K-Tel Records Retrospective
Unlike today where every single song is available on some website or download site, back in the day we had 45’s, albums and then came along ‘compilations’. Today, there’s compilations called “Now That’s What I Call Music” which are comparable to yesterday’s K-Tel but the music… not so much.
K-Tel would lead the way with massive variety from pop to rock, disco to polka, it didn’t matter what it was, K-Tel had a compilation for it.
Their commercials ran day and overnight selling great compilation albums with the hits of the day or great hits from the past. From 1976 to 1981 K-Tel sold $150 million in albums around the world. Hell, the 25 Polka Greats album sold a million and a half copies in the U.S. alone.
While we remember them for their crazy low-priced album and tape compilations of the 70’s and 80’s, they also made products like the Record Selector, the Veg-O-Matic, the Miracle Brush, the Feather Touch Knife and more. In fact, K-Tel, formed in 1962 in Minneapolis has sold over 500 million products since then.
In 1966, Philip Kives released the company’s first compilation album, a collection of 25 country songs entitled 25 Country Hits. Every copy was sold. The idea of compilation albums was new and the venture’s unexpected success led to further releases.
The company built the business of releasing compilation albums that combined material from a number of popular artists onto a single theme album using the tag line “20 Original Hits! 20 Original Stars!”.
The company negotiated directly with artists and labels for the rights to reproduce their original recordings, in the process also securing a long-term asset through adding those recordings to their catalog.