The following MBW op/ed comes from Ran Geffen (pictured inset), founder of OMA XR content agency and the CEO of Amusica Song Management. “Microsoft has just become a music publisher – what if it bought Concord Music Group, tokenized its assets, invaded the AV multiverse and started selling NFTs,” asks Geffen.
Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition is a game-changer.
The company is spending $69 billion (more than the market value of Universal Music Group) on a deal that gives it access to a community of over 400m active players (more than Twitter) and a vast catalog of game titles with the ability to stretch the connected stories into film and TV as well as developing real estate in the metaverse (just like Warner Music Group).
Microsoft is already the publisher of the Minecraft universe – a vibrant marketplace where creators have generated, according to the 2021 Minecraft Franchise Factsheet, more than $350 million to date worldwide, with more than 1 billion unique pieces of content having been downloaded.
The word music is not mentioned in the factsheet, as Microsoft is not the music publisher of Minecraft’s soundtrack.
With the Activision deal, Microsoft has become a music publisher of soundtracks for the first time – not least Hans Zimmer’s Call Of Duty scores. If gaming is “the building blocks to the metaverse”, music is the cement.
The commitment of Microsoft’s chairman and CEO Satya Nadella to ‘invest deeply in world-class content, community and cloud’ could result in the acquisition of a music-driven company. Concord could be it.
Concord’s assets include an extensive catalog of evergreen and current music publishing and master rights, as well as theatrical rights to top tier plays, the Kidz Boop brand and an original AV content development division. That is a lot of cement.
Some of Concord’s assets have strong communities and strong off-chain brands associated with celebrities and influencers like The Sound Of Music and Phantom Of The Opera to name but a few.
The next step would be to put them on the blockchain, create an NFT release roadmap and an open DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) to create value in the Web3 world. Welcome to On The Block 3.0: it means to put assets TO sale and not FOR sale.
Activision could build Oz in the metaverse and create a P2E (play to earn) game that would take players on a trip down the yellow brick road, collecting NFTs to gain entrance to a Kidz Boop performance of The Wizard of Oz. Concord’s assets could be used to revive the Rock Band and Guitar Hero titles. Meanwhile, the Concord Original’s team could develop premium AV content based on Call of Duty and develop Minecraft into a multiverse that goes head-to-head with the likes of DC or Marvel.
The next logical move would be for Microsoft to add exclusive AV content as an expansion of its Game Pass and add video streaming to Xbox on top of Spotify’s audio integration – a pre-emptive move against Netflix, which just added gaming to the AV sub fee and a better value proposition than its rival, Sony’s PlayStation.
The chatter around Sony’s response to the acquisition suggests that it will buy EA Games (who are a part of Microsoft’s Game Pass) to maintain its dominance in the gaming market and diminish Microsoft’s gaming offering.
A possibility that was not considered was for Amazon to buy Sony. PlayStation’s games are hosted on AWS (Amazon’s cloud services), Microsoft Azure’s rival. Sony’s portfolio includes music, film and TV content, gaming and VR equipment, alongside equity in an array of Web3 companies – a perfect fit for Amazon, who has more than enough money to buy Sony and steaming wars to win.
The other players in the streaming wars need to make a move as well. It would also make sense for Disney to buy EA, who signed a 10-year exclusive development deal around the StarWars. EA Sports would be a great acquisition that would increase market share and add gaming to Disney+.
“Make no mistake, the worlds of music, video games, AV and the blockchain are becoming irreversibly entwined with the separate threads ever harder to define.”
House of Mouse rival Netflix – which has just acquired a video game studio – has already tapped into EA’s knowledge base by recruiting Mike Verdu. The real deal with Verdu is that, apart from his EA experience, he brings to the table priceless insight into Meta’s metaverse blueprint.
Meta is also in the game: It just revealed “a giant new AI supercomputer to shape the metaverse” and, according to the WSJ, poached over a hundred employees from MS’s HoloLens development teams and Apple. The latter poached Xbox engineers and is in the development stages of a game console. In William Shakespeare’s words: the plot has thickened.
It seems that the whole music and entertainment industry is trying to define its phygital (physical and digital) identity together with the big tech companies.
Perhaps it’s Tencent that has set the marker. The Chinese giant has a stake in music ownership (including Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group), streaming platforms (including Spotify), multiple video games studios (including Fortnite creator Epic) to highlight just a few of more than 600 investments worldwide.
Make no mistake, the worlds of music, video games, AV and the blockchain are becoming irreversibly entwined with the separate threads ever harder to define.Music Business Worldwide