UMG will soon be showing up on your Netflix list, as they announce a partnership with Sydney-based production company Grace/Beyond (GB) to develop three new series for the platform, with working titles ’27’, ‘Melody Island’ and ‘Mixtape’, Music Business Worldwide reports.
The two companies already have some experience working together, with UMG’s Republic Records currently releasing the soundtracks for Emmy-winning Netflix series Beat Bugs, produced by Grace/Beyond. The animated series was created in 2016 by one of GB’s principal partners Josh Wakely, and features episodes inspired by (and featuring) Beatles tracks, with Daniel Johns involved in the recording of the soundtrack, and artists like Sia, Robbie Williams, Eddie Vedder and Pink contributing.
In a similar vein, UMG will now be working with The Miracles’ founder/frontman Smokey Robinson on an untitled Motown-related project, with Robinson serving as Executive Music Producer, and Universal serving as primary investor. The soundtrack will then be released through GB’s Melodia imprint on UMG’s Motown/Capitol label, which also released the Beat Bugs soundtrack.
The projects are intended to kick-start an ongoing partnership between the two companies that will follow the successful formula laid out by beat Bugs, and see further series and projects built around Universal properties, beginning with the following three:
“A startling array of legendary musicians, artists and entertainers died tragically young at the age of 27. This series explores the life circumstances behind a fictionalized variety of characters coming to a crossroads at the pivotal age of 27.
“Viewers will be able to experience the series in a traditional linear format as well as engaging with it through interactive choice of storytelling. The live-action, scripted program features songs from artists spanning the UMG publishing catalogs.”
“Each episode of this animated series for children features a story inspired by a classic UMG master or composition with an uplifting message and tropical island feeling. Live action segments hosted by luminaries from popular culture will teach children a project or craft they can do at home with their families or fellow students in the classroom.
The series weaves encouraging messages with classic songs interpreted by contemporary music superstars.”
“Mixtape is a melodically rich episodic drama that mirrors the way a mixtape works – fast forwarding, pausing and rewinding on the pivotal moments that define the relationships, love and heartbreak of the stories’ characters. Each episode is based on and connected to an iconic song on that forms the 12-track season.”
Universal Music Group will hope to emulate the Netflix success of Wakely’s labour of love, Beat Bugs
Josh Wakely, Mikael Borglund and Trevor Roy lead the team at Grace/Beyond (a joint effort between Wakely’s Grace: A Storytelling Company and the U.K/Australian entity Beyond International), which has found considerable success with Beat Bugs, a project that Newcastle native Wakely had in the making for six years.
“From my very first meeting with Josh, I was struck by his unique vision and innovative storytelling that holds music as the centerpiece of his film and TV projects,” Michele Anthony, Executive Vice President of UMG, says of Wakely’s talents.
“I’m so proud to expand our relationship with Josh, Mikael, Trevor and the incredibly talented team behind the Emmy Award-winning Beat Bugs and the forthcoming Motown show. At UMG, we support and work with great artists from every medium and I’m thrilled to be working closely with Grace/Beyond to bring original experiences to life based on our extensive catalog and artist rosters.”
“It’s an incredible honor to be entrusted with the jewels of these catalogs of music and songs to create projects that will perpetuate their popularity and reach new audiences around the world,” Wakely adds.
“I’ve long held some very specific ideas that have been burning through me while I searched for the right environment in which to bring them to life. This agreement is a creative dream come true, as I know we have found the perfect partners in Lucian Grainge, Michele Anthony, Boyd Muir and the entire UMG team.”