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Audio Up, Z2 Partner for ‘Neon Empire’ Graphic Novel and Podcast Based on Fictional Country Star
William Earl Podcast network Audio Up and graphic novel publisher and merchandiser Z2 are partnering to produce the fictional “Neon Empire.” Described as “one part ‘8 Mile’ with a dash of ‘Once Upon a Time in America,’ the story is a dark send-up of Nashville’s music business featuring original music from top country artists. Based on a central character called Kountry Boi, the “hick-hop” star goes from rags to rap riches while coming to terms with his own troubled past. The idea was developed by Audio Up founder Jared Gutstadt, who played an early instrumental role in the development of real-life genre-hopper Jelly Roll. “Country music is changing, and the new outlaws are defining this town,” said Gutstadt, who is in the process of building a Nashville outpost for his company. “Until now, it was unheard of to have country acts with tattoos on their face who refused to conform to the strict guidelines and cookie-cutter approach of Music Row. This new world has yet to be explored in fiction, and Neon Empire is an expose of this creative, hyperkinetic, and often violent world. This is fiction rooted in a reality that I’ve been dying to reveal. Z2 is the perfect conduit and partner to bring this to life.”