July 10, 2004
Almighty Institute To The Rescue
By Ed Christman - Billboard
The Almighty Institute of Music Retail database is gaining traction in the marketplace. The Los Angeles-based online service, which launched in September 2003, now claims nearly 50 companies as subscribers.
The database contains roughly 15,000 U.S. music retailers, including online stores, chain headquarters and one-stops.
"We cover everything from the smallest indie to Wal-Mart," founder/CEO Clark Benson says. "We have put together a service that anybody who needs to work with retailórecord labels, distributors and managersócan use to save a vast amount of time and resources by having it all in one place."
Sixty data fields allow subscribers to slice and dice merchant information according to many variables.
The genre field, for instance, contains 32 different music categories, and a keyword search allows users to find many more subgenres.
For each store, the database lists nearby music venues, movie theaters and other lifestyle accounts; radio stations that affect sales; advertising and promotional options; and preferred point-of-purchase materials.
The database also contains phone numbers and e-mail addresses for all key personnel at the store, field and national levels.
"You can drill down very quickly and very efficiently to what you need," Benson says.
He cites one label's search for stores that specialize in folk, bluegrass and Americana and that use window clings. When the database returned a list of 900 retailers, the label knew how many items to make.
After generating a list of retailers that meet certain specifications, users can create mailing labels and a call list of names and phone numbers.
If users encounter incorrect information, they can fill out a form on the company Web site, almightyretail.com, and staff will update the database accordingly. The database also receives quarterly updates.
During the company's 18 months of building the database, it tracked the closure of 943 stores and the opening of 458 stores, including 60 independent outlets.
"They are very good at updating data," Hollywood Records national sales director Patti Hauseman says. "You can break it down to all [Nielsen] SoundScan stores within five miles of any movie theater chain if you want to do a soundtrack promotion."
Eddie Eastabrooks, a sales and market- ing staffer at Los Angeles-based Side One Dummy Records, says the database saves time and money. With more accurate information, labels can better target marketing and mailings. "We get less returned mail now," he notes.
SMALLER STAFFS CREATE VOID
Industry consolidation motivated Benson to build the Almighty Institute database.
"We have watched the industry changing, with labels and distributors having less [staff] to deal with retail," Benson says.
Staffers at labels and distributors found themselves with no time to update their own databases, Benson notes, creating an opportunity for the Almighty Institute.
Companies use the database differently, Almighty Institute president Joel Oberstein says. Some independent distributors have licenses that encompass their labels, and some labels deal directly with the institute.
The Almighty Institute offers different payment schemes scaled to the size and needs of the subscribing company. Some pay a monthly all-encompassing license fee, while others may buy a single list. The company charges as little as $150 to generate a one-time list of stores in a certain genre and as much as $15,000 for a one-year subscription. Ad: Pilates Anytime - Online Pilates Classes
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