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Red Igloo: Fred Woods

A musician-turned-entrepreneur takes the world of kids’ production music by storm.

Juliet Pitman

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Fred Woods

Fred Woods describes himself as a “busker”. It’s something of an understatement from the man who has cornered the world’s kids’ production music market. “I don’t have formal music training, although I was a competent musician. But I also had something that many creative people lack, and that’s business sense. I realised that there was money to be made in the production music market if you just look at where the gaps are,” he says.

Targeting a niche market

That gap lay in production music, also known as “library” or “mood” music, which is written specifically for use in broadcast media. It was just before he returned home after a stint in Australia, that a friend asked Woods to take back and represent his library of kids’ music in South Africa. “I had all the connections in the music industry here already, so I brought the library back with me and started what is today Red Igloo Music,” relates Woods.

In spite of his connections, however, Woods was definitely the new kid on the block and Red Igloo was up against international big name competitors such as EMI and BMG. But he carved out a niche for his fledgling company, developing close relationships with leading music publishers and producers internationally and obtaining exclusive local rights to some of the most innovative and exciting music available. Today, Red Igloo Music is the biggest independent publisher and distributor of production music in the country, representing around 53 different international labels from the small to the very large.

A simple business model

The business model is a simple one. “You source various libraries of music, import them, distribute the CDs to broadcasters and production companies and then hope that the music gets used. As publisher you carry the cost of shipping, insurance, warehousing and distribution of the CDs and there’s no guarantee of income,” Woods explains. When music is used by a broadcaster, 50% of the royalty fees go to the composer and 50% to the publisher, in this case Red Igloo Music, which shares this portion with the companies that supply Woods with library music. “But here’s the thing,” he says. “The publisher only gets paid once for the music, even if the TV programme is aired 20 or 30 times. The composer, on the other hand, gets paid every time the music is broadcast. They are the ones who really score.”

Seeing a second gap

Woods saw a gap to increase the business’s income significantly by composing his own production music, focusing on the childrens’ market.“Initially I approached a number of libraries to do a specialist kids library but I got a lukewarm response. They all told me the same thing: that there was no money in kids’ television. But I knew this wasn’t the case – just look at all the TV channels for children in South Africa alone,” says Woods. Firm in his conviction that the kids’ production music market held untapped potential, Woods started his own production music library, Cute Music in late 2006, doing much of the composing himself.

With five CDs in hand, he set off for Midem, the musical equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival. The response was phenomenal. “By lunchtime of the first day I’d signed up six countries who wanted to use the music. By the time I came home I had signed up 18,” he says. “Why was nobody else specialising in children’s music? I don’t know. To me it was so obvious. The people who are in kids TV are making money so there was money to be made in supplying that market with music for kids TV.”

Scaling up to take on the world

Woods was now in the enviable position of being both publisher and composer, effectively doubling the business’s income. But he realised he’d need to quickly scale up his kids’ music operation if he was going to see real returns. “A library takes a long time to get going,” he explains. “You send CDs off and wait for people to use the music. It might take six months before someone uses your stuff and it’s only when the programme gets broadcast that money is earned. It can be two to three years before you see an actual return.”

Even though Cute Music is, to Woods’s knowledge, the only publisher focusing exclusively on the child market anywhere in the world, a large range is key to getting noticed internationally. To this end, Woods has added seven additional CDs to the collection, and has signed up sub-publishers in countries across the globe, which are responsible for marketing and managing the use of this music. “Fortunately, kids’ music translates well across cultures and production music even more so because it’s all instrumental. It also has a long shelf life – people have been singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star since the 1800s,”
says Woods.

Nevertheless, it’s important to keep evolving. “Children change a lot between the ages of two and 13. Cute Music originally aimed at pre-schoolers but I’ve been edging it up the age groups to cater for a wider range,” Woods says. “I think what’s been key to our success is the fact that we focus on quality. Kids know the difference between good and bad, and we make sure our stuff is
the best.”

Red Igloo
Player: Fred Woods
Est. 2003
Contact
+27 11 446 7217
www.redigloomusic.com

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.

Nicole Crampton

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Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.

To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:

  1. Livestock Wealth
  2. The Lazy Makoti
  3. Aerobuddies
  4. Mimi Women
  5. i-Pay
  6. AfriTorch Digital
  7. Akili Labs
  8. Native Décor
  9. Aerobotics
  10. Quality Solutions
  11. EM Guidance
  12. Kahvé Road
  13. HSE Matters
  14. VA Virtual Assistant
  15. Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
  16. BioTech Africa
  17. Brand LAIKI
  18. Plus Fab
  19. LifeQ
  20. Organico
  21. 10dot
  22. Lenoma Legal
  23. Nkukhu-Box
  24. Benji + Moon
  25. Beonics
  26. Brett Naicker Wines
  27. Khalala
  28. Legal Legends
  29. The Power Woman Project
  30. Aviro Health
  31. AnaStellar Brands
  32. Data Innovator
  33. Fo-Sho
  34. Oolala Collection Club
  35. Recomed
  36. VoiceMap
  37. ClockWork
  38. Empty Trips
  39. Vula Mobile
  40. SwiitchBeauty
  41. Pineapple
  42. The Katy Valentine Collection
  43. OfferZen
  44. KHULA
  45. Incitech
  46. Pimp my Book
  47. ART Technologies and ART Call Management
  48. Prosperiprop
  49. WAXIT
  50. The Sun Exchange
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