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VuHaus receives renewed CPB grant, plans market expansion

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VuHaus, public media’s video network, has told RAIN News that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has renewed an initial grant for $430,000. The funding will enable the network to grow its station affiliates and expand into new markets.

A Music Video Portal for Public Radio

VuHaus aggregates music videos from nine member stations of the platform, and curates that content to make a distinctive and increasingly popular music discovery destination. Mike Henry, Brand Manager of VuHaus who had the original idea for it, told RAIN News that the platform currently contains over 2,000 videos of nearly 1,000 artists, and has a weekly audience of three-million viewers.

mike henryMike Henry is also the Owner and CEO of Paragon Media Strategies, and said that the original idea for VuHaus grew from a desire to serve his radio clients. “I had the idea of a consumer-facing portal that would aggregate the content of many of my clients, as a way of catching people online who are searching for artists they like. That led to the CPB grant — it was the first time they had funded a music collaboration. My job as brand manager is to make sure that the brand and the audience connect.”

erik langnerErik Langner is Managing Director of Public Media Company and President of VuHaus. He said that initial conversations began in the summer of 2014. “We had the idea of aggregating the videos and creating the first network of public media music stations, so we could have national impact for emerging artists, and to create the first national platform for the stations to reach new and younger audiences around the country,” he told us. “When that idea was presented to the GMs, there was immediate buy-in.”

VuHaus was launched a year later, in May, 2015, with the original CPB grant. Six stations were on board to start, and that number has since grown to nine. The plan is to expand to 20 stations.

A Bigger Magnet

For the most part, VuHaus videos content comprises videos the stations were creating anyway, contributed to the platform. The advantage is a bigger magnet — Vuhaus can be marketed to consumers as a music discovery portal, with the theory that’s more effective to grow one umbrella brand than dozens of single-market radio brands. The site is also marketed to potential sponsors, as a more promising revenue opportunity for VuHaus than YouTube offers.

Artists like the brighter exposure that VuHaus offers, and contribute their own viral marketing. “The greatest driver of traffic has been artists going on social media to share links of their videos,”Erik Langner said.

The VuHaus launch was quickened by the existence of Channel X, which Mike Henry described to us as “Like PRX for video” — it is a public radio video marketplace built by Public Media Company (PMC), of which Erik Langner is the Managing Director. The technical content management system (CMS) of Channel X was adopted and used as the backbone for the VuHaus platform. channel X was funded by the Knight Foundation, the MacArthur Foundations, and other sources.

Both Mike Henry and Erik Langner evangelized VuHaus content curator Mark Abuzzahab, who hand-programs the site’s featured videos, playlists, and recommendations. Both men credit the careful caretaking of user experience as crucial to the site’s success.

What’s Next

The new grant money will fund expansion of radio station affiliates to 20 total markets. Mike Henry described the value to member stations: “As Vuhaus grows, the expectation is that we’ll attract a new audience to public broadcasting, that hadn’t previously known about the amazing work done by these stations. If you look at our demographics now, roughly half of our audience is under 35, roughly 60% under 45, roughly half our content is consumed on a mobile device. By having a digital-first service like Vuhaus at their disposal, it creates a marketing and distribution opportunity to let a younger demographic become familiar with the content. We designed a service with our audience in mind — a clean environment, no pop-ups, no cat videos. We are focused on the artists and the performance.”

 

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Brad Hill

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