As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Youth Services librarian in a medium sized suburban library. A couple of weeks ago, the relevancy of CDs came up in a networking group of children’s librarians. The question was – are the children’s music collections in public libraries still being checked out? Roughly 90% of the respondents said that even before the pandemic folks had stopped checking the music out and that they had either already removed their music collections or were in the process of doing so. Even though streaming music and viewing music videos on YouTube are on the rise, I still found myself surprised by this, especially since our music collection still sees a lot of use. Shortly after that, a call went out among youth library staff in a national networking group looking for songs on a certain theme. The majority of the suggestions made were songs by artists who have been used in programs for years and years. Both of these discussions raised the questions for me – How do we get library staff to move beyond the old standbys? And how will our families learn of new, exciting, diverse performers with songs that don’t sound like stereotypical children’s music, if we don’t introduce them through the physical CD or our programs? That’s where 8 Pound Gorilla Records comes in.
A division of the Nashville based 800 Pound Gorilla Media, 8 Pound Gorilla Records is the first foray into children’s music by company founders Ryan Bitzer and Damion Greiman. Employing custom marketing strategies, unique digital branding and analytics-driven audience-building tactics Bitzer and Greiman hope to bring this under-served genre into the spotlight. As Bitzer notes, “There’s a veritable treasure-trove of talented artists around the world making high-quality, family-oriented music that remains largely unknown to mainstream audiences. 8 Pound Gorilla Records is building a platform for this genre that will bring increased awareness and opportunities for these talented performers. We’re partnering with the best independent kids’ musicians on the planet to help build a community of music and joy for families everywhere.”
And just how are they finding these kids’ musicians? With the assistance of the incomparable Kenny Curtis, of Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live fame. In his role heading up the A&R curation at 8 Pound Gorilla Records, Curtis’s depth of children’s music knowledge aided in putting together an impressive initial roster of artists including GRAMMY-nominated SaulPaul, Latin GRAMMY winners The Lucky Band, Frances England, Elliott Park, Genevieve Goings, and GRAMMY winner Tim Kubart, as well as Mike Phirman, Erica Rabner, Rabbit!, Raii & Whitney, DJ WillyWow and Australia’s Formidable Vegetable. If this is just the initial roster, I can’t wait to see who they will add next!
While the fate of the physical album still remains to be seen, the arrival of this new label signals a broader recognition of the value of children’s music. As educators, librarians, and artists, we’ve known for years how amazing and powerful children’s music is; it’s time for the rest of the world to know it too. Welcome to children’s music 8 Pound Gorilla Records! We’re glad you’re here.