The Orchard Serves Up Multi-Channel Network with a Side of BACON (From the Magazine)

The Orchard, a company that started 16 years ago as an independent record distribution shop on Orchard Street in New York, announced on Oct. 10 it has formed a YouTube multi-channel network, or MCN, with more than 1,000 channels across the globe.

It kicked off the announcement by introducing BACON, a system that automatically monetizes any video that’s uploaded by its channel partners. The system, which stands for Bulk Automated Claiming for The Orchard Network, is able to switch on ads within minutes – taking advantage of early views. This is especially important for music videos, which typically garner most of their views within the first few hours and days of going up.

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“It’s a proprietary tool that finds content on behalf of our client and quickly enables payment,” said The Orchard’s Chief Executive Brad Navin, who said the system saves the company 250 hours of labor a month by employees manually claiming videos on behalf of clients. “Plus, it’s tasty and good for you.”

The Orchard’s MCN is a combination of owned and operated channels as well as channels owned by its partners such as Pure Noise Records, Frenchkiss Records and Metal Injection. All told, The Orchard ranked as the sixth largest YouTube Partner as measured by unique viewers in August, with 21.2 million unique viewers in the U.S.

To be sure, many of the components of The Orchard’s MCN aren’t new. The company has operated its own Orchard.TV YouTube channel since 2006 and was among YouTube’s first premium content partners in 2008 when the Google-owned video platform rolled out its ad revenue sharing program. Since then, The Orchard has managed YouTube channels for hundreds of independent artists and labels.

What’s new, aside from BACON, is the way The Orchard has reorganized its business to focus on YouTube as a distinct retail business and fleshing out the types of services it offers to clients who distribute on the platform in order to take advantage of an emerging MCN business model.

“It’s a natural evolution of what The Orchard has always done for artists,” Navin said. “YouTube has become one of our top five sources of digital retail revenue, up from almost nothing four years ago. It’s become just another form of retail, but in a nontraditional way.”

An analysis of why The Orchard chose to go this route appears in this week's Billboard.