Sony Music Entertainment, Roblox Ink Expanded ‘Strategic Partnership’

Sony Music Unveils Joint Venture With Two Podcast Veterans
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Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and Roblox have finalized an expanded “strategic partnership” that will see the Big Three record label bring more of its signed acts to the 15-year-old online platform.  

Roblox and Sony Music Entertainment unveiled the deal via a formal release this morning, noting at the outset that the bolstered strategic partnership arrives on the heels of multiple “successful collaborations,” including a May of 2021 album launch party featuring Epic Records’ Zara Larsson and a November of 2020 virtual concert featuring Columbia Records’ Lil Nas X.

Lil Nas X’s show was “the first ever live virtual concert on Roblox,” the release reiterates, and some 36 million individuals watched the performance – which also featured virtual merchandise sales. Plus, Zara Larsson’s Poster Girl Roblox launch party attracted four million visits, the highest total of any such on-platform event to date.

As an aside, the Epic-signed Travis Scott previously drew some 12 million fans to his Fortnite concert, taking home a reported $20 million paycheck for the effort, and Warner Music Group in late April of 2021 – after participating in Roblox’s $520 million raise in January of 2021 – took a key step towards bringing its own artists to the metaverse. Moreover, Warner/Chappell and Sony Music Publishing didn’t join other prominent music publishers (including UMPG) and song-investment fund Hipgnosis in levying a massive copyright infringement lawsuit against Roblox last month.

Keeping the latter point in mind, Roblox – which inked a major licensing agreement with BMG about two weeks ago – relays at the end of the release: “Roblox respects the rights of all creators and uses advanced technology to screen all uploaded music. Roblox has no tolerance for repeat offenders and quickly responds to all submitted DMCA requests.”

Back to the nuances of the Sony Music-Roblox deal, however, the entities are set “to develop innovative music experiences,” the message states, offering “a range of new commercial opportunities for Sony Music artists to reach new audiences and generate new revenue streams around virtual entertainment.”

Addressing his company’s broadened partnership with Roblox in a statement, SME president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker said: “With this new agreement, we look forward to expanding our successful partnership with the Roblox team to further unlock commercial opportunities at the intersection of music and gaming. Immersive online environments represent a meaningful opportunity for reaching a growing number of fans who want to use virtual communities to enjoy shared music experiences.”

On this front, it bears highlighting that the aforementioned Hipgnosis has placed “more than 110” of its songs in video games “since January,” including Chic’s “A Warm Summer Night” in Grand Theft Auto V Online and Lizzo’s “Tempo” in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. Additionally, the fund “now exclusively represents the original music in EA Games,” also according to its FY 2021 earnings report.

Roblox Corporation stock (NYSE: RBLX) was down slightly from yesterday’s close at the time of this piece’s publishing, with a per-share price of $85.89. Nevertheless, the figure reflects a roughly 23 percent boost from RBLX’s worth when the company debuted on the stock market in mid-March.