Preschool Pop Stars

The children’s audio sector has been expanding as parents look for engaging alternatives for their kids that do not involve a screen, and as more and more audio-centric projects have proven popular with young listeners. In addition to podcasts and dedicated audio devices and content, children’s music albums have also been on the rise, especially those tied to preschool TV shows. Such efforts have long been a component of licensing programs for preschool properties but are certainly on the upswing of late.

A handful of recent initiatives:

  • Wildbrain’s Teletubbies star in a reunion album called Ready, Steady, GO!, released in October and available on digital music streaming platforms globally. This is the first full-length album from the characters in 20 years; Teletubbies: The Album was released in 1998 and appeared on the bestseller charts at the time. The new album is accompanied by 10 digital-first music videos, and the music releases are part of a broader content and product initiative leading up to the property’s 25th anniversary next year.
  • eOne Music, a division of Hasbro-owned Peppa Pig licensor eOne, launched Peppa’s Adventures: The Album in late July. It is available across global streaming channels as well as in the form of a physical CD, and was preceded by a number of singles from the album, including “Bing Bong Champion” and “Peppa’s Adventures.” Peppa’s first full-length record, logically called My First Album, was released in 2019 and had accrued more than 136 million streams around the world by July 2021.
  • Coolabi Group announced a new Clangers album last month on the Ocean Music label. The full-length album was one of several recent audio releases tied to the property, including a deal with audio device marketer Tonies, a new version of the property’s Alexa skill, and a partnership with music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins. The Clangers: The Album is available at online and retail music shops in the U.K.
  • BBC Studios and Demon Music Group debuted Bluey: The Album in the U.S. in January, along with singles including “Keepy Uppy” and “Here Come the Grannies.” The 17-track album was introduced on streaming platforms in the U.S. and the property’s home market of Australia first, followed by releases in other territories.
  • eOne announced a PJ Masks album, PJ Power Up, in April, preceded by several singles, each of which comprise part of a full story told across the entirety of the album. Produced with Pure West, the new album is the fourth based on this property. The first three, Heroes Forever, Here We Come, and Time to Be a Hero! collectively had attracted more than 200 million streams by the time the latest release was announced.

Of course there have been other examples over time. Mattel’s Thomas & Friends has been associated with regular album releases over its lifetime, including the most recent, All Engines Go!—tied to the latest iteration of the TV show—this year. Other licensors that have partnered for children’s music albums recently extend beyond the preschool TV space, with American Girl and Fisher Price among the many kids’ properties announcing releases in the past year or so. They join IP ranging from Hello Kitty to My Little Pony and beyond that have been connected to music albums at one time or another.

It should be noted that while these albums represent a form of screenless audio entertainment, most are accompanied by music videos of some or all of the singles on the album, or by new video-based music productions that complement the album’s content.

In addition to being a way to engage young fans further in the property, such albums also help create awareness among fans, potential fans, and the public at large. Some IP owners have used their album releases to create social media buzz, for example. Peppa trolled Kanye West on social media when his album Donda generated a lower rating in the music publication Pitchfork than Peppa’s new release did, and called into a radio show during an interview with Adele to ask why the superstar wouldn’t collaborate with her. Both efforts got some play in mainstream media, as did the Teletubbies’ social media effort to enlist Lil Nas X to guest on their album, which received a light-hearted response from the musician.

A reminder that Raugust Communications’ monthly newsletter comes out tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16, 2021. The Licensing Topic of the Month focuses on the proliferation of partnerships bringing different retail brands together, while the Datapoint research spotlight examines the importance of licensing in the sunglasses and spectacles market. Have you subscribed to this free publication yet? If not, you can sign up here.

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