Why Billy Otto refused to join Byron Baes on Netflix

Above it all: Musician and producer Billy Otto.
Above it all: Musician and producer Billy Otto.

Fame has its price.

Or does it.

Newcastle born-and-raised musician Billy Otto, 33, has been in the headlines for nearly a week for publicly giving the flick to Netflix as one of the "rumoured" stars in its new series, Byron Baes, featuring a handful of heavyweight social media influencers in Byron Bay on NSW's North Coast.

Otto has called Byron Bay home for the last year, currently residing in Ocean Shores where he has a home music studio where he records and produces artists. He's been working closely with rising pop star Kyle Lionhart.

Otto also surfs every day.

No question, Otto is a social influencer. While he can only boast 13,000 followers on Instagram, he carries strong messages about ecology and mental health woven into his own journey of self revelation.

His name flashed into the greater public consciousness as Netflix starting promoting its original production, Byron Baes. On the heels of a press release teasing the "docu-soap" series that would following a feed of hot instagrammers living their best lives, the names of those instagrammers began popping up: Nathan Favro, from The Bachelorette, and Elias Chigros, from Love Island Australia, Elle Watson, Saskia Wotton, Hannah Brauer, Jade Kevin Foster, Simba Ali.

Otto made the list as a "rumoured" star of the show.


"With a compelling cast, spectacular settings and some truly addictive drama, Byron Baes has all the binge-worthy ingredients. Eureka is thrilled to be working with Netflix on this love letter to one of the world's most perfect playgrounds," said Chris Culvenor, co-CEO of Eureka Productions, who will be producing Byron Baes for Netflix.

From Netflix: The teasing press release.

From Netflix: The teasing press release.

From early last week, Otto flew into the media spotlight, claiming he did not want to be part of the show, citing the Byron Baes' press release that "There'll be fights, flings and heartbreak".

On Tuesday this week he told The Morning Crew on 2DAY FM," I think the world needs less click bait, and less filter, and more real. And me just speaking my truth, from a place of integrity, authenticity. I didn't want to go into a world where they make a joke out of my spirituality, or they make a joke out of my creatorship."

"I'm just not up for sale," he said., "I didn't do this thing to get this kind of media attention."

Otto told the Newcastle Herald he never signed a contract to be on the show, and had withdrawn from involvement with production staff.

He met with Netflix staff on Tuesday, he said.

"The situation changes every day," he said. "I'm still not pro the show going forward... Netflix has said they intend to make a show with humanity, with beautiful art. They've used the reality platform ... I hope they don't get too lost in the need to have a drama and gossip to have eyeballs."

At the moment, Otto is on tour. He will be performing on Saturday in Newcastle at a show involving his siblings, fellow musicians Sarah, Melissa and Jonathan, in their first show together in five years.

The whole experience has been a wake-up for him.

"It gave me an opportunity to clarify my own values," he said of the show. "I don't really align with that energy ... I do believe in local, indigenous knowledge. I really do care for the Byron community. I want to make content that matters to the world. Climate change, racism, men's mental health. I don't want to be distracted by being on a reality show.

"I want to keep my brand untarnished... empowering. I don't need this."

And deep down, he's never forgotten his NSW Hunter Valley origins, either.

"I'm a Newy boy at heart," he said. "I grew up driving Commodores and playing footy. I'm a Newcastle boy."

This story The boy who gave Netflix and Byron Baes the flick first appeared on Newcastle Herald.