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Business News (more headlines) 10-17-2003

"New" Orchard Launches With New Investors, Management Team

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NEW YORK (10/16/03) — Orchard Global Media Group (GMG) announced today that it has finalized a high seven-figure equity investment by a private fund investing exclusively in independent music. In addition, the company has selected Greg Scholl as its new president & CEO. Scholl joins The Orchard from McKinsey & Company, where he was an associate principal working with media and entertainment companies. Previously, he was managing director of Carlin Ventures LLC, a New York-based venture capital firm that invested in technology and media businesses.

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The Orchard, founded in 1997 by legendary songwriter, producer, and Sire Records Co-founder Richard Gottehrer, and artist manager Scott Cohen, was the first company in the history of the music business to provide access to traditional retail distribution for independent artists and smaller independent labels. Today, The Orchard boasts the largest catalog of independent music in the world, with over 120,000 tracks from 2,500 labels representing music from 48 countries, and every sub-genre.

"We are thrilled to have Greg join us to lead the company into the new digital music era," said Gottehrer, who will remain chairman of the company. "He is a talented and capable executive with the right mix of skills to move the company to the next level. We are also excited to finally be in a position financially to realize the vision of The Orchard – which is to ensure that artists throughout the world have a level playing field for distributing their music, in any format, anywhere."

"Our first order of business is getting right with the artists and labels that have patiently stuck it out with us despite the challenges The Orchard faced over the past several years," said Scholl "After receiving funding, we paid out a substantial amount to our artists and labels. We are in the process of implementing clearer policies about payment terms, along with making technology investments that will allow artists who use our service complete transparency into their accounts – what is where, what sold when, and what was paid when."

Other priority initiatives include cementing business relationships with all of the existing and planned Digital Music Service Providers (DMSPs), and working with partner Loudeye to ensure titles are encoded, loaded into the services, and made available for sale in a timely manner.

"Over the next several months, we will roll out a series of web-based tools designed to help our partners merchandise and sell The Orchard's content, whether it's an indie rock band from Tuscaloosa, or a Tuvan throat singer. We have several DMSPs and a number of artists and labels who are excited to participate in our beta program as we develop and refine this service, and expect our sales tools to significantly help the artists and labels we represent get appropriate placement for their creative output," said Scholl. "In addition, we are excited to soon announce the largest set of sales channels available for artists and labels anywhere outside of the majors – a landmark accomplishment."

The Orchard is also aggressively pursuing global content partnerships.

"We believe content from geographies outside of the US will benefit greatly as these emerging digital services develop, and we intend to invest aggressively in developing the right international partnerships. We recently opened an office in London, which will be run by our General Manager for Europe, Jason Ojalvo. Jason and the team in London will serve our European artists and labels, and take advantage of our partnership with OD2, which provides the technology the back-end for all of the legitimate online digital music services across Europe. Also, we will soon announce an exciting partnership to service Australia and the Far East, with more international partnerships in the works," said Scholl.

"It is thrilling for Scott and I to finally see the right pieces in place to make our vision for The Orchard a reality," said Gottehrer. "This is the most exciting time in my 40 years as part of the ebb and flow of the music industry – it's like the birth of rock and roll, all over again."

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