CountryLine, a UK-based country music fan app backed by Elton John, has closed a major partnership with LA production company Starlings Entertainment.
CountryLine unveiled the far-reaching agreement via a formal release this morning. Starlings Entertainment – which has contributed to noteworthy projects including Elton John biopic Rocketman, Johnny Depp’s The Professor, and Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway’s Serenity – will provide CountryLine with a “significant cash investment” under the deal.
Additionally, the brands have established a first-look production arrangement “to develop film and TV projects that leverage country talent and IP from song to screen.” Noting the success of Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings Netflix series, the release indicated that CountryLine and Starlings will pursue “projects that extend Nashville music talent into the film and TV world.”
As part of the release, CountryLine – a venture spearheaded by London-headquartered “mediatech incubator” Maidthorn Partners – announced that former Endemol Shine Group CEO International Martha Brass has joined its board. The company has also tapped WildBrain veteran Liesl Chappell to serve as its first head of operations, ahead of a larger plan “to roll out around the world over the next 24 months” in response to international demand from the country community.
Addressing his company’s Starlings partnership in a statement, CountryLine cofounder and CEO Simon Walker said: “Country music has the best fans in the world – they are passionate about the music of course, but they also love the whole Nashville lifestyle. We created CountryLine to help fans live their best country lives, and we’re thrilled to team up with Starlings to bring more of that to screen.”
The passion of country music fans has been on full display this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple country artists have made headlines for their recent sets – some of which were socially distanced, others of which were not. Moreover, Garth Brooks’ one-night-only drive-in concert was successful enough to prompt Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins to rally behind the format (with their show scheduled to take place this Saturday, July 25th).
On the streaming side, we reported earlier this month that country was one of just two genres (the other being children’s music, for obvious reasons) to gain weekly listeners during the coronavirus pandemic and its lockdown period. Comparing 2019’s first six months with the opening half of 2020 (through July 2nd, specifically), country streams hiked more than 21 percent – once again the most of any genre except children’s music.