Take it to the Hub: an Interview with Pornhub VP Corey Price

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It was back in early September that it became apparent something very unusual was going on when Gangsta’s Paradise rapper Coolio revealed that he had signed a new deal with a major company — not with Universal, not with Steven Spielberg, but, rather, with Pornhub. A few days later the (unsurprisingly) NSFW video for Coolio’s ‘Take It to the Hub’ appeared on that same website, and it soon emerged that Pornhub was branching into something quite different; Pornhub Records was launched. Their song search contest seems to be the main thing on their agenda right now (“show your love for Pornhub by recording the ultimate anthem”, their website implores), but what kind of music are they anticipating including on their roster? What kind of artist signs to a “porn label”? Is this all a sign of the ultimate decline of the music industry, a cynical, bizarre commentary on how sex always sells; or is this actually just a genius move on the part of an ever-expanding media corporation? Perhaps most importantly: how did Coolio get involved? I spoke to Corey Price, Vice President of Pornhub, to get some answers.

On expanding Pornhub’s brand identity via a record label:
As I’m sure you’ve seen, we’ve been on a campaign to diversify our various marketing initiatives, and as a result, essentially break down the barriers of how the mainstream sees our site, and adult entertainment in general. But yes — the record label is our way of leveraging the power of our platform, and digital distribution as a whole to enter different verticals. The power of crowdsourcing and audience engagement has shown us that we’ve been able to use our capabilities to not only launch a record label, but also fundraise for charities, find a creative ad director (hence the recent NYC billboard that went up), and much more. I’d say the sky’s the limit if you know the right approach, and while we do definitely have other initiatives in the works, I can’t say what those are just yet. Be prepared for some interesting surprises down the road though.

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On Pornhub Records’ demographic:
That’s the beauty of having an audience like ours. We can diversify our content and our roster to cater to many people at once when that starts happening. But, we’re keenly aware of the demographics and audiences that visit our site on a daily basis, and we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t from previous artist collaborations. Generally, I’d say we’re primarily targeting the 18-34 crowd, as the musical talent we’re looking for will ultimately reflect the brand and our message, so the content will be on the more mature side, but still digestible on a mass scale. You probably shouldn’t be expecting any boy-band type acts. Just an example.

On music genres:
Primarily, we’re looking for artists [who] will ultimately resonate with our audience and fit into the demographics that make up that audience. Speaking ideally, we’d be most interested in attracting well-versed talent, and submissions — regardless of the genre. As I said earlier, this is something that we’re very serious about in terms of expanding and growing; it’s a not a one-off stunt. We plan to stick around and make our name known, so we’d ideally like the musical submissions to have a certain level of quality that coincides with our mission.

On the Coolio collaboration:
It was actually a pretty casual scenario. We threw a party in Vegas after the AVN Awards [the annual adult film awards ceremony fondly known as the “Oscars of porn”], and invited Coolio to join us (we’ve been in contact with him before). We had a few drinks, and I pitched him the idea for coming out with some new music specifically for our site, and he totally loved the idea. After that, it was just a matter of coordinating timing and then we went and did the shoot for what would become ‘Take it to The Hub’.

//embeds.vice.com/?embedCode=p5Y2szcDoOE2244wo24aCYgMfFW6kmcA&playerId=YjMwNmI4YjU2MGM5ZWRjMzRmMjljMjc5&aid=vice.com&autoplay=0&share_url=http://www.vice.com/read/heres-the-video-for-coolios-new-song-about-masturbating-to-pornhub-213

On the importance of music in the bedroom, and music in pornography:
In my opinion, I’d say it all depends on individual tastes. Some people like to have a bit of music in the bedroom, some others don’t. Personally, I think it could add a nice touch of intimacy depending on the type of tunes, but at other times it could totally be distracting. As far as music in the soundtrack of adult films though, I tend to think it cheapens the experience — it’s a trend you saw maybe 20 years ago or so, and nowadays mostly in softcore porn (i.e. late night Cinemax or HBO).

On stigmas surrounding signing to a “porn label”:
Well that’s just the thing. Artists aren’t signing to a “porn label”, so to speak. They’re signing to a separate division of a company that uses their technology as a platform for porn, but that same technology has other uses — most notably in this case being digital music distribution. Also, the prospect of potentially having millions and millions of people check out your material upon launch is a very attractive thought to artists looking to establish themselves.

On the likelihood of female artists wanting to sign to the label:
We’ve had hundreds of inquiries at this point apart from the uploaded submissions online, and a very good majority of those have been female. I can’t say I’m surprised given the opportunities we’re presenting to artists for exposure — and many of these female artists are extremely talented, I must admit. It’s going to be a tough race.

On distribution:
Right now, we’re only focusing on the digital distribution, especially given the amount of traffic our site gets, this option makes the most sense as far as efficiency and cost effectiveness.

On the ultimate aspiration of Pornhub Records:
The entire concept came from our past collaborations with artists and musicians who’ve dropped tracks on our platform in the past. The general reception really resonated with our viewers each time it happened, which showed us the power that our platform can have. Those videos/songs managed to snag hundreds of thousands of views in the first week or two alone. That said, there’s also been a precedent set by services like Spotify […] that have shown that streaming media and digital access are trumping more traditional methods of musical consumption, which means that the music industry is now in a new nascent state that we feel we can capitalize on. We have a huge reach on our site — over 40 million visitors a day — which means there’s already a built in audience for artist exposure, and based on previous user engagement with artists who’ve debuted material on our site, I’d say we have an excellent formula for success.

Interview originally published in tn2 Magazine.

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