A couple of major industry players are planning to put their spin on music documentaries and scripted content.
Warner Music Group and SK Global announced a partnership Thursday that will see the companies co-produce and co-finance a slate of music-oriented nonfiction and fiction projects “mined from WMG’s extraordinary roster of artists and songwriters, as well as its expansive global catalog.” The pact also calls for producing local language content.
“The partnership will pay special attention to WMG’s vast array of celebrated international artists,” a release noted, “particularly across the U.S., Asia, and Latin America.”
The announcement came from SK Global Chairman Sidney Kimmel, co-CEOs John Penotti and Charlie Corwin, and Charlie Cohen, president, Warner Music Entertainment, WMG’s TV and Film Division.
“We could not be more pleased to join hands with our longtime friend Charlie Cohen and his immensely talented team around the globe,” Penotti and Corwin said in a statement. “This deal will allow us to support groundbreaking filmmaking and expand upon SK Global’s mission to produce culturally significant, globally minded premium content with English speaking and local-language opportunities.”
WMG’s Cohen said, “As we continue to expand our film and TV operation, this partnership perfectly combines the global reach of our two companies and opens up new opportunities for all involved. We’re thrilled to bring WMG’s vast array of artists, songwriters, and catalogs together with SK Global’s internationally focused team to create innovative content for global and local markets around the world.”
Music documentaries—either built around current artists like Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, or legacy artists like the Bee Gees and Tina Turner—represent one of the hottest segments of the nonfiction sphere. Universal Music Group divisions Polygram Entertainment and Mercury Studios have been particularly active in the space.
Polygram is among the producers of Peter Jackson’s docuseries The Beatles: Get Back, set for release on Disney+ next month. It’s also a producer of Todd Haynes’ awards-contending documentary The Velvet Underground, which premiered at Cannes. Mercury Studios produced the Apple TV+ docuseries 1971: The Year Music Changed Everything, from Oscar-winning director Asif Kapadia (Amy).
The WMG-SK Global pact is further evidence of a dawning realization that record labels are sitting on a goldmine: the basis for scripted and unscripted projects that can garner audiences and also serve to boost record sales of artists and enhance the value of music publishing assets.
WMG and SK Global did not announce its initial projects, fiction or nonfiction, but word on their inaugural films or series is expected soon. The deal was negotiated on behalf of SK Global by Brian Kornreich, head of business and legal affairs. It will be overseen by SK Global’s Mark O’Connor and Jo Henriquez.
SK Global is currently filming the Netflix untitled Thai Cave Rescue limited series in Thailand. Its upcoming projects include season two of the Hindi-language Netflix series Delhi Crime.
Warner Music Group’s Warner Music Entertainment division is behind “a variety of acclaimed long-form television series, films, and documentaries,” including David Byrne’s Emmy-nominated HBO special, American Utopia; National Geographic’s Emmy-nominated Genius: Aretha, and the Emmy-nominated Epix two-part docuseries, Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time.