All-girl bondage company Harmony Concepts knows the value of adjusting to an ever-changing marketplace.
Founded way back in 1976, pre-adult video releases, pre-Internet, pre-DVD, pre the birth of just about every girl nominated by AVN last year for Best New Starlet, it has managed to stay in business all these years by continuously recreating itself in response to such new technologies.
If Harmony founder Robert Harmon ever wanted to create a new line called Bondage Survivor, well, who could blame him?
“We’ve always hung in with the trends, not resist them,” he said. “If they say DVDs, start making DVDs. If they say get on the Internet, get on the Internet. You have to stay with what’s happening. You re-invest in that which helped you succeed. And you re-invent yourself, too.”
Harmony started out as a magazine company — all-girl bondage publications, naturally, with such titles as Bondage Life and Love Bondage Treasures — and continued publishing them “until magazines no longer mattered, which was about four years ago,” Harmon said. (Hmmm. — Ed.).
About a year after opening its doors, the company started shooting super 8 and 16-millimeter films, then, in the 1980s, like the rest of the industry, made the switch to videotape, a far more cost effective medium. Since then, Harmony has churned out some 1,300 productions — yes, you read correctly, 1,300 — including ones with such titles (recently reviewed in AVN) as Coercion, Escape, Prelude to Peril and Roughbound 3, featuring both “name” girls such as Amber Michaels and Tanya Danielle, as well as lesser lights. These days, like some of their competitors and eventually all of them, they’re DVD-only.
“We characterize what we do as love bondage,” Harmon said. “Very soft. We’re really just pin up cheesecake. We went through the trouble of trying to define specifically what we do because we felt we fit a particular audience and didn’t fit a much larger audience. The audience we didn’t fit would be people who are looking for pain or depicting somebody at someone else’s disposal who didn’t want to be there.”
Despite some of the aforementioned titles, Harmon said, “Ours [depicts] consensual behavior. We very strongly adhere to that, probably costs us money, because it’s a narrow niche, but it’s a good enough niche to have kept us going since 1976.”
Gail Raif, who handles Harmony’s distribution, said, “our product is different than the other bondage. It’s the pretty girl being tied up rather than the darker end of the bondage. It’s more like a fantasy, which could appeal to more people, if they only knew about it. There’s no sex. There’s no 100 percent nudity.”
Harmony was strictly a mail order operation until about three years ago, when it began putting its product into retail stores.
“The time had come,” Harmon explained. “The mail order thing, you know, was kind of ruined, or certainly crippled by the Internet. People bought computers; they no longer needed to have to mail you checks for your stuff because they could stream it right then and there. Plus, every model who ever lived and her sister-in-law and her hairdresser, they all created Websites and started fetish videos.
“So that pretty much took us out of that. And all that was left, really, was because we had such a great library, was to knock on the doors of the retailers and see if they would want to market our stuff. And they did.”
About two years ago, Harmony stopped producing new titles because, Harmon said, “It just doesn’t sell. There’s so much competition. Everybody’s doing it. Who needs us? You know?”
But titles from his huge library, he said, continue to do “very well.”
“And we have our pay Website [harmonyconcepts.com], and on the Website we have about 400 videos, always, that you can pick from to stream.”
Harmon feels bullish about his company’s future and its ability to continue to adapt to the Next Big Thing or Things, whatever they may be.
“We were very successful, but we’re still successful,” he said. “I mean, we owned our market. We had a mailing list that at one point exceeded 10,000 people. And we were the only game in town for them. We would sell 1,000 copies of a video. Now we’d sell 25 if we’re lucky. Twenty-five doesn’t even cover the expenses. We’re still very successful, but we’re not as successful as we used to be.
“I think we’ll survive on the basis of a very good Website, our DVD business and the retail stores. And we’ll sit and wait for the next technology, because there will be one, and when it shows up, we hope to climb onto it.”
For more on Harmony Concepts, visit their Website harmonyconcepts.com; for sales inquiries, contact Gail Raif at 818.755.1029 or email@example.com