Unless you are one of a few select artists like Taylor Swift, these are not the easiest times to be in the music industry. Distribution methods and payment models are changing and, because of the wide variety of distribution methods, it is harder than ever to get and maintain a large loyal fan base. However, the juggernaut of Kidz Bop is an exception to the rule.
Kidz Bop is a franchise created by Craig Balsam and Cliff Chenfeld, two ex-lawyers turned entrepreneurs who started selling compilation albums in the 1990s. They noticed an opening in the children's/pop music market as pop music became too edgy and raunchy for many parents to tolerate. Thus Kidz Bop was born — sanitized versions of pop hits, sung by teen/tween session artists and aimed squarely at giving kids versions of hits that are acceptable to parents.
The first Kidz Bop album came out in September 2001 with versions of then-current hits like Blink-182's "All The Small Things" and Sugar Ray's "Fly" using various adolescent session singers and simple production values. Fast-forward to October 2015 to the release of "Kidz Bop 30", featuring a set cast of well-promoted 11-to-13-year old singers (the third set lineup), an upcoming tour, and a first for the Kidz Bop albums — an original song. The last track on "Kidz Bop 30" is "Make Some Noise," an original track with the positive message that kids can do anything that they put their minds to do.
Kidz Bop has become much more than the albums, which had been released at the rate of two per year plus the occasional seasonal or special CD like "Kidz Bop Sings the Beatles" but will now come at the rate of four per year. There is a YouTube channel, a show on Sirius XM satellite radio, and a multi-city tour filled with screaming kids and several parents who, we presume, drew the short straw. (In fairness, there are plenty of parents who like Kidz Bop and/or remember it fondly from their youth.)
Of course, the 2015 tour is called the "Make Some Noise Tour" to correspond with the original track. It makes a perfect segue to pump up the crowd — not that the crowd needs much pumping.
Kidz Bop is doing great business thanks to a loyal young fan base and desperate parents who are willing to accommodate them. According to Billboard, as of April 2015, Kidz Bop had sold over 15.4 million albums and 4.3 million downloaded tracks. For children's music, those are phenomenal numbers. In 2013 alone, Kidz Bop releases accounted for just under 19% of all sales in the children's music genre.
To give that some perspective, the ultra-successful Taylor Swift has sold approximately 27.6 million albums to date (obviously over a shorter time and with far fewer releases), while, according to the Shady Records website, Eminem has sold around 49.1 million albums and 42 million downloaded tracks in a career spanning back to 1996.
Of course, there is auxiliary merchandising galore. You can even buy a Kidz Bop musical toothbrush that plays two minutes of Kidz Bop music to help your kids brush for the proper amount of time — that, in the grand scheme of merchandising items, really is not a bad idea. Our kids love brushing to “Boom Clap”.
Perhaps in 50 years, today's kids will be listening to their grandchildren playing their "Kidz Bop 200" album through the technology of the day (if tunes aren't beamed directly into people's heads by then). The seniors will probably be complaining about how music today is just noise and reminiscing about the oldies but goodies like "Uma Thurman" and "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" while their grandchildren roll their eyes. Some things never change.