Cookie Jar Secures Universal Music Canada Record Deal

6:02 AM PST 04/14/2011 by Etan Vlessing

Canadian animation giant pacts with Universal Music Canada on music and video deal for 'Mudpit,' its first live action series.

TORONTO – Cookie Jar Entertainment has landed a record deal from Universal Music Canada for its Mudpit TV series.

Now the challenge is leveraging the music label’s skill in showcasing rock stars to marketing a live action/CGI animation series about high school friends-turned-rock stars.

Mudpit music supervisor Mark Di Pietro has the solution. Di Pietro recalls 1969, when rock titans like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and The Rolling Stones dominated the music charts, but the number one single that year was The Archies' “Sugar, Sugar,” from an animated TV series based on the Archies comic books. “They had great songs,” he said of the Saturday morning cartoon series. “Those songs still stand up to this day.”

The first step was producing two Mudpit spin-off albums, featuring 26 songs, one from each series episode, that can stand up in the market. The songs were penned and developed by industry veterans like songwriter Andrea Wasse (Instant Star), Patrick Pentland (Role Play!) and Greig Nori, music producer, performer and songwriter with Canadian rockers Treble Charger and Sum 41. And Sum 41 lead vocalist Deryck Whibley co-wrote the Mudpit title song.

The next step was producing songs that connect with a young audience as if they are part of real-life albums and singles from a fantasy rock band. “We didn’t write the music to be kids music. We put it together as if we were making music for a band. The albums will have a very concise sound -- this is the Mudpit band and sound,” Di Pietro explained.

The Universal Music Canada albums will be seamless with the TV series by making each song reflect the episode challenge faced by the fictional band and its characters as they climb their way to cyber-celebritydom. “Every episode has a theme. There’s the metal band challenge, and the retro 1980s challenge and the hip hop challenge,” Di Pietro explains. “So this is the Mudpit band as if they were meeting a challenge, as if these kids were in these types of bands, and what would be the music they would make,” he added.

The music spin-off deal with Universal Music Canada needs to click for Cookie Jar. This is the Canadian studio’s most expensive TV series to date, so it needs to monetize on as many platforms as possible. The TV series, which is set to bow on Teletoon Canada later this year, has already spun-off an online video game from NDi Media and Cookie Jar.

There’s also a concert tour by the real world Mudpit band members in the works, much as the characters of The Doodlebops, also from Cookie Jar, took to the concert stage on tour straight from their TV show. The Mudpit live action/avatar cast members are Jesse Rath, playing the role of Liam/Lamb, Carleigh Beverly in the role of Geneva/G, Vas Saranga as Reese/Dodge, and Daniel Magder as Mikey/Booch.

Whether young audiences will ultimately connect with the Mudpit cast, the TV drama or its album songs ahead of purchasing the Universal Music Canada albums is anyone’s guess, insists Di Pietro. “What part of it, or all three elements: If I had that answer, I’d live in a castle,” he said.

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