If one company in the music business strongly represents both the terms ?eclectic? and ?prolific,? it is the Philadelphia-based MVD Entertainment Group, a combination distributor, one-stop supplier and label that wants to be everything music video for the world.
Back in 1986, when CEO Tom Seaman founded the company, his attitude towards music video was, why just hear it when you can see … and hear it? He knew how powerful music home video would become, and during the last two decades has built a company that has released titles from artists as diverse as Gil-Scott Heron, Hawkwind, Einsturzende Neubauten, Martha Reeves, Artrosis and Glen Campbell.
?The plan was, and always has been, that we would not just be a video label but also a one-stop and distributor,? explained Ed Seaman, C.O.O. of MVD, who began working with his father Tom in 1989. ?We were carrying all of the major-label product on music video, all kinds of imports and harder-to-find products. From the outset, the idea was, this is going to be the best supply source for music video.?
A 40-year veteran of the music business, founder Tom Seaman had retail experience with Record Hunter, Sam Goody, Musicland and CBS Retail, plus wholesale experience with Jem Records. Initial videotape releases from MVD were indie titles from the Sex Pistols, and the company gradually grew from there.
?Early on, there wasn?t much that was exclusively MVD,? reported Ed Seaman. ?It dramatically started to build with the onset of DVD. But back then there were bits and pieces. We?d do some releases every now and then, like 30 or 40 per year at the most.?
Even though VHS sales were brisk, the arrival of DVD took MVD to a whole new business level. ?Our relationships with our suppliers, whether they were exclusive or nonexclusive, were very good,? recalled Seaman. ?We did a good job selling and a good job paying, so when DVD came around, we grabbed the opportunity and went to our suppliers and said, ?Let?s take your existing content and help you get it to DVD, and we?ll exploit it.? That really took off for us.?
The company?s inaugural release came in 1998 with Sublime: Stories, Tales, Lies, & Exaggerations, which has since sold over 100,000 units on VHS and DVD.
?That was a great one [to] start off with,? stated Seaman. ?It was a fantastic, in-depth documentary on the band from start to finish. This was very close to the band and done with the band members.? MVD has also distributed some unauthorized documentaries on artists like Ozzy Osbourne and System Of A Down, but they ?much prefer to focus our energies where the artists are involved and really get the artists engaged in the project, as far as the marketing and promotion aspect of things.?
Other early music DVD successes included the reggae film Rockers, GG Allin: Hated, and Better Living Through Circuitry. ?A lot of the things that did well back then still do well today,? noted Seaman. ?Once we really got into DVD and saw that we could be good at it, by 2002 our schedule got pretty aggressive, and we started going after better and better content. That?s still our primary focus.?
Beyond Sublime, other MVD music video successes have included Rockers (75,000 units), Iggy and the Stooges: Live In Detroit 2003 (50,000 units), and the New York Dolls: All Dolled Up (40,000 units). ?Style Wars is fantastic as well. It?s a 1982 graffiti film that?s a cornerstone of hip-hop culture,? added Seamen.
Given the recent DVD boom, with many classic artists not only reviving older titles but releasing new titles, one might wonder, are people more eager for new titles by older artists or are they interested more in their vintage releases?
?It totally depends on the artist and wha