Sony Music's Dorothy Hui on how the attention economy will bring music and gaming closer together

Sony Music's Dorothy Hui on how the attention economy will bring music and gaming closer together

Gaming has been big news for the music industry in 2020. 

In the latest issue of Music Week, we look at the huge opportunities for artists in the gaming world. Last week the next generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X both went on sale around the world.

Artists including Travis Scott, BTS and J Balvin have performed within the multi-player online game Fortnite. Scott’s record-breaking performance, with more than 12m concurrent players witnessing the US rapper’s virtual performance, followed last year’s Fortnite performance by Marshmello

Gaming was a key topic for discussion during the WMG earnings call, so it’s clearly high on the agenda for the majors.

Here, Dorothy Hui, SVP, digital and audience development at Sony Music UK’s 4th Floor Creative, shares her insights on how the digital-focused music and gaming sectors can collaborate even more closely…

Your role has recently been expanded to include gaming and esports – why is that now more important for Sony Music and 4th Floor Creative? 

“We work with Sony Music UK labels to look at artist marketing in context of the attention economy. Our ultimate goal is to help align our artists’ to the different moments in people’s lives, whether it’s by soundtracking daily routines or facilitating ways for fans to engage with artists during activities like gaming. We know there’s a reported 31 hours in a day, due to multi-tasking. About an hour-and-a-half a day is spent gaming, in addition to the time audiences spend consuming gaming related content on social and video platforms.

“Many of our artists are avid gamers themselves – Headie One, Au/Ra, Bring Me The Horizon, MK, Nothing But Thieves, Sigala, Unknwn to name just a few. Esports players and teams are developing their own followings and fanbases, similar to artists. And there is major overlap between artists and gaming and esports audiences. Gaming is already woven through the Sony DNA, with Playstation among our corporate family.” 

What are the key opportunities for music and gaming?

“Having PlayStation as part of the Sony family is a big advantage for us and we are focused on unlocking synergies across companies and as a resource that helps us understand the overall gaming landscape better than any other label. Our team sees the future of music dovetailing nicely with gaming, as both audiences are rapidly moving towards a digital-first – and really online-first – future. 

“Gamers and gaming are everywhere. We’re approaching gaming and esports as an ecosystem, rather than any single platform, a vertical to be integrated cross-functionally, across our day-to-day artist marketing. The most immediate opportunities we see as revolving around content creation around digital platforms.”

Having PlayStation as part of the Sony family is a big advantage for us and we are focused on unlocking synergies across companies

Dorothy Hui

How can artists benefit in terms of sales, streams and global impact?

“Artists can benefit through scale and reach, engaging new audiences while their attention is on gaming. Epic Records’ Travis Scott staged a spectacular performance in Fortnite earlier this year, which drew 12.3 million live views. It’s important to join gamers where they are, and build moments authentically within the community. If you’re not in the space, you’ll miss out while fans and potential new listeners are engaged with gaming.

“It’s more exciting and more demanding to be an artist now than ever before. First and foremost it’s about the music; however, it’s helpful to work with artists who are passionate about gaming and can speak authentically in the space. Across 4th Floor Creative, we aim to get to know our artists, their interests, what are the different facets of their story and personalities we can amplify. This helps us support our labels to build partnerships and content that’s true to the artist and something they are going to get excited about being involved with.” 

How will this meeting of music and gaming grow and evolve, including VR?

“The meeting of music and gaming and esports will only continue to grow and evolve. By leaning-in to define mutual value, the possibilities will no doubt be very powerful. Gaming is increasingly a social-first experience, especially during current conditions – pair this with the possibilities of the metaverse, the opportunity for music is limitless. The music consumption model continues to evolve around us. There’s more competing for listener and fan attention as our world grows more exciting, and more complex. Streaming radically inverted the paradigm in the shift from transaction to consumption, so that key marketing metrics now revolve around listener intent and engagement. 

“As engagement with music and gaming grows, I expect we’ll see an evolution where the gaming experience itself will become its own measure of impact: time spent, play engagement, skill building or mastery. Games can offer us valuable insights into additional ways to drive, measure and forecast audience engagement in terms of repeat engagement over time, cohort and segment analysis, average revenue per user, lifetime value. If we can apply these insights and leverage CRM infrastructure and stakeholder alignment to further expand the view of fan engagement across artists’ different verticals and platforms, then we’re in a whole other level of ability to deepen fan love for an artist, and foster and reward a lifetime of fandom.”

To read the full report on music and gaming, pick up the new issue – or subscribers can click here

* To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.

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