Disney Music Group’s world is expanding this week with the company’s first foray into podcasting.
For Scores, an interview series featuring composers working in film, television and games with ties to the company, will debut this Friday, Aug. 23, with a kickoff at the D23 Expo gathering of Disney superfans in Anaheim.
Given Disney’s rich history of film and television scores — the film studio’s win for Ludwig Göransson‘s original score for Black Panther at both this year’s Oscars and Grammys continues a rich line of awards recognition — the topic was an obvious choice for its debut podcasting run, says Robbie Snow, svp of global marketing for Disney Music Group.
“It’s serving an area we think is underserved. People don’t always know what’s behind the curtain, if you will, of what goes into the process of scoring these soundtracks,” he says. “Oftentimes composers don’t get the limelight the big end-title artists get, so this is an opportunity to shine a light on them and give them an opportunity to talk about what inspired them. It gives them a voice to talk about the journey and their process for whatever specific movie they may be talking about, but also past movies.”
The podcast, produced by longtime Disney Music exec Maria Kleinman in conjunction with Treefort Media, will drop a quartet of interviews at a time, all hosted by journalist Jon Burlingame. The first run features Henry Jackman, who scored Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 among projects; Harry Gregson-Williams, who scored the doc Penguins and is at work on the upcoming live-action Mulan film; Pinar Toprak, who become the first woman to score a film in the Marvel cinematic universe with Captain Marvel; and Alan Silvestri, who discusses his work on all four Avengers films. The next set of podcasts is slated to debut in October, with another to follow in early 2020.
Snow says other podcast series could be in Disney Music’s future. “It’s just a matter of having it make sense and focusing on something we think is attractive to the consumer.”
Sponsorship for For Scores is on the horizon, he notes, but it initially will launch without external ad dollars. “Down the road map, with popularity, we’ll look for the opportunity to have sponsors. For now we’re just keeping it self-promoting the other ways you can enjoy the music from these composers,” he says.
Those who tune in will get info on Disney’s direct-to-consumer offerings including online store Disney Music Emporium, the Disney Hits playlist and the new For Scores playlist, which also premieres Friday and will be populated with music from featured composers.
In an interesting play for the consummate marketing powerhouse, For Scores isn’t being overtly branded as a Disney product.
“We intentionally are not blatantly branding it Disney because we have the intention to do podcasts from composers from both TV and film across Disney and Fox. It could be FX, it could be Freeform, it could be ABC. Disney+ is coming soon,” Snow says. “We certainly are going to try to cover all the bases.”
But don’t expect any slack in the marketing muscle. “We’ll have some hand-to-hand-combat type of tactics with marketing materials at the convention itself, and we’re going to be doing a lot more of that kind of out of home-type of marketing at places people who might be interested in this podcast might live,” Snow says. Performing arts centers, college campuses and coffee houses are all on the short list for external outreach, as is a slew of digital advertising.
Distribution-wise, aside from being available across all major providers and smart speakers, the Disney home team also has an arsenal lined up to support the podcast. The Disney Music YouTube channel has an audience of nearly 1 million fans “who will be able to access it right from the jump,” Snow says. The podcast also will be available on a shelf in the recently launched Disney Hub on Spotify and linked across Disney social platforms, which count close to 8 million connections.
“We’re going to push directly to people we think will be interested,” Snow says. “We want to be successful, but we also want to be a little bit organic in how we go about this.”