In part two of our deep dive into esports and music (check out part one here), several more professionals from both industries give us their insight into what the future holds for these types of partnerships…
Fabio Enzo – Co-founder of 777 MUSIC
Fabio Enzo is the co-founder of 777 MUSIC, a Norway-based record label that started out as a YouTube channel sharing relatively undiscovered music and saw huge growth as a result of a viral music video Enzo shot for his friend Boy Pablo. Earlier this year they became the first record label to launch an esports division.
The decision to move into the esports space with our label honestly came from the shared disappointment I felt about the fact that a lot of my close friends who make and enjoy all kinds of music were also spending hours playing competitive games and were really stoked about the esports scene, but never really seemed to feel like they fit into that.
The esports culture seems so coined by the electronic music that currently dominates the scene and the style that comes with it. I’m not saying that that music and style doesn’t fit or isn’t dope in itself, I’m just saying there should be room for more. All kinds of people enjoy esports and music is a huge part of gaming culture already. Esports is passionately exciting for everyone, why not help expand the actual audience?
Going forward, I think we’ll be seeing a lot of other labels, especially majors, jump into this. The big labels who already have great sync connections with the game studios will keep getting more involved both in the esports tournament live format, game syncs and in artist promo. You already see things like the UMG and ESL collaborative esports label. My hope is that these great initiatives with a lot of funding don’t limit themselves to what already works, but tries out new stuff as well. I think esports has a much more exciting future if these early entrepreneurs consider the huge potential for more diversity and access to an even bigger audience in the esports world going forward.
Toby Andrews – General Manager, Astralwerks
Toby Andrews is the General Manager of LA-based dance/electronic label Astralwerks, part of Capitol Music Group. In 2018 they partnered with Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins to release Ninjawerks Vol. 1, a 13-track compilation album curated by the Twitch superstar.
One of the most common things we see in terms of fanbase behavior is that esports fans have a big affinity towards electronic music artists and records, so the natural crossover between what we do in our musical space, and what goes on in the world of gaming feels fully organic. There’s a long standing history of crossover between gaming and dance music and I think activations like our project Ninjawerks with Ninja is a perfect example of people working together to make the gaming experience more compelling through music, and bringing records to life that are made to be enjoyed as a part of the gaming experience.
I think we’ll see the merging of music and esports continue to evolve with tighter collaborations between platforms and developers and musicians, especially with the rise of on-demand or streamed gaming. This will also open up new chapters in the use of the songs within games, replay footage and also as a soundtrack to live streamed gaming.
Steve Maida – Founder and President of Luminosity Gaming
Steve Maida is the Founder and President of Luminosity Gaming, an esports organization based in Toronto, Canada. Last July Luminosity announced an exclusive partnership with Universal Music Canada, the first collaboration of its kind for a record label and esports organization.
The goal for our partnership with Universal was to explore and trial different ways for music to integrate into the daily activities within the organization, such as YouTube videos, live streams, gaming themed playlists and other content. There is a natural crossover between music and gaming.
Right now there is a constant struggle for content creators to find quality, copyright free music to use in their content. We hope this dilemma will be solved in the future through continued collaboration between content creators and key music industry players. We’re also noticing notable artists, especially in hip-hop, investing in esports teams. Tory Lanez has invested in Luminosity, for example. I believe you will continue to see more collaborations between artists, music companies and gaming in the future. Both industries can learn from one another.
Gustav Käll, Head of Esports at Universal Music Group & Label Head of Enter Records
Gustav Käll is Global Head of Esports at Universal Music Group and leads the world’s largest music company in the efforts to forge and create partnerships with one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
I’ve been in esports for such a long time now so for me it’s my world, but over time more and more industries are catching on to what esports can do for them. First you saw traditional advertisers like McDonald’s discovering the space because it has this enormous reach, and now you see partnerships happening all over the place. I like to think that we pioneered the merger of esports and music and that’s exciting because I know how important music was for me when I was playing. I think we’re just getting started and scratching the surface as to what this can become.
The esports broadcast format has evolved so much and now when you watch a tournament there are games being played up to 12 hours a day. That’s a lot of live content and you need to fill it up with something, right? Currently there are still pause screens and still moments in the broadcast where there’s just an image and it’s not produced to the level you would expect. With a linear TV channel, for example, the budget for productions are way higher so you see something happening all the time, and now that more money is coming into esports the production for these events and broadcasts are increasing. I want to see more music being used because it’s a way to entertain the audience. We know that gamers are the heaviest consumers of music in the world – they stream music for up to 10 or 12 hours a day. We know they like music so why don’t we put it in the broadcast of the games. [This is an excerpt of our full interview with Gustav Käll which you can check out here.]