the company’s existence, Grosch’s behind-the-scenes expertise has turned him into a YouTube star of sorts.
The Made In Network has evolved into a diverse media company that operates some of the most popular YouTube channels and produces original video content for major brands like Salt Life.
The success of the company under Grosch’s leadership has helped Nashville’s inconsistent music-tech scene score an important win even though Made In Network didn’t precisely follow the path originally laid out during its launch event at the Belcourt Theater in 2013.
Made In Network demonstrated its impressive growth in January when it was announced that AMG/Parade, the Nashville-based company that owns Athlon Sports and Parade magazine, became an investor.
Producing original YouTube content is still a pillar of the Made In Network. “Marty’s Guitar Tours,” which features YouTube guitar lesson guru Marty Schwartz giving tours of impressive guitar collections, is one of Made In Network’s top original programs. But the company’s scope has broadened, especially after the successful partnership with the wildly popular Cinema Sins channel.
“In the early days of Made In, it was about developing shows and programs we thought might work, launching them and seeing how we can build audiences,” Grosch said. “That’s still a core to what we’re doing.
“I picture it like how I moved to Nashville to become a songwriter and an artist. But after I came here, I found my real passion was in working with other people’s music and producing and helping it reach as many people as possible.”
Cinema Sins boasts 7.5 million subscribers and averages about 2.5 million views for each video it posts on YouTube. In addition to Marty’s Guitars and Cinema Sins, Made In Network has also helped grow the cooking lessons channel Binging with Babish.
For those channels, Made In Network offers sales, production, administrative and marketing services, depending on what the channel needs. The goal, Grosch said, is to take a successful channel and turn it into a full-fledged media brand.
Think of it like a record label partnering with an artist who is already selling out clubs and small theaters in hopes of creating a star who fills arenas and headlines festivals.
And in addition to the channels under the Made In Network umbrella, Grosch and his team have also expanded into overseeing the YouTube content for existing brands. Salt Life, the water sports and recreation brand, headlines the list of companies that have turned to Made In Network to improve their video content.
Original YouTube videos are desirable for companies because they don’t have to pay advertising dollars to put their brand in front of customers. Existing fans of Salt Life want to see the ocean sports and fishing tips featured on the company’s channel, Grosch said.
Perhaps the most significant development in Made In Network’s young existence was turning AMG/Parade from a client into a core investor and partner.
Already known for its popular print Parade magazine product, AMG/Parade hired Made In Network to increase its presence on YouTube. After that partnership paid off, the AMG/Parade invested in Made In Network and came on as the company’s exclusive sales arm for its custom brand channels.
“We like to call our partnership match made in YouTube heaven,” said Tracey Altman, AMG/Parade Executive vice president, who added that Made In Network was hired after a competitive bidding process that considered several other firms. “After some time we began to see how forming a true partnership could really be beneficial to both companies. I think from Made In Network’s perspective, they saw value in an iconic brand like Parade. And we saw how Made In Network’s success is driven by a keen understanding of how to engage audiences on YouTube.”
To sell Made In Network, AMG/Parade can sell advertising spots for videos that roll before a Cinema Sins episode, or the company can do clever product placements in existing programming.
And, the partnership has also led to original content such as a new video series that features rival fans of college sports teams competing in food challenges for a series called “Eat Like a Fan.”
“It’s more than just creating videos, though,” said Monique Kakar, AMG’s vice president, for corporate marketing and video solutions. “Working with Made In Network gives us expertise behind driving like-minded audiences to really engage with the content.”
Altman, who is sits on Made In Network’s board of directors, said AMG/Parade was interested in investing in the young company in part because of what Grosch brings to the table as a leader.
“He’s so smart, he talks over my head all the time,” Altman said. “From an equity stand point we’re definitely (already seeing the investment in Made In Network) pay off.”
Reach Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tnnaterau.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com