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Media Mavens

Their Kidz Bop CDs were a big hit--so these guys sought success in other channels.

Vital Stats>> Craig Balsam (l.), 45, and Cliff Chenfeld, 46, of Razor & Tie

Company>> Independent entertainment company and record label; media buying and home video company

Projected 2006 Sales>> $75 million to $100 million

Artistic Direction>> Law school chums Balsam and Chenfeld dabbled in songwriting with no intentions of making it big in the music industry. But in 1990, they refocused their music efforts and started Razor & Tie, a record label primarily marketing hit compilation CDs. Among their achievements: They were the first to use direct-response TV marketing to specifically reach the mid-20s demographic.

Chart Topper>> By 2000, Balsam and Chenfeld had families and saw a need for music that appealed to children and parents. In 2001, they released the first Kidz Bop CD, a compilation of kid-friendly, popular music re-sung by children and adults. February's Kidz Bop 9, which featured covers of bands including Green Day and Coldplay, reached No. 2 on Billboard, the highest-charting record in history for a children's album that is not a soundtrack. They've since released Kidz Bop 10, which reached No. 3 in its first week. Kidz Bop's success has spawned a franchise that includes international versions, live touring and toy partnerships.

Diversified>> Kidz Bop is just one facet of Razor & Tie's operation. They also run a direct-response media buying agency and a music publishing division. In 2002, the choreography DVD Darrin's Dance Grooves was their first foray into the home DVD market, selling 1.5 million copies. Other DVDs range from a Biggie & Tupac documentary to fitness programs. Says Chenfeld, "Our success is finding niches that other entertainment companies are not dealing with."

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This article was originally published in the November 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Media Mavens.

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