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Fast Talk: Card Maker Tunes the Holidays

Ann Herrick

VP, Strategic Music Alliances, Hallmark
Kansas City, Missouri

Ann Herrick, 37, puts together Hallmark's holiday music albums, sold at the 4,000 Hallmark Gold Crown Stores. So far, six Hallmark albums have been certified gold (500,000 sold) or platinum (1 million sold). Last year, George Strait's Christmas CD went platinum in just seven days.

"We look to our consumers and let their tastes drive our decisions. We've done market research on some 200 artists to gauge audience recognition, how likely consumers would be to purchase an album by this artist, and which holiday would be best. It is a long process. Right now, we are working on our Valentine's Day album for 2008 and Christmas 2008. We start research about 18 months ahead of release. That's a very different timetable than the music industry's. When you call artists about an album that far in advance, their first reaction is 'when?!?' But it works for us. Once we decide on an artist, we give them complete creative control.

We don't look at it like we're in the music business. Sure, we've had phenomenal success, but it is still all about driving Hallmark traffic. If you buy three Hallmark cards, you can get the album at a significant discount. It is all about the Hallmark product."

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.