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Universal Music Group partners with Wondery, which produced ‘Dirty John’ podcast

Universal Music Group partners with Wondery, which produced ‘Dirty John’ podcast
Connie Britton and Eric Bana star in the "Dirty John" series on Bravo based on the true-crime podcast produced by Wondery and reported by the Los Angeles Times. (Bravo)

Universal Music Group says it is working with podcast production firm Wondery on audio stories that could later be developed into films or TV shows.

West Hollywood-based Wondery is known for developing true-crime dramas such as “Dirty John” and “Dr. Death.” Under the deal, Wondery can use licensed music from UMG’s giant music catalog in its podcasts and can develop podcasts around stories about UMG artists.

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“Working with Wondery’s network of storytellers, the podcasts will provide fans and new audiences alike with deeper perspectives on artists, music and events that influence and shape culture,” UMG said in a statement Wednesday. UMG has been working on podcasts since 2012.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The announcement comes as more companies and investors are pouring money into podcasts, an entertainment category that is becoming more popular because the audio can be played on demand and is easy to listen to during a commute.

Streaming-music company Spotify said it would spend up to $500 million this year on podcast-related acquisitions. Already, it has purchased New York companies Gimlet Media and Anchor FM. Last month, Spotify announced plans to buy Los Angeles podcasting firm Parcast.

Wondery, considered the largest independent podcast publisher, has been successful at adapting podcasts into shows. The true-crime podcast “Dirty John,” which it made in partnership with the Los Angeles Times, was turned into a TV series that aired on Bravo starring Connie Britton.

Hernan Lopez, Wondery's CEO, said there was demand for more podcasts about music, calling it “one of the last and untapped big content genres in podcasting.” He pointed to an Edison Research report that said 39 % of podcast listeners were interested in podcasts about music.

“Music is universally loved,” Lopez said in an interview with The Times. “There are few kinds of content that can transcend cultures and times as well as music can.”

UMG said the podcast projects will work with Polygram Entertainment, its TV and film production division, as well as with its record labels on short- and long-form content. It said the podcasts will be distributed where Wondery podcasts are available, including Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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