Head of Kids Audio Content Verdell Walker Explains Spotify’s Partnership With CoComelon—and Introduces Four Exciting New Shows for Families
Image credit: Moonbug Entertainment
You’ve definitely heard of CoComelon if you have a toddler. (It’s the number one kids channel on YouTube, for those without kiddos.) CoComelon videos are filled with catchy songs and energetic, colorful stories featuring a kid named J.J. and his friends on various adventures—from show-and-tell to bedtime and beyond. Now, the brand is venturing into the audio medium as CoComelon comes together with Spotify in an exclusive multiyear agreement.
Spotify will partner with CoComelon producer Moonbug Entertainment for a new podcast, CoComelon Story Time, as well as a mix of other original and exclusive “homegrown” shows. Bringing Moonbug Entertainment’s shows to Spotify provides an unparalleled opportunity for families to experience their favorite characters in a brand-new way.
Since the launch of our stand-alone Spotify Kids app, Spotify has offered compelling and age-appropriate audio content for parents and their children. Through this new partnership, we’re releasing unique podcast content specifically created for families to enjoy together. An array of exciting stories will debut to parents within the Family and Kids Hub on the main Spotify app, as well as on the Spotify Kids app, exclusive to Spotify Premium Family subscribers.
As Head of Kids Audio Content at Spotify, Verdell Walker is responsible for establishing and managing the audio content that serves families. “We have a mission of being the number one audio platform in the world, and a big part of that is making sure that we have something for everyone,” she explained to For the Record. “No matter how old or young you are.”
Read on for more from our conversation.
Why is it so important for Spotify to create content that appeals to families?
There’s so much empty space in the world of spoken word audio for families. There’s a lot of kids music, yes, and audiobook versions of kids books, but there’s a dearth of high-quality audio content out there for parents to enjoy with their children.
With homegrown shows for families, we have an opportunity to create a gold standard for audio that parents will turn to when it comes to playing podcasts with their children. We know that parents are often looking for ways to reduce screen time, so we want to elevate audio to a place where parents will think of it as an option alongside other forms of entertaining and educational media.
There is so much flexibility in this audio experience in terms of stories, characters, formats, narrative structures—and we can really push the envelope when it comes to what spoken word audio can mean. It’s a happy medium between entertainment and education, and it’s a way to engage together.
How will working with CoComelon and Moonbug Entertainment help Spotify grow these content offerings?
CoComelon is one of the most recognizable IPs on earth. This partnership with Moonbug allows us to leverage really beloved stories that delight families, and it also signals to the broader world, to parents, to creators, that we are serious in this space. We are working with recognizable brands and making a splash with names that parents recognize and trust. This partnership and these stories are a new way for new and existing CoComelon fans to interact with this brand in a creative way.
Tell us a bit about the upcoming homegrown shows.
CoComelon Story Time, which is launching on January 24, includes 42 beloved storybook classics with a CoComelon twist. The stories teach positive life lessons and provide families with playful and educational content that they can enjoy together. It’s going to be available in four languages, including U.S. and U.K. English, Spanish, German, and Brazilian Portuguese.
Gardenkeeper Gus, probably my favorite show in the slate, is launching on January 31. It’s designed for families with younger children, and it’s a quiet and contemplative preschool podcast that follows six-year-old Gus and his squirrel best friend, Rel, as they explore and understand the endless and larger-than-life garden behind his family home.
100 Cinderellas, launching on February 14 and designed for families with younger children, is an anthology series of Cinderella stories from around the world and is suitable for bedtime. If you have children or know someone who has children, you know bedtime is a particular source of pain and frustration! We’re releasing this story in two different formats—one that is 30-minutes all the way through, and the other is in shorter parts so you can listen to it over a number of nights and choose which is best for your bedtime.
Deep Blue Sea, launching on February 28, is a fun underwater adventure with two characters named Marina and Reef. Listeners will visit an underwater, oceanic laboratory, Sea Lab Alpha, with an impeccable view of sea life and get to learn about sharks, whales, and more. I’m excited for listeners to learn how to protect the ocean and be good stewards of the ocean.
What are some of your favorite stories from when you were a child?
I loved the Redwall series. Catherine, Called Birdy. I was also into Masters of the Universe, particularly She-Ra. When I was a kid, I would run around the house with a toy sword announcing, “I have the power of the universe; I am She-Ra!” It was so empowering to me. I have watched every episode of the revival and it is incredible. When I got older I loved Totally Spies, Kim Possible . . . you can sense a trend—I love stories with powerful women.
Can’t wait for new CoComelon spoken word audio content to come to Spotify? Catch the trailer below.
And in the meantime, get your fill with CoComelon songs, all in one place.