Scooter Braun’s SB Projects is jumping into animation with Rock Angels, a new children’s series co-produced with Cyber Group Studios and featuring original music. The announcement was made by SB Projects COO Scott Manson at MIPCOM, the annual global entertainment conference in Cannes, France.
Braun’s top-shelf management roster includes Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen, Cody Simpson and Tori Kelly, none of whom have signed on to the animated series, but there’s a strong possibility several will, according to Manson.
“We are very hopeful they’ll want to cameo on the show,” says Manson, who is also Rock Angels' co-executive producer. “We have started to talk to them about the idea of being weaved into storylines that hopefully teach kids important lessons and values and inspire them and they all seem to be reacting very positively to it.”
The animated Rock Angels, according to the storyline, is a super group comprised of two contest-winning bands with members between the ages of 12 and 15. They are the Sky Angels (a sweet pop duo of sisters from Louisiana) and the Rock Ons (three cousins from Detroit).
In addition to potential star turns, Rock Angels also offers opportunities for multiple revenue streams. Much like recent music-based television shows Glee, Nashville and Smash, the animated series is planning to offer song downloads, videos, merchandising and other “360 degree digital explorations.”
Towards achieving that goal, SB Projects has been in ongoing discussions with Adam Anders, the Swedish hitmaker and executive music producer behind Glee who also worked on High School Musical 3, Hannah Montana and songs for Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and the Jonas Brothers. “He’s a close friend and has been advising us," says Manson. "We are hopeful that we can convince him to become a part of the team. He plays brilliantly in this space in terms of timeline and matching the music to the creative.”
When asked if the show might draw upon more classic animated music fare such as The Archies, The Jackson 5 or Josie & the Pussycats for inspiration, the 34-year-old Manson acknowledges these animated antecedents but references shows from his own generation, including Bobby’s World, Rugrats and Alvin & the Chipmunks. “I’m also a secret fan of Doug on Nickelodeon from back in the day,” says Manson while explaining how the new show is primarily targeting kids aged 6 to 12 with music and storylines that have the potential to reach a much wider demographic.
The new series represents SB Projects’ continued expansion into film and TV, which includes the successful CBS drama Scorpion, now in its second season, the new MTV series Todrick and the upcoming live action movie Jem and the Holograms (out October 23) as well as upcoming projects with skateboarder Tony Hawk, documentary filmmaker RJ Cutler and its current collaboration with Cyber Group Studios on Rock Angels.
“Cyber Studios is one of France’s top independent animation studios and has done several co-productions with Disney,” Manson explains. “Its CEO Pierre Sissmann was a top executive with Disney in Europe and previously worked for Sony Music working closely with Gloria Estefan and Sade.”
As for future TV enterprises, Manson is excited about a popular international music reality show called Sing My Song, for which SB Projects has secured the rights partnered with Zodiak USA. The fascinating concept behind the program features five to seven established artists from different genres on location for a week paying musical tributes to each other’s music catalogs, which are then recorded and released outside of the show. “It’s like a Field of Dreams for music,” says Manson, who notes the success of these tribute albums as well as the sales lift each artist’s back catalog receives.
Braun has name-checked David Geffen and his book The Operator as one of his business inspirations, but his motivation for Rock Angels may be far more personal. Manson says Braun welcoming his first child, Jagger, earlier this year had a profound impact on him. “Scooter is a very thoughtful guy in terms of how he’s going to be remembered or what Jagger is going to know him for,” he says. “The idea of children’s animation and children’s storytelling really became a focus because he wanted to tell stories to Jagger and not only be known as the manager of pop stars. So that was a big motivation of why we focused on the space and hopefully it will come to life soon so little Jagger can watch."