In August, Warner Music Group announced a major play to grab the attention of youths.
It acquired US-based youth culture media brand UPROXX for an undisclosed sum, however a person involved in the deal told the LA Times WMG paid “less than $100 million”.
UPROXX reaches more than 40 million across its owned and operated and social channels, and with its closest rival being the publisher juggernaut Vice, it was a genius play to influence charts and streaming numbers.
And while UPROXX continues to be run by CEO and Chief Creative Benjamin Blank and Co-Founder and Publisher Jarret Myer, there was talk at the time regarding just how big of an influence Warner would have on the title.
But thanks to an interview with Max Lousada, global CEO of Warner’s recorded music operation on Music Business Worldwide, we now know the major label has been leaning in at UPROXX‘s content meetings.
“We want to have a closer dialogue and relationship with the consumer,” Lousada told MBW. “We want to be able to compete in the attention economy with a diverse range of products, experiences, and opportunities for our artists and for their fans.”
Lousada was referring to both Warner’s purchase of UPROXX and of German merch/e-commerce hub EMP, which Warner acquired last month for over US$180m.
“I love the idea that we can create discovery moments digitally, and then we can deliver something more that reflects fandom. There’s a tribal excitement to a fan wearing that T-shirt, that cap, or that pair of trainers,” he said.
MBW‘s Tim Ingham asked Lousada whether the UPROXX buy was part of a strategy to put context around an artist – no easy feat in a world of streaming playlists and short attention spans.
“The reality is [streaming services] provide a really robust digital distribution solution, while what labels provide is the ignition of global discovery and the fuel for global excitement.
“A one-song streaming hit benefits greatly from worldwide distribution, but what you’re not getting from that is a truly immersive artist experience – especially when playlists are often about passive consumption,” he added. “It’s now becoming very clear that to break an artist you need brilliant A&R, plus dynamic social strategies and marketing creativity.”
Lousada told MBW that the sheer quantity of music distributed on streaming platforms makes it harder for artists to cut through the noise.
“We need to provide the most powerful ways for artists to engage with their fans, and allow those fans to choose whichever service feels right to them.”
While paid-for, native content is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US – with Australia fast following suit – labels are having to become more savvy with their owned and operated ventures.
“We’re now combining that forensic A&R, heightened creativity and fan-first approach, with a better understanding of the role of the platforms,” Lousada said.
Naturally we can expect to see a lot more Warner-affiliated acts on UPROXX, and so we should. In the same way Warner Music Australia launched its blog publications Maniacs and Cool Accidents, a leg-up for a major label-signed artist in the media market should come part and parcel with the deal.