As COVID-19 continues to rock the live event industry, children’s music and dance brand KIDZ BOP has had to shift its business with new online offerings to avoid losing the beat and getting tripped up by the pandemic.
“We knew we had to put a hold on tours to be safe,” says president Sasha Junk. “But we also have a robust pipeline of hundreds of videos we produce each year, with live-action film shoots happening multiple times a month all over the world. The pandemic stalled all of that.”
Once it became clear in early March that COVID-19 would lead to lockdowns, KIDZ BOP hit pause on its live tours that were originally set for this summer, and looked at how it could grow digitally instead, says Junk.
Countless concerts and events have cancelled or rescheduled due to COVID-19. And while the future of these events remains uncertain, revenue for the industry could be down by as much as US$9 billion this year, according to live event research firm Pollstar. Across the industry, a six-month shutdown of the live event industry could end up costing the market more than US$10 billion in sponsorship, with that loss expected to deepen until concerts start back up, according to the World Economic Forum.
To counter the live event gap, and to make sure production wasn’t halted, KIDZ BOP ordered sterilized remote-filming kits from New York-based prodco Hayden5. The kits typically include a professional-grade camera, lighting equipment and a laptop. These kits were delivered to the homes of the music videos’ casts, setting the brand up to continue filming its popular music videos remotely.
KIDZ BOP has been able to benefit from a growth in kid-friendly music consumption, which jumped to the tune of 12% week over week in March, while video streams climbed 22% in the same time frame, according to USA Today
“We’ve seen a big increase in views and streaming,” Junk says. “On YouTube, our views were up 32% in the first few weeks of the pandemic, and children’s music streaming in general was also up.”
The brand also launched content in the UK last month, teaming with broadcaster Sky to roll out three sing-and-dance workshops exclusively to Sky’s VIP customers. The music producer also released its new album Kidz Bop Party Playlist! via Universal Music on Demand, which is available for purchase online and from retailers worldwide. And last week, it partnered with music streaming service Pandora to release new songs and commentary from the musical kids about their experiences while in the group.
Making an effort to reach families stuck at home, the brand started producing daily dance break videos and live streams on its YouTube channel (1.98 million subscribers) to more regularly engage kids. KIDZ BOP’s new content got an unexpected recognition bump when some teachers began using the videos as part of virtual physical education classes, Junk says. Leaning into this, KIDZ BOP began producing tip sheets and playlists to give teachers more resources and opportunities to engage with the content. To package this increased output, KIDZ BOP also launched its own OTT platform on Roku to serve the stuck-at-home audience and reach more families, adds Junk.
Other companies outside of the music industry have also noticed an increase in kids’ demand for music, and have reached out to KIDZ BOP for partnership opportunities, Junk says. For example, the company worked with Obé Fitness to create movement and dance videos for kids and families in March.
Looking forward, Junk wants to see KIDZ BOP grow internationally, especially in LatAm, where she says there’s a rising demand for kids music.
“Live and experiential is off the table for 2020 and into 2021, so we need to find new ways to partner with other brands,” says Junk.