BBC Worldwide Feels the Music

Salim Mukaddam, the director of music content at BBC Worldwide, talks about the scope of music programming in the company’s library.

From documentaries to concerts, from Beyoncé to the Backstreet Boys, BBC Worldwide’s music catalogue runs the gamut. The company represents content from global superstars, including Dave Grohl, Coldplay and Robbie Williams, as well as major labels such as Universal Music and Sony Music. BBC Worldwide also represents events like the Glastonbury Festival, the BRIT Awards and last month’s Global Citizen Festival. And there’s still space in the library for programs like Later…with Jools Holland and the concert series BBC Proms.

“It’s the breadth and quality of the content in our catalogue that stands out from our competitors,” Salim Mukaddam, the director of music content at BBC Worldwide, tells TV Real Weekly. “We only work with the artists, producers and management that want to deliver the highest quality films to their audience.”

Mukaddam reports that well-made feature documentaries sell best, adding, “People love stories and music, and musicians tend to be able to deliver ***Image***fascinating stories.” In the factual category, one such title is They Will Have to Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile, which Mukaddam calls a “brilliant documentary.” It focuses on the political situation in Mali, where the regime banned music, and explores the country’s musical heritage and how musicians eventually returned to the northern part of the nation. Similarly, the film One Humanity chronicles the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa through the lens of the Nelson Mandela 70th-birthday concert and features highlights from the event showcasing global superstars like Stevie Wonder and the late Whitney Houston.

BBC Worldwide’s festival coverage encompasses the Global Citizen Festival, curated by Coldplay front man Chris Martin. BBC Worldwide represents a one-hour special based on the festival, which was held in Central Park in New York City on September 26. Mukaddam calls this “an incredible title” featuring performances from artists such as Beyoncé, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran and Pearl Jam. The special also showcases films about the planet and the United Nations’ Global Goals, a 15-year plan to end extreme poverty and fight climate change. NRK and BBC were among the first broadcasters confirmed to have acquired the special, which aired on BBC One and BBC Three in the U.K., NRK 1 in Norway and NBC in the U.S.

Other titles in the queue include the Backstreet Boys documentary film Show ’Em What You’re Made Of, which Mukaddam says has been “unbelievably successful for us this year because it’s full of great stories told by great filmmakers.” There’s also Seth MacFarlane singing Frank Sinatra songs, a new documentary about electronic dance music star Avicii, and more. According to Mukaddam, “There is definitely something for every taste and every broadcaster.”

Mukaddam has found that when it comes to selling content, “it’s about quality,” adding that “if it makes for compelling viewing, broadcasters will have faith in it.”

“Just take Later…with Jools Holland as an example,” he says. “Every week is a totally eclectic lineup. Internationally known superstars mingle with artists right at the beginning of their careers. But the thing that combines them all is their talent and the quality of their musicianship. It’s what has kept Later on air for so many years and it’s why it keeps selling across the globe.”

Yet, Mukaddam acknowledges “it will always be harder to sell a single artist performance from an up-and-coming artist compared to a household name.”

As far as acquisitions go, Mukaddam explains: “Ideally, we are looking for titles that have potential across a lot of formats. We’re increasing our activity in cinema and VOD. There is still a DVD market for the right titles. We are looking for films that would work across all of those platforms as well as television.”

“Beyond anything else, it’s primarily about quality,” Mukaddam says. “For BBC Worldwide to be involved, it has to be a brilliantly made film that we want to watch again and again.”