The K-Tel Music Juggernaut Super-Sales Entity of the 1970’s   Leave a comment


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K-Tel International is an “As-Seen-On-TV” company, which is most noted for its compilation music albums, such as The Super Hits series, The Dynamic Hits series and The Number One Hits series. It is also known for “The Record Selector,” “The Micro-Roast,” “The Tote-a-Tune portable stereo,” and many other products.

The company has been in business since the late 1960s and is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It also has subsidiaries or other controlled entities in the U.S., the UK and Germany. In the UK, 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.

The founder of K-Tel was Philip Kives. Kives, a demonstration salesman who had previously sold cookware door-to-door and in a department store, used television advertising in 1962 to sell Teflon-coated frying pans to a large-scale audience. Kives bought and marketed a number of other products from Seymour Popeil, father of Ronco founder Ron Popeil, such as the “Dial-o-matic,” a type of food slicer that allowed the user to “dial in” the thickness of slices produced, the Veg-O-Matic, and the “Feather Touch Knife.” The combination of inexpensive goods, mail-order distribution and a simple sales pitch were a novel combination in television advertising in the early 1960s. Kives took his “Feather Touch Knife” on the road to Australia starting in August 1965 and by Christmas had sold one million knives with a net profit of one dollar a knife.

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 could earn revenue in this way, because they 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. The compilation albums largely relied on the pop charts of the time but concentrated on a specific musical genre: 20 Power Hits, for example, released in 1973, mostly concentrated on rock, though it had “Yesterday Once More” by The Carpenters on it. Some compilations were made for the disco music market (Night Moves, 1979), whereas others featured older music (Summer Cruisin’, made in about 1976, featured mostly 1950s music).

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Posted April 1, 2016 by markosun in Music

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