×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Music and Film Execs Look to Strike a Chord With Kids

Chasing the ever-lucrative, ever-changing market for children’s entertainment has always been a struggle, and nowhere are the challenges more acute than in music.

Variety’s Music for Screens summit will bring together execs from Disney Channel, DreamWorks Animation and eOne, along with songwriters Antonina Armato and Kay Hanley, for a panel moderated by BMI’s VP of Creative Relations Doreen Ringer Ross to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing music in family entertainment.

One of the year’s most unexpected success stories in the kids’ music space came via the popular “Peppa Pig” (pictured). The first album from the long-running British preschool show got a surprise boost in publicity when rapper Iggy Azalea turned her competing release date into a pretend chart feud with Peppa on Twitter, which gave birth to all manner of memes.

“That definitely wasn’t in the marketing plan when we were getting ready to put that album out,” laughs eOne global music president Chris Taylor, who released the record. “But it was something we embraced and ran with. It probably gave the album an extra little push, but I think the longevity of the recording is related directly to the brand.”

Peppa’s “My First Album” was preceded by releases and live tours from fellow eOne kids property “PJ Masks,” with newer brand “Ricky Zoom” set to get the same treatment. Taylor calls the preschool music market underdeveloped, noting that many streaming services don’t even have children’s music categories in their drop-down menus.

“It’s currently a state that seems to be really dominated by the Kidz Bop brand, but I think you’re gonna see more character-driven brands developing and releasing more children’s music as they see the success you can have with it, the longevity and repeat listening.”

For DreamWorks Animation’s SVP and head of TV Music Alexandra Nickson, the key to success in the space is to let go of preconceived ideas about the taste levels of young viewers. “My philosophy is, there’s no kids’ music, there’s just great music,” she says.

Appropriately enough, the music on the shows in Nickson’s purview ranges from the more obviously youth-skewing pop of the “Trolls” spinoffs to complex scores from the likes of Jeff Danna and Alexandre Desplat on Netflix’s “Trollhunters” series.

Adds Nickson: “My [views] about music really came as I became a parent myself, and realized that my children, even as young as 1 or 2, were actually pretty sophisticated in their palates. It was not about dumbing it down for them, but just making sure they were listening to great music.”

Armato echoes those sentiments. A veteran pop songwriter, Armato’s Rock Mafia partnership with Tim James has provided original tunes for such massive young adult franchises as “High School Musical,” “Hannah Montana” and “The Descendants.” Though she says writing for young audiences works “the same muscles” as writing for adults, the approach is “completely different, but in just the same way it would be different if you’re writing for a hip-hop artist versus a Latin artist versus a pop artist.”

Most recently, Armato wrote for her first animated property, “The Addams Family,” as well as penning the viral hit “The Queen of Mean” for “Descendants 3.” Working on the latter, she says: “A lot of the artists we work with now are the new cool kids coming up now, the Generation Z’ers, this new community of music culture, and we’re completely influenced by them… I believe that when you’re writing a song, even if it’s for a younger generation, you have to remember that they’re so smart, and they’re so connected.”

More Film

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    COLA Announces California On-Location Awards Winners

    “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Dolemite is My Name,” and HBO’s “Ballers” are among the winners of this year’s COLA awards. The COLAs recognize location managers, public employees and other professionals who help facilitate on-location production across the Golden State. This year’s awards program was held at the Universal Hilton. Finalists and winners are [...]

  • French movie director Jean Luc Godard

    How Anna Karina and Jean-Luc Godard Immortalized Each Other (Guest Column)

    With the passing of Anna Karina, a curtain has fallen on the French New Wave, that fabled cinematic movement that brought fame to the man who made her name, Jean-Luc Godard. Yes, Godard is still with us, as is “Breathless” star Jean-Paul Belmondo (practically the last of the living New Wave legends), but his moviemaking [...]

  • Richard Jewell

    Box Office: Clint Eastwood Suffers Worst Opening in Four Decades With 'Richard Jewell'

    Clint Eastwood might end up with a lump of box office coal after “Richard Jewell” sputtered in its domestic debut. Despite critical acclaim, Warner Bros.’ drama about the security guard falsely accused by the media for playing a part in the 1996 Olympics bombing ignited with a dismal $5 million from 2,502 theaters. It’s a [...]

  • (from left) Tom (Henry Golding) and

    Emilia Clarke's 'Last Christmas' Crosses $100 Million at Global Box Office

    Universal’s “Last Christmas,” a romantic comedy starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, surpassed $100 million in global ticket sales. The milestone is a win for original fare, one that is especially impressive considering the movie was skewered by critics for its wacky twist ending. After six weeks in theaters, “Last Christmas” has earned $34.4 million [...]

  • DSCF0855.RAF

    'Jumanji 2' Rules Overseas Box Office With $85 Million

    Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” powered international box office charts, collecting $85 million from 34 markets over the weekend. The action-packed sequel kicked off in North America with $60 million for a global start of $145 million. “Jumanji: The Next Level” debuted in a handful of foreign territories last weekend, bringing box office receipts to [...]

  • Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:

    Disney Plus Signs Exclusive Distribution Deal With Canal Plus in France

    Ahead of its launch in France on March 31, 2020, Disney Plus has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Canal Plus Group, the country’s leading pay-TV company. The deal, which was first reported in the French newspaper Les Echos and confirmed by Canal Plus Group CEO Maxime Saada on his Twitter account, marks a new [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content