Strategic Partnerships Advance Music and Gaming Synergy

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
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Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

A newly inked strategic partnership between Sony Music Entertainment and Roblox is another indication of a maturing relationship amongst the music, gaming, and esports industries, a synergy that has evolved for years and in particular, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The major record label and game creation platform have enjoyed the mutual success of their recent collaborations and are now gearing up to allocate more resources to developing “innovative music experiences for the Roblox community that offer a range of new commercial opportunities for Sony Music artists to reach new audiences and generate new revenue streams around virtual entertainment.”

Strategic partnerships between leaders of tangential media industries are often multi-faceted and entail a host of integration, development, exclusivity, and marketing related obligations designed to generate new, mutually beneficial market opportunities and revenue. Various legal issues arising from intellectual property, publicity, and privacy regulations can become abundant and complex, especially when emerging technologies are used to display, reproduce, distribute, and/or publicly perform media and entertainment content in various formats around the world. Structuring an agreement clearly setting forth the details of such a partnership is essential to ensure the parties are aligned with respect to their respective rights and obligations.

The formal partnership will build on the proof of concept demonstrated by over 36 million viewers tuning into watch the Columbia Records-signed Lil Nas X perform the first virtual concert built and performed exclusively on Roblox. That activation offered fans opportunities to purchase virtual merchandise, unlock exclusive emotes by playing artist themed mini-games, and access to exclusive interviews with Lil Nas X.

Zara Larsson, signed to Epic Records, promoted an album release through a launch party and performance on Roblox attracting a record breaking 4 million visits. The experience featured a virtual concert venue based on Larsson’s Swedish lake house where fans participated in interactive challenges and exclusive opportunities to purchase or win virtual merchandise. In addition, Larsson collaborated with a popular gaming influencer to produce a Roblox gameplay and interview video which has quickly amassed over 2.5 million views.

The closure of live entertainment venues for more than a year has served as a catalyst for experimentation with virtual audience engagement strategies, and we expect the convergence of the music and gaming industries to continue long after venues reopen. Combining the massive reach of Sony Music’s artists with the platform Roblox offers its 43 million daily active users will embolden this trend and hopefully lead to new revenue opportunities and technological innovation in the virtual entertainment space.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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