Nickelodeon, Sony pact for tunes

Duo team to produce, finance musical shows

The network of SpongeBob SquarePants and the record label of Shakira are teaming up.

Nickelodeon and the Sony Music Label have formed a pact that will see the record label produce and finance music-themed TV shows, while the Viacom net will mine its properties and help fund and create albums for Sony Music.

Deal is a four-year pact for what Nick topper Cyma Zarghami said could lead to between two and three music-based television projects over the next eighteen months.

“Is there another ‘Partridge Family’ waiting to happen?” she said. “That’s what we want to find out.”

Deal was motivated in part by Nick’s success with “The Naked Brothers Band,” a music-based tween show shot as a mockumentary. Band from the show has not put out any albums but has had several hit downloads.

First fruit of the partnership will come in the fall, as the companies release “Naked Brothers Band” record, execs said.

Nick will also spin out many as 14 music albums tied to new or existing television properties as part of the deal.

Companies have previously had a distribution deal under which Sony Music puts out albums connected to Nick shows like “Dora the Explorer”; this deal significantly expands that pact by allowing execs to sign up talent and function as a standalone label.

Zarghami said Nick has hired at least one senior-level staffer to oversee the joint projects.

Move highlights how television nets are looking for creative sources of funding as production costs rise. Television and music entities have entered pacts before–former Sony BMG topper Andy Lack set up a division for artists to develop movie and television projects under Jeremiah Bosgang–but the partnerships haven’t always matched expectations.