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“The next gen is virtual”: Five Vectors on the rise of esports

Five Vectors, a start-up founded by former Universal Music Group and ESL executives, is on a mission to create “the first real baby” of the music and gaming space.

The company, which recently received US$1 million in seed funding from esports investor BitKraft, is aiming to “bridge the gap between the two worlds and create an end-to-end system”, creating and integrating music into games, streams and live esports events.

Esports has burst onto the entertainment scene in force in recent years, with revenues from the competitive gaming sector set to exceed US$1 billion in 2020. Esports events are now filling large-scale venues such as the O2 in London and New York’s Madison Square Garden with a host of new, purpose-built stadia also popping up to house the events.

Major music industry players including DEAG, AEG, CAA, MSG, TEG and Vivendi have pricked up their ears at esports’ potential, investing in or partnering with those operating in the gaming space.

However, for Five Vectors co-founder Andres Lauer, the role of music in the gaming space “is not being pushed to its limits”.

“All we’ve seen is the promotional angle, but no one is truly looking to understand what best fits the situation”

“All we’ve seen is the promotional angle – of pushing artists out there through gaming events – but no one is truly looking to understand what best fits the situation,” says Lauer, “so neither side is really benefiting.”

Lauer met fellow Five Vectors co-founder Wasae Imran while working on a multi-year partnership deal between Universal and esports giant ESL. Lauer, then head of digital strategy at the music company, dropped out shortly after the deal was signed, teaming up with ESL’s global head of video network, Imran, to work on a different kind of music/esports hybrid.

The Five Vectors team is looking at how music can be integrated into competitive gaming to “truly enhance the experience”. Lauer believes that the emotive and social qualities of music have the power to make physical and digital events much more immersive for players and for fans.

Working with gaming partners, the start-up creates data-driven profiles of the kinds of music that gamers, and those watching them, best respond to, and their research is revealing that the music best suited to esports events is not necessarily what would be expected.

“A lot of times dance music or mainstream pop tracks are used at esports events, but we found that often more instrumental music is preferred”

“A lot of times dance music or mainstream pop tracks are used [at esports events], but we found that often more niche music is preferred, and the arrangement always varies due to the curve of the game,” says Lauer.

Livestreaming also forms a big part of esports viewership, with those watching at home demanding a different kind of experience. EDM, for example, works in an arena but could be difficult in the livestream, states Lauer, so Five Vectors is looking to help create or find the right composition with pieces to fit a range of specific situations.

Once the company has identified the right kinds of music for the gaming space, the plan is to help artists, producers and independent labels find access and new ways of monetisation in the esports space, allowing them to flourish and grow their audience

“We are moving into a virtual age. The new generation identifies with their ‘online selves’ and is leading a more and more virtual lifestyle – this is why esports is so important to us,” says Lauer. “With Five Vectors, we are going to integrate music into this sector in completely new and engaging ways.”

 


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Esports and music hub to open in Stockholm in 2021

Space, a music, videogaming and media company run by leading Swedish record label execs, has announced Space Stockholm, a seven-storey, 7,500m² (80,000sqft) gaming and music hub set to open in the Swedish capital in the first half of 2021.

The complex, to be located in Stockholm’s main square, Sergels Torg, will include recording studios, a co-working space, a gym, a nightclub and around 500 high-end gaming stations – along with an arena that, at a capacity of up to 800 seats, will be the largest permanent esports venue in Europe, according to the company.

Space’s co-founders are Gustav Käll, head of Universal’s esports label, Enter Records, Per Sundin, the former MD of Universal Music Sweden, and Lars Bloomberg, a partner at architecture firm DAP Group. Sundis is now CEO of Pop House Sweden, partly owned by Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus, which has invested an undisclosed amount into the project.

“Gaming, music and content creation are the three biggest pillars in terms of what the youth enjoy”

“In online culture, people are interested in gaming, music and content creation. They are the three biggest pillars in terms of what the youth enjoy,” Käll, who remains head of Enter – a JV between Universal Music and Electronic Sports League (ESL) – tells the Esports Observer. “We want to bring that under one roof.”

“Space Stockholm, with its unique location at the heart of Sweden’s capital, is poised to become a cultural landmark, not only for the city, but for the entire country,” says Anna König Jerlmyr, mayor of Stockholm, in a statement. “It promises a bright future for Sergels Torg by creating a modern, progressive hub for digital culture.”

Esports revenues are on track to exceed $900m this year, as a growing number of sponsors and investors show interest in the competitive gaming sector. Live music companies that have invested in, or partnered with, major esports competitions and teams in recent years include Deutsche EntertainmentAEGCAATEG and Madison Square Garden Company.

 


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Five Vectors receives $1m from esports investor

Five Vectors, a start-up bridging the gap between the music and gaming industries, has raised US$1 million in seed funding, in a round led by esports investment specialist Bitkraft Esports Ventures.

Five Vectors was founded earlier this year by former Universal Music Group executive Andres Lauer and ex-ESL executive Wasae Imran, and is based out of Los Angeles and Berlin.

Combining the two founders’ expertise, the company produces music for esports tournaments, leagues, games and teams, working in partnership with gaming industry publishers and esports organisations.

Five Vectors has created music for esports league Rainbow Six Siege, SK Gaming’s League of Legends team and the Japanese esports projects of creative gaming agency PlayBrain, among others.

Currently, Five Vectors initiatives engage over 4m gamers, with 600,000 monthly active users, and its artists collectively have more than 15m streams on Spotify.

“Music and games are coming together in new ways”

The funding will be used to attract additional music talent and to make music more accessible to game publishers, platforms, teams, leagues and creators across the gaming and esports industries.

“We are extremely proud to welcome the Bitkraft Esports Ventures family as an investor in Five Vectors,” says Lauer, CEO and co-founder of Five Vectors. “We see a powerful overlap between music and gaming and created Five Vectors to fill the gap in the industry by providing customised music solutions for the global gaming audience.

“Music and games are coming together in new ways,” says Bitkraft founder and managing partner, Jens Hilgers. “With our investment in Five Vectors, we are supporting an incredibly ambitious team that has subscribed itself entirely to music experiences and technology in gaming and esports.”

Esports revenues are on track to exceed $900m this year as more and more sponsors and investors show interest in the competitive gaming sector.

Live music-related companies that have invested in, or partnered with, major esports competitions and teams in recent years include DEAG, AEG, CAA, TEG and MSG.

 


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300k+ tune in to record-breaking UK esports event

More than 306,000 people tuned in to the UK’s largest esports tournament, ESL One Birmingham, which was held at Arena Birmingham from 31 May to 2 June, according to arena operator NEC Group.

The tournament surpassed the highest-ever viewership for an Dota 2 ESL One event.

As ESL One (a tournament organised by Electronic Sports League) returned to the UK for the second time, Arena Birmingham opened its doors to over 24,000 Dota 2 fans from across the world. The tournament was watched for more than 7.6 million hours online over the course of the weekend, and saw nearly 8m video views and just over 6m impressions on social media.

Team Secret, who now hold four ESL One titles, were victorious, and claimed their share of the US$300,000 prize pool.

The UK’s digital minister, Margot James MP, attended the event and met with players, teams and production crew.

Ian Congdon, head of venue sales at Arena Birmingham, comments: “We are thrilled to have hosted such a prestigious international event for the second year running.

“I am very excited about what the future brings for the UK esports scene”

“Arena Birmingham is one of the busiest and best equipped large-scale indoor venues in Europe, so it’s the ideal place to hold an event of this type which welcomes the most passionate of esports fans from across the globe.”

“Birmingham did it again for the second year running,” adds James Dean, CEO of ESL UK. “The crowd was electric, memes were rife, the dotes [Dota fans] were incredible and yet again records were set. It’s safe to say ESL One has found a true home in Birmingham.

“It was an honour to welcome Margot James to the event, [and] a very exciting demonstration to the entire UK esports industry of support and enthusiasm from [the British] government. I am very excited about what the future brings for the UK esports scene.”

Electronic Sports League (ESL), the world’s largest esports promoter, has strategic partnerships with several major music industry players, inckuding AEG, Vivendi/UMG and Australia’s TEG.

The esports (competitive videogaming) market is set to reach US$1 billion in value in 2020.

 


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UMG announces partnership with ESL

Universal Music Group’s Central Europe division has this week announced a multi-year partnership with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) to discover and promote new artists throughout the world of gaming, creating what is hoped will be “the ultimate destination for esports and music fans.”

Part of the deal includes the creation of a joint-label between the two entities. Using ESL’s extensive global platform, which last year attracted more than 300 million viewers in total, the label team will scout out promising new talent and integrate music into live game broadcasts and the various ESL social media channels.

Artists signed by the label will also have the opportunity to perform at live game tournaments. This will not be the first time UMG artists have crossed over into the world of gaming; 2017 saw Years & Years, Chase & Status, Wretch 32 and Jaguar Skills – all of whom are signed by Island Records, a division of UMG – take to the stage of the UK’s Insomnia Gaming Festival.

Commenting on the partnership, Frank Briegmann, president and CEO of Central Europe UMG says: “Together, our dedicated new label, with its laser-sharp focus on the artists and music of esports, will provide the soundtrack to the gaming experience for this massive global audience for years to come.”

“Music is a universal language and, like gaming, one of the key-pillars of pop-culture”

Music and gaming have indeed become increasingly intertwined in recent years. Since 2016, the ESL has signed a number of impressive deals tying it to the music industry, including a partnership with AEG which introduced esports to the O2 and the Barclays Center, and a union with UMG parent company Vivendi to co-promote a new esports championship across the Canal television network.

More recently, ESL joined forces with the world’s largest heavy metal music gathering, Wacken Open Air festival, to create a world-first esports arena at this year’s event. Festivalgoers were able to play against each other and watch tournaments between professional gamers and artists, set to the soundtrack of heavy metal music.

Speaking of the new deal and the link between music and gaming, Bernhard Mogk, senior vice president of global sales and business development at ESL says: “Over the last couple years, live music acts have become an integral part of our global tournaments.

“Music is a universal language and, like gaming, one of the key-pillars of pop-culture. ”

 


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Ageing metalheads escape care home to attend sold-out W:O:A

Two elderly men disappeared from a German care home last weekend, only to be found hours later at Wacken Open Air, the world’s biggest metal music festival, Deutsche Welle reports.

After finding two of its residents missing, nurses at the care home alerted police. After searching throughout the day, the pair were later found at 3am at the festival, in a “disorientated and dazed” state, according to police spokesperson Merle Neufeld.

But despite appearing confused at first, Neufeld went on to suggest the two had definitely had a good time on their outing. “They obviously liked the metal festival,” she explained, adding the pair were reluctant to leave.

Wacken said the pair showed that you’re “never too old to rock”:

Alongside the two unlikely metal fans, around 75,000 people attended this year’s festival, the world’s biggest metal event. In a departure from Wacken tradition, instead of battling against fields of mud, this year’s guests were warned against the threats of fire and dust caused by this summer’s heatwave.

This year’s line-up once again featured a who’s who of hard rock and metal acts, with Judas Priest, Nightwish, In Flames, Ghost, Helloween and more bringing the noise to the capacity crowd in Wacken, Schleswig-Holstein.

Remarkably, the festival has also already almost sold out next year’s 30th-anniversary event, featuring Sabaton, Parkway Drive, Meshuggah and, in a German festival exclusive, Demons and Wizards, with a beastly 66,666 tickets sold as of yesterday.

https://www.facebook.com/WackenOpenAir.official/photos/a.213608248662778.62072.123515234338747/2143411682349082/?type=3&theater

 

Now in its 29th year, the latest edition of the festival also played host to the first ever esports arena at a festival. In partnership with the Electronic Sports League (ESL), the arena saw exhibition matches between professional teams, bands and amateurs throughout the weekend.

Building on the success of the arena, it was announced on 2 August at the festival that an esports academy would be established in a four-way partnership between Schleswig-Holstein’s government (Germany’s northernmost state), Wacken Open Air, the University of Applied Sciences West Coast and esports.com.

Daniel Günther, prime minister of Schleswig-Holstein, speaks of the deal: “Sports events help to raise the image of Schleswig-Holstein nationally and internationally and also generate revenue for tourism.”

“This includes modern event formats, such as esports events.”

 


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Wacken Open Air 2018 to feature esports arena

Wacken Open Air, the world’s largest gathering for heavy metal music, will this year welcome the addition of an esports arena to its sold-out event, making it the first ever music festival to do so. The festival has joined forces with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) to create the ESL Arena, which will open on 1 August.

The 1,800 square-metre esports village will invite festivalgoers to compete in the daily amateur tournaments of popular games including League of Legends and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. Beyond amateurs, professional teams, bands and artists will also take part in exhibition matches, set to the soundtrack of heavy metal music.

The music industry is becoming increasingly involved in the world of gaming and esports. Just this week (16 July), Universal Music Canada announced its mutually beneficial deal with Luminosity Gaming, one of the world’s largest esports organisations. Similarly, 2017 saw Universal Music Group partner with the UK’s Insomnia Gaming Festival.

“Like many games, heavy metal creates fantasy worlds.”

ICS, the promoters behind Wacken Open Air, say this project is taking advantage of the world’s rising interest in gaming. Speaking to Pollstar, ICS CEO Holger Hübner, comments: “Like many games, heavy metal creates fantasy worlds.

“[We are] proud to be pioneering the world’s first esports theme experience at a music festival, so we are very glad to have ESL as a most capable partner that is setting the international standard in esports.”

Boasting relationships with the likes of French media conglomerate Vivendi and venue and promotions giant AEG, the ESL has slowly built up a host of high-profile partnerships in the music industry. On top of this, the organisation claims to have reached more than 400 million viewers in 2017 across its live events.

 


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Universal Music Canada partners with Luminosity Gaming

Universal Music Canada (UMC) has today announced an exclusive partnership with one of the world’s largest esports organisations, Luminosity Gaming. The two groups will work together to connect gaming and music in a way that is mutually beneficial to both UMC’s artists and Luminosity’s esport athletes, the companies say.

The deal will see both parties use each other’s platforms – UMC artists will share their music, exclusive contests, event offerings and sneak previews with Luminosity’s 60 million-strong following across social media and twitch.tv. To mark the start of this, Universal has also introduced Gaming Hip Hop, a new playlist designed for gamers to stream while they play.

Both UMC’s president and CEO Jeffrey Remedios and Luminosity’s founder Steve Maida have spoken eagerly about the new deal. “We’re very proud to forge a local connection with a global reach between two Canadian organisations located in Toronto,” says Remedios.

“This partnership with Canada’s leading music company is only further proof esports is multi-faceted and has no boundaries.”

“We are always looking for new ways to reach music fans, and Luminosity Gaming is the answer. Music is an essential part of esports and gaming as the two worlds are very much intertwined.”

For years now, the interest in competitive video-gaming has been steadily rising in the music industry. In 2016, promotions and venues giant AEG signed a lucrative deal with the Electronic Sports League (ESL) – sending competitive gaming events to huge venues including the O2 in London and the Barclays Center in New York. Just a month later, Universal Music Group (UMG) parent company Vivendi signed a deal to co-promote a new esports championships with the ESL. The following year saw UMG partner with Insomnia Gaming Festival.

Steve Maida has spoken about Luminosity’s new partnership and the success of esports overall. He says: “Our pairing is a natural fit, and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can further integrate music into gaming.

“This partnership with Canada’s leading music company is only further proof esports is multi-faceted and has no boundaries.”

 


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Debut IEM event in Oz “an unqualified success”

The inaugural Australian edition of esports competition Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) was viewed by eight million people worldwide, event co-promoter TEG Live has revealed.

Electronic Sports League (ESL), the company behind IEM, signed a strategic partnership with Ticketek parent TEG in March, promising to launch “a new era in esports in Australia”. ESL, the world’s leading esports promoter, also has similar agreements with music-industry giants AEG and Vivendi.

IEM Sydney, which saw eight teams do battle on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, took place at the TEG-owned, AEG-operated Qudos Bank Arena (21,000-cap.) on 6–7 May, attracting a live audience of 15,000 and 8m unique viewers online. Brazilian organisation SK Gaming were the victors, taking home the lion’s share of the US$200,000 prize money.

“IEM Sydney was an amazing event with a highly engaged audience, a great live atmosphere and a huge global viewership online,” comments TEG CEO Geoff Jones.

“”In time we will see the star players of Counter-Strike build profiles like the top athletes in other sports”

“In time we will see the star players of CS:GO build profiles like the top athletes in other sports. It is a really exciting time for esports in Australia and TEG is delighted to be a part of the developments with ESL Australia.”

ESL Australian MD Nick Vanzetti adds: “Fifteen years ago I dreamed along with my peers of massive crowds filling an arena to watch esports and this year we made that a reality. […]

“This is a new beginning for esports in Australia. We have set the standard and need to keep raising the bar.”

Global esports revenues are expected to reach US$1.1 billion by 2019.

 


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ESL continues musical expansion with TEG tie-up

Electronic Sports League (ESL), the world’s leading promoter of competitive videogaming events, has signed a strategic partnership with TEG Live, in a deal the latter calls a “launchpad for a new era in esports in Australia”.

It is the third such music-industry partnership signed by ESL in the past five months, following tie-ups with AEG (AEG Live/Presents, AXS, The O2 and other venues) and Vivendi (Universal Music Group, See Tickets, Digitick).

The first event co-promoted by ESL and TEG Live will be the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) – the world’s longest-running esports competition – which will visit Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena (21,000-cap.) on 6 and 7 May.

The winning team at IEM Sydney, which pits “the world’s best pro-gaming teams up against Australia’s finest” in a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament, will take home close to A$260,000 in prize money.

“TEG Live has been watching the phenomenal global growth of pro gaming and waiting for the right opportunity in the Australian market,” says TEG Live managing director, Tim McGregor. “We are thrilled to have the world’s leading esports company, ESL, as a partner.

“TEG Live has been watching the phenomenal global growth of pro gaming and waiting for the right opportunity in the Australian market”

“The Intel Extreme Masters is an exceptional event that will set the benchmark in this entertainment genre in Australia. We expect there will be huge interest from both fans and brands that have been waiting for an event of this scale to finally be staged in Australia.”

ESL’s vice-president of pro gaming, Michal Blicharz, adds: “Australia has been an attractive market for us as part of our global expansion of the IEM brand. We look forward to bringing IEM to new global audiences and making history for esports in Australia.”

TEG Live is the promotion division of Australian live entertainment group TEG, which also owns ticket agency Ticketek and data firm TEG Analytics. It also bought Paul Dainty’s Dainty Group business last July.

Global esports revenues are expected to reach US$1.1 billion by 2019.

 


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