LONDON, July 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- UK-based CountryLine, the global fan club app for country music, backed by Sir Elton John, today announced a strategic partnership with Starlings Entertainment, the LA-based production company behind Sir Elton's Oscar-winning bio-pic, Rocketman.
Alongside a significant cash investment into CountryLine, Starlings has also agreed a first look deal to develop film and TV projects that leverage country talent and IP from song to screen.
CountryLine also announces the appointment to its board of Martha Brass, former CEO International at Endemol Shine Group, and the recruitment of its first Head of Operations Liesl Chappell, former Head of Content Development & Production at WildBrain.
Country music is the fastest growing genre in many international markets, including the UK where CountryLine super-serves an under-served audience of fans with a 'one stop shop' for all things country. CountryLine curates the best in video and audio, in partnership with the artists themselves. Available on web, iOS, and Android, CountryLine features exclusive interviews, sessions, playlists, podcasts, competitions, news and gigs, plus the best country boxsets and movies.
In March 2020, CountryLine acquired the UK's country radio station, Chris Country, bringing together the leading fan club app with the leading radio station. CountryLine is now the go-to brand both for UK country fans and for US country artists looking to grow their UK audience. CountryLine has ambitious plans to roll out around the world over the next 24 months in response to demand from artists, labels, managers, and promoters for an international digital partner, particularly for the post COVID-19 environment of hybrid live & digital experiences.
The success of Dolly Parton's Heartstrings for Netflix highlighted the potential of song to screen projects and Starlings and CountryLine will together develop a slate of projects that extend Nashville music talent into the film and TV world.
CountryLine Co-Founder and CEO, Simon Walker, comments: ''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."
Karine Martin, Starlings CEO comments: "Starlings develops world class film and television content, and we partner with the most exciting talent to make that happen. The CountryLine team have a unique vision for a genre of programming that we think will be hugely successful."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
CountryLine is the latest venture from Maidthorn Partners, a specialist mediatech incubator for global passion niches.
Founded by Simon Walker in 2008, Maidthorn builds digital-first brands in content-led niches. Examples of Maidthorn teams 'super-serving the under-served' include Love Home Swap, the world's leading home exchange platform (acquired by Wyndham in 2017 for $53m) and Marquee TV, described by the FT as 'Netflix for the arts'.
To launch CountryLine, Simon teamed up with co-founder and self-proclaimed country geek, Nathalie Cox. Together they attracted backing from investors including Sir Elton John, former EMI Chairman, Eric Nicoli, and former Endemol Shine International CEO, Martha Brass.
- CountryLine is the world's first (and only) fan club app for country
- The business is on track to be the global brand for country music, a $10bn market
- A 'freemium' membership club, CountryLine is the 'one stop shop' for all things country - curating the best in video and audio, in partnership with the artists themselves
- CountryLine features exclusive interviews, sessions, playlists, podcasts, competitions, news and gigs, plus the best country boxsets and movies
- As the brand scales, CountryLine will roll out to other international markets, riding the twin waves of global growth in country music and media streaming
Simon Walker is an accomplished innovator with over twenty-five years' experience in the digital and creative industries. As leader of the global strategy & business development functions at the BBC, EMI Music and EMAP plc, Simon was at the heart of the media and entertainment business's transformation to digital in the 90s and 00s. At the BBC he was the first head of on demand media, leading the team that developed iPlayer. At EMI Music he championed a consumer-centric approach to music, pioneering the embrace of subscription services. At EMAP, he oversaw the strategy for the successful sale of its rich portfolio of mainstream and niche brands to Bauer Media in 2008.