'The JV is a win-win for everyone': UMG launches label with esports giant ESL

'The JV is a win-win for everyone': UMG launches label with esports giant ESL

Universal Music Group Central Europe has launched a joint venture with ESL, the world’s largest esports company. The multi-year partnership will help discover and promote new artists through the global video game tournaments and channels.

In an industry first, UMG will partner with ESL to create a destination for gaming and music fans to experience the official soundtrack of the esports league and events. The strategic partnership includes the launch of a new joint label between ESL and UMG, where artists and producers will be able to submit their work to the label’s A&R team, who will sign and promote talent across all ESL tournaments and channels worldwide to a captive audience of millions. 

The label JV will also include the exclusive integration of new music into global live broadcasts and ESL social media channels, as well as performances during live tournaments, which will take place during half-time shows and prior to grand finals globally. In 2017 more than 300 million people watched ESL events around the world.

Frank Briegmann, president & CEO Central Europe Universal Music Group and Deutsche Grammophon, said: “I’m delighted that UMG and ESL, two market leaders in global entertainment, have joined forces. Together, our dedicated new label, with its laser-sharp focus on the artists and music of esports, will provide the soundtrack to the gaming experience for this massive global audience for years to come.”

Live music acts have become an integral part of our global tournaments

Bernhard Mogk

“Music is a universal language and, like gaming, one of the key pillars of pop-culture,” said Bernhard Mogk, SVP global sales & business development, ESL. “Over the last couple years, live music acts have become an integral part of our global tournaments. We are looking forward to giving new artists and talent a new platform to perform on and to provide even more entertainment to our fans, both on-site and for everyone watching our live streams around the world. This joint venture with Universal Music is a win-win for everyone.”

The strategic relationship with ESL and label partnership will be managed out of Universal Music Group’s Berlin headquarters by Dirk Baur, president, marketing labs, and Gustav Käll, head of esports at UMG, Central Europe, who will oversee day-to-day operations. 

“I am excited to be part of the first team to work on identifying and pushing artists specifically for the esports space,” said Baur. “Marketing Labs specialises in strategies for content targeted at a digital audience and it will be a treat to develop international and multi-platform approaches for the global gaming community.”

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