Shout! Factory company profile
Shout! Factory emerged in 2003 bent on feeding a nation hungry for fresh, quality, eat-in entertainment. Since then, that mission has extended from superbly packaged multi-disc albums and music DVDs to a smorgasbord of television programming, documentaries, animation, comedy, sports and the downright uncategorizable.
"I've always been a huge pop-culture fan," notes Shout! Factory CEO Richard Foos, who is also notable for having started his previous outfit, Rhino Entertainment, out of a yellow Ford van. "One of the first things we did at Shout! was the Groucho Marx DVD 'You Bet Your Life': The Lost Episodes – I've always idolized Groucho. I'm as passionate about the shows we're putting out on DVD as I am about music. Our vision is simply to put out great stuff, things that are fun or interesting or have an edge to them."
Foos shares leadership of the independent Shout! with Garson Foos (president, general manager and brother) and Robert Emmer (COO), both Rhino alums. The three approach every Shout! project not only as entertainment executives but also as rabid fans of pop culture's boundless bounty.
Initially staking its claim to the audio arena, Shout! Factory quickly expanded into the farther reaches of entertainment. The company is now recognized far and wide for its wildly varied TV-on-DVD selection and is coming on strong with an eclectic slate of animation, comedy, documentary and sports offerings.
Broadening the reach of essential music – with lovingly crafted multi-format products and astute cross-promotional marketing – put Shout! Factory on the map, and this endeavor continues to reap accolades (including four Grammy Award nominations in 2005). In addition to lavish boxed sets, Shout!'s audio adventures encompass multi-artist compilations, career retrospectives, themed collections, film and television soundtracks, spoken-word outings, and new albums from seasoned performers.
In 2003 Shout! launched a string of content-rich deals by forging a multifaceted pact with PBS's WQED. Also that year, the company acquired the Biograph Records catalog; welcomed New Orleans-based Black Top Records into the fold; and snapped up the holdings of the mid-century jazz label Bethlehem Records.
Unifying the company's incredibly diverse output is a special something felt by the consumer on a very personal level, a sneaking suspicion that the package he's holding was made especially for him. This is attended by management's consistent resolution to meet unmet demand, wherever that demand may lead. There is a belief that if the people at Shout! Factory want to hear and/or see it, someone else does, too. In related news, the firm's founders reserve the right to release something just because they like it. Their take on marketing is likewise played out on a human scale, with self-deprecating humor and the infectious beat of a different drum defining the company's voice.
Commerce, too, is a guiding principle. To that end, Shout! Factory enjoys a distribution arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment. The company was deemed profitable in its first full year of operations, and in early 2005, Shout! secured major funding from the venture capital firm Beringea. This coincided with a staff head count of more than 30 souls – specialists in acquisitions, licensing, sales, marketing, publicity, radio promotion, finance, production and design – and a second office-space expansion.
The Shout! Factory foremen believe that with revenue comes responsibility. The company puts its money where its mouth is with a range of philanthropic and activist efforts – many overseen directly by Richard Foos – and community outreach initiatives. Among these is the Youth Mentoring Connection, which involves Shout! personnel in the lives of South Central Los Angeles high school students. Furthermore, Shout! Factory workers looking to take Christmas week off each log at least 16 hours of volunteer work during the preceding calendar year.
This scheme was carried over from Foos' tenure at Rhino Entertainment, where he first became known as a corporate giver. A child of the classic-rock era, Foos also embraced the period's progressive social ideals and remains committed to those core values.
With little more than personal fortitude and an obsessive love of music, Foos built Rhino from the ground up, beginning in 1973 with a curbside enterprise dealing used records that became a small retail outlet and then a record label. In short order, Rhino Records (later Rhino Entertainment) set the standard for catalog reissues and compilations, earning a reputation for creativity, innovation and cultural preservation that has followed Foos to Shout! Factory. In 1998 Rhino was acquired in its entirety by Time Warner, with Foos staying on as CEO. He left the company in 2001 with his eye on a new venture.
Foos was joined in this by Robert Emmer, who started at Rhino in 1984 as EVP. Emmer demonstrated his knack for growing a company by quarterbacking deals that brought a number of significant catalogs to Rhino. During his tenure at Shout! Factory, he has similarly exercised his estimable acquisitions mojo to broaden the scope of the company's people-pleasing product lines.
Next onto the Shout! Factory floor was Garson Foos, former senior vice president of marketing at Rhino. Rhino is one of the few music companies widely recognized as a brand, and Garson was a key figure in the creation of the Rhino identity. He's also the one who spearheaded the boffo TV-marketing drive and fruitful partnership with WQED, which has accompanied him from Rhino to Shout! Today, he's making sure the Shout! Factory name is synonymous with uncompromising originality, winning presentation and a certain quirky joie de vivre.
"From day one, Garson, Bob and I have done this because it's something we love to do," Richard Foos points out. "That enthusiasm characterizes Shout! as a whole. You can feel it as soon as you walk into the building."
As Shout! Factory gathers steam, its dedicated workforce persists in excavating unsung TV treasures, laying claim to the world's most compelling special-interest assets, mining catalog gold and developing the careers of still-vital established artists. Meanwhile, envelope-pushing continues apace in the areas of content development, product and package design, marketing invention and brand recognition. Thus the Factory ensures that perusal of its titles elicits a deafening chorus of oohs and ahs and more than a few shouts of praise.
Shout! Factory: Making good entertainment better.