Midem‘s inaugural Music and Esports track, scheduled for June 6 and produced by Midem’s sister organisation Esports BAR, is the only place where people can learn how and why these two sectors are coming together to play a key role in the future of entertainment.
Executives from the worlds of music and esports, along with artists, will share what they are gaining from collaboration and how that collaboration will influence pop culture in the future.
“Music is becoming important to the growth of esports, so this event at Midem is the only one designed to create conversation with the esports professionals,” Stephane Gambetta, Esports BAR’s development director, said.
A digital-first entertainment format
For the uninitiated in the music industry, next-generation esports is arguably one of the truly digital-first entertainment formats catching the attention of mainstream media and brands.
There is a generation that loves to watch gamers perform online, on TV and in venues. Millennials and Gen Z digital natives form a core part of fan base for esports, which involves esports teams competing against each other on streaming platforms, broadcast TV and live venues.
A billion-dollar business
Today, millions watch gamers combat each other on live-streaming platforms like Twitch, a subsidiary of tech giant Amazon.com. And gamers and esports players who use streaming platforms to host their own esports tournaments online, have become superstars with millions of followers.
Fans interact with them in real time by commenting at a feverish pace inside the screen’s chat area. Some use micro-transaction functions to make donations, from which gamers hosting online competitions can make millions of dollars.
Research firm Newzoo predicts esports will reach 450 million-plus viewers and top $1bn in revenues in 2019. And while that’s a small sum compared with the $19.1bn global music industry, esports attracts the kind of fan worship that only the music industry understands.
Additionally, this new phenomenon is being professionalised through investment in esports by the various gaming, media and marketing parties that Esports BAR brings together.
And now, Midem and Esports BAR together aim to introduce this young but fast-growing entertainment ecosystem to music creators, record labels, distributors and rights owners.
“Music and esports are very similar in terms of fan experience,” Gambetta says. “The live esports tournaments are high-powered audio-visual experiences, similar to music festivals. The esports industry is also creating new audio-visual content around music. So it is natural for the two sectors to work together.”
“Midem is a great forum for businesses in recording and publishing rights to exchange information and learn more about the role of music in esports,” CEO of digital-music distribution company FUGA, Pieter van Rijn said.
In search of a wider audience
Games publisher Riot Games, which organises high-profile tournaments based on its League of Legends (LoL) title and produces its own music in-house, has asked FUGA to distribute its tracks to a wider audience.
The opening ceremony of Riot Games’ LoL championship event in South Korea last year included live music K-pop band K/DA, accompanied by Augmented Reality-animated versions of LoL characters, singing the Riot Games-produced track POP/STARS.
To introduce that recording to mainstream music fans as well, Riot Games needs the expertise of a distribution specialist like FUGA.
Music and Esports: major labels get in on the act
Universal Music Group (UMG) has formed ENTER Records, a joint-venture label with esports organisation ESL. German electronic music DJ/producer TheFatRat, who expanded his fan base by making his music available for esports entertainment, is already signed to ENTER Records.
“We’ve learned that the average gamer can spend up to 10 hours listening to music,” president, marketing labs at Universal Music Germany Dirk Baur said during a recent Esports BAR event in Cannes. “TheFatRat is a good example of how we use his music during events; it adds value to what we are doing.”
Hitmakers Jennifer Lopez, Drake, DJ Steve Aoki and artist manager and entrepreneur Scooter Braun have all invested in esports. When Twitch live-streamed Drake – a gamer himself – playing against esports superstar Tyler Ninja Blevin last year, it broke several viewing records.
Esports fans “are among the most digitally connected and cannot be reached by other means”, Gambetta said, adding: “Esports is a marketing platform that can introduce music acts to its highly engaged viewers. We are glad we can bring the two sectors together.”
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