Warner Music Group and Twitch: Why Record Labels Matter

Warner Music Group (WMG) and Twitch recently announced a first-of-its-kind relationship to launch recording artist channels and create a standalone music space featuring premium music-centric programming on Twitch. The deal demonstrates that the legacy music labels such as WMG are as important as ever. In fact, they might play a more vital role as star makers in an increasingly cluttered digital world.

Why Digital Is a Two-Edged Sword

In the digital age, anyone who has a TikTok or YouTube account can publish music. And in that regard, digital is liberating: you don’t need a deal with a record label to share your music to the world. But how do you find an audience after you upload your music when everyone around you is competing for eyeballs and ears, too? A Scooter Braun discovering a Justin Bieber on YouTube happens rarely. Music labels possess the muscle and money to amplify your name. If they do their jobs right, they solve the distribution and promotion problem for up-and-coming artists.

Why the Twitch/WMG Deal Matters

The Twitch/WMG deal will tap into the power of Twitch as a distribution platform for WMG artists. WMG acts Saweetie, Bella Poarch, and Sueco will receive artist channels on the platform, with more to come. And yes, we’re talking about the Saweetie who recently collaborated with McDonald’s on a branded value meal — timed with the release of new music under WMG:

Twitch may also become an important intermediary between artists and some of the brands that have marketing relationships with Twitch, ranging from Chipotle to the NFL. In other words, Saweetie’s successful collaboration with McDonald’s is just a taste of things to come.

The relationship will also give WMG a way to scout emerging talent on one of the most culturally relevant platforms in the world. For example, WMG and Twitch have already announced programming that includes a freestyle throwdown for Twitch rappers and a segment, “The One,” in which guest artists will “meet up-and-coming Twitch musicians that they have inspired.” The joint WMG/Twitch press release elaborates on programming:

  • The Drop — A hang where hosts and audience talk about the latest news from the world of music with special guests and performances.
  • Freestyle Throwdown — Twitch rappers have to impress the panel with their skills, while playing the hottest games. They’ll have to concentrate hard since the audience chooses their topics and have a say in who wins.
  • The One — Every artist has “the one” — the combo of another artist and song that inspired them to be part of the music world. Guest artists will perform these songs and take audience questions, as well as meet up-and-coming Twitch musicians that they have inspired in turn.

A closer relationship with Twitch should also give WMG an important listening tool to monitor the tastes of the all-important Gen Z/Millennial audience that Twitch attracts.

This Twitch/WMG deal is about two powerful brands understanding how to become more influential during the rise of the creator economy.

Writer and pop culture lover.