The intersection of music and esports is one of the fastest-moving business trends in entertainment.
Esports leagues and game developers are blooming into full-fledged media brands, and are looking to the music business to solidify their cultural capital. And artists and music companies are looking to diversify and experiment with new audiovisual technologies and tap into the power of highly engaged subcultures and captive household audiences.
Some of the world’s biggest artists (Imagine Dragons, Drake, Scooter Braun, TheFatRat) and music corporations (Universal Music Group, Insomniac Events, iHeartMedia, MTV, Creative Artists Agency) are striking deals with some of the world’s biggest esports brands (Riot Games, ESL, Luminosity Gaming, Vision Esports) at an unprecedented rate.
Universal has launched an initiative with the Danish organisation Astralis, which competes in Europe’s pro League of Legends competition, the LEC. That partnership kicked off with the debut of a song titled “To the Stars” performed by Danish artist Mattis, and the official music video was launched on Astralis’ YouTube channel. Warner Music chose to continue a relationship with the LEC itself for the third consecutive year, showcasing songs from its artists during a “Song of the Week” broadcast segment and providing music for use in both the LEC and European Masters broadcasts.
Riot Games, which publishes League of Legends, was a pioneer in making music an endemic part of esports. Songs from the likes of Imagine Dragons and Chrissy Costanza have become iconic esports anthems after their debut as official theme songs for the League of Legends World Championship. Riot even created an in-game Korean pop group, K/DA.
These partnerships allow the established music industry entities to ingrain themselves in the esports culture, which can lead to more authentic engagement and activation.