Celebrities becoming the new media moguls
NEW YORK (AP) — Oreo by double-stuffed Oreo, Khloe Kardashian fills a glass jar in her kitchen with dozens of cookies carefully arranged in a pattern. It's a chore she does once a month to keep the goodies fresh.
For a subscription fee of $2.99 a month, now there's an app that lets you watch. Khloe and her much-exposed sisters this week launched new apps and websites designed to give fans a further peek into their lives — and fatten their bank accounts in the process.
It's the latest example of celebrities involved in creating their own media outlets, diverse projects that go beyond connecting with fans on Instagram or Twitter. Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Gwyneth Paltrow and Derek Jeter have found them solid investments that give them tighter control over their images.
"It can be a good business," said Ken Doctor, founder of Newsonomics, a company that tracks digital development. "It can be a big business."
—Paltrow's Goop website was launched in 2008. It has established itself as a digital player in the lifestyle area, offering shopping opportunities, trend stories and recipes. This week on the site people can read a Q&A with an expert on ear piercing, discover romantic sites for proposals and learn about composting. The site recommends products and helps you shop for them. Users can also sign up for an email from Paltrow, delivered every Thursday.
—Kutcher and two partners launched the site A Plus last year and raised more than $3 million in funding in less than a year, according to Business Insider. It's a curated news site of "positive journalism" reflecting the interests of the actor, who was renowned in the early days of Twitter for all of his followers. On Wednesday, the site featured stories on a philanthropist who is funding math and science teachers in New York City and twin brothers from Poland reunited after 70 years apart.
—Legendarily private baseball star Jeter seemed the least likely person to start a media outlet after his retirement, but The Players' Tribune is in character. The site cuts out reporters to offer athletes the opportunity to address fans directly. New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey took to Players' Tribune this month to address a controversy over how many innings he will pitch this season, his first after major arm surgery.
—Actress Lena Dunham is promising to start a newsletter, Lenny, this fall with Jenni Konner, a writer who works with her on the HBO series "Girls." The Lenny website said "there's no such thing as too much information" and said it will feature talk on feminism, style, health and relationships. In a preview, Konner writes about her mother getting an abortion.
—Jay Z curates Life + Times, an arts and culture website. Click on its home page Wednesday and you'll find articles on the DJ Rathchett Traxxx and the Web series "Money & Violence," and a link to Jay Z's video for "Glory."
Smart celebrities noticed when Arianna Huffington, a public figure but not very well known, started The Huffington Post in 2005 and saw it take off, Doctor said. Smarter celebrities noticed when AOL Inc. bought the site for $315 million in 2011.
Media investors have expressed interest in celebrity projects, which means more are probably on the way, Doctor said.
The Kardashian project was created by Whalerock Industries, a Santa Monica, California- based firm started by former ABC executive Lloyd Braun. Khloe, Kim Kardashian West, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner all have their own apps, at $2.99 a month a pop. Kourtney's app is still under development, said Jared Heinke, head of digital at Whalerock.
Each sister has separate websites where fans can find material, and it directs people to the paid app if they seek more content.
The material they've made available reflect their interests, he said. Kylie curates a radio station, Kim offers makeup tips with her styling team, while Khloe's app had fitness and lifestyle content.
"If Khloe wants to create an organizing video, where she walks you through how to organize a pantry, we will do it for her," Heinke said. "By the way, she did, and it's amazing."
Whalerock has also created an app for rap star Tyler, the Creator. The company will look for opportunities to work with other celebrities; a successful Kardashian app would be the best advertising possible.
"In every business, you want to both control your distribution and control your revenue stream, so I don't know why this would be any different," he said.
Follow David Bauder at twitter.com/dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder