VuHaus: Public Media Sets a Digital Stage for Music Discovery
July 28, 2016
Public radio has long been a place where audiences have discovered new music, from jazz, soul and hip hop to bluegrass and indie rock. Now, the digital platform VuHaus lets audiences across the country tap public radio’s expertise to spot new talent — and it gives artists a venue to connect with new audiences on a national and international scale.
VuHaus (pronounced “View House” at VuHaus.com) is a non-commercial digital platform and mobile app that aggregates and streams performance videos, events and interviews from some of the country’s leading music discovery stations. It is a collaboration among a dozen public radio stations, designed to reach new and younger audiences. Launched last year with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, VuHaus has since posted more than 3,000 videos from more than 1,300 artists, drawing hundreds of thousands of viewers, and generating more than 1.4 million impressions on its website. Nearly half of its videos were viewed on mobile devices, and over 40 percent of its audience is under the age of 35.
“Our stations have a reach of 3 million people a week — they are the vanguard of music discovery,” said VuHaus President Erik Langner. “Because of their focus on artist development and their amazing relationships with artists, the VuHaus stations often capture music and share it with VuHaus before it can be found anywhere else.”
Unlike most music discovery services that use algorithms to tailor recommendations, VuHaus curates all content by hand, harnessing the expertise of longtime public radio professionals and focusing more on the artists and the quality of the music than the genre.
“What makes the public radio stations such a good platform to use for a video discovery streaming service like VuHaus is that they are considered to be excellent curators of new and quality music,” Ryan Middleton wrote in Music Times.
Program Director Mark Abuzzahab, a longtime public radio music programmer, selects the site’s featured videos, playlists, recommendations, Song of the Day and Artist of the Week. The 12 partner stations each manage their own local channels.
Musical artists appreciate the VuHaus platform, steering their own social media followers back to the site, Langner said. Courtney Barnett, VuHaus’ first Artist of the Week, has gone on to be nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist and still appears on VuHaus.
VuHaus was developed after the general managers of top public radio stations in Los Angeles, Kansas City, New York City, Philadelphia and Austin, Texas, realized that they were all producing and posting great video content on YouTube but not having much impact, Langner said. “They realized that if they were going to be competitive in the digital and mobile space, they needed greater scale through a collaboration like VuHaus.”
With support from CPB, the collaboration added KXEP in Seattle before going live in May 2015 and has continued to scale up, adding stations in Dallas, Portland, West Virginia, St. Louis, Vermont, and Boston. The VuHaus Song of the Day player is embedded on NPR.org and on the websites of 30 public radio stations, aimed at drawing a younger and more mobile audience to the sites.
VuHaus partners are not only sharing content but also aggregating underwriting spots, marketing, and live events, streaming performances from SXSW and other events. VuHaus and Philadelphia’s WXPN recently streamed the XPoNential Music Fest, featuring 30 bands in three days.
VuHaus member stations include KUTX (Austin), WGBH (Boston), KXT (Dallas), KTBG-The Bridge (Kansas City), KCRW (Los Angeles), WFUV (New York City), WXPN (Philadelphia), OPB Music (Portland, Ore.) , KEXP (Seattle), KDHX (St. Louis), Mountain Stage (West Virginia) and growing.