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Universal Music Expands Rights Agreement With Amazon, Twitch

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief

Global music giant Universal Music Group (UMG) has expanded a key rights deal with Twitch and Amazon Music.

The deal highlights the growing value of music catalogs held by publishers and labels, as well as the critical importance of synchronization licenses that allow for use of music in video and social media.

The expanded agreements will provide customers with enhanced access to some of the world’s most popular music content on Amazon, including live streams, high quality and spatial audio, artist merchandise, and exclusive experiences with UMG’s industry leading roster of artists from around the world.

Additionally, Twitch and UMG will work together to foster new innovative opportunities for artists and labels to creatively and commercially engage with their fans and new audiences. Twitch is owned by Amazon, and is by far the largest destination for streaming videos based on video gaming.

Folk-rock legend Bob Dylan’s music catalog was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2020 for a then-record $300 million, part of UMG’s strategy of buying out key music collections.

“With the breadth of their music services and products, and their dedicated focus on customers and creators, Amazon Music and Twitch are excellent strategic collaborators, committed to creating the best and most diverse experiences for fans across streaming music, live streaming, artist collaborations, and physical merchandise,” said Michael Nash, EVP, Digital Strategy, Universal Music Group. “With these agreements, we are proud to build on our track record of success in working closely with Amazon, and we’re looking forward to delivering even more incredible experiences for our artists and music fans everywhere.”

Under the agreements, subscribers to Amazon Music Unlimited will have access to stream even more music in HD, Ultra HD, and spatial audio from UMG’s expansive catalog.

Amazon Music and UMG will also continue to work together to enhance the fan experience when discovering and purchasing authentic merchandise from their favorite artists directly from the Amazon Music app, including apparel from UMG’s Bravado, the industry’s leading merchandise company. This will make it even easier for UMG artists to develop premium campaigns for their most important moments.

Just in the last year, Amazon Music and UMG collaborated with artists including Billie Eilish (Interscope), Selena Gomez(Interscope), and The Weeknd (Republic) to create exclusive merchandise collections tied to their new album campaigns. And most notably, Amazon Music worked with Ye (Def Jam) to launch limited-edition apparel engineered by Demna for the #FreeLarryHoover Benefit Concert, sold exclusively in the Amazon Fashion store and in the Amazon Music app for a limited time.

“UMG has been a strategic collaborator for us, as we continue to evolve our service and bring our customers even more ways to engage with their favorite artists, and discover new music,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music. “With these agreements, we’re strengthening and expanding how we can continue to work together to provide unique and exclusive experiences and create even more content for listeners.”

In doing so, UMG is taking advantage of the increased rights they have acquired in deals with artists, and by buying music catalogs from established artists. In late 2020 Universal made headlines around the world as it acquired the entire music catalog of Bob Dylan for more than $300 million; at that time a record sum.

But the Dylan deal was just a small part of the overall strategy for Universal. In that same year, Universal Music Group spent $2.87 billion on catalog acquisitions and artist advances last year, an increase of 71% over its spending in 2019.

As detailed in our TLL’s Special Report: Why the Value of Music Catalogs has Soared by 2500%, music catalogs from long-established artists has increased exponentially in value since 2015. Much of that has to do with the increased value of synch licenses, allowing music rights holder to earn revenue from streaming but also from social media networks like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Twitch, among others.

TikTok And Universal Expand Their Musical Alliance

On that note, Twitch has also agreed to provide commercial opportunities for UMG and its artists to engage directly with fans through its suite of products.

UMG intends to foster the creation of artist and label channels on Twitch and work closely with Twitch to produce an exclusive series of artist features and experiences, in addition to other music-based content, specifically for the service. This will enable UMG to provide unique opportunities for brands to communicate with passionate and engaged audiences.

“Twitch embodies a creator-first culture, including empowering musicians,” said Tracy Chan, Head of Music at Twitch. “Now, more than ever, we’re excited to work with UMG in an effort to further broaden the scope of tools available for their artists to engage with fans, while also providing new avenues for their artists to earn meaningful income while streaming on Twitch.”

Check Out the Stories Below For More Insights Into Music Rights Licensing

Special Report: Why The Value Of Music Catalogs Has Soared By 2500%

Special Report: The Evolution of Music Licensing