Warner Music Group's Arts Music division and Warner Chappell Music are snuggling up to Build-A-Bear Workshop for a new label partnership.
Through the exclusive global music deal, the customizable stuffed animal brand will set up Build-A-Bear Records as part of an effort to expand into original digital content and foster a deeper brand connection among consumers.
“Launching Build-A-Bear Records is another example of Arts Music’s commitment to fun, safe, family-friendly content as we build upon our foundation in the kids and family space,” said Kevin Gore, president of Warner Music’s Arts Music department, in a statement. “The company is making some really interesting moves to expand on its wildly successful retail offering and we’re excited to partner with them, and our friends at Warner Chappell Music, to bring Build-A-Bear Records to life.”
The Build-A-Bear branded label will release original albums, singles and playlists, including soundtracks from upcoming films, television shows and digital shorts, as well as sign and develop artists and their releases. Under the deal, Warner Chappell will handle publishing rights for all music on the label, even collaborating with the toy brand for opportunities with songwriters and catalogs on the publisher's roster.
The deal was spearheaded by Foundation Media Partners’ Patrick Hughes and Harvey Russell, who will stick onboard to help guide the operations of the label and music publishing venture.
Added Ashley Winton, Warner Chappell Music senior vp creative services: “Warner Chappell is thrilled to team up with Arts Music and Build-A-Bear, a company that creates magical memories for kids, and those who are kids-at-heart. This inventive project, which our sync and admin teams helped bring to fruition, is a great example of what we are focused on at Warner Chappell Music -- working together to build opportunities that super-serve our songwriters.”
The partnership is part of Build-A-Bear's push to broaden its content offerings, which have recently included the newly-launched streaming Build-A-Bear Radio station and a line of stuffed toys for Disney's The Lion King reboot.
Build-A-Bear launched its first multimedia plush line, Honey Girls, back in 2015, featuring songs and music videos available on an app. And as Build-A-Bear Workshop president and CEO Sharon Price John points out, sound chips have always been a popular addition to its toys.
“Music has been a part of our beloved retail experience for over a decade, with millions of sound chips added to our furry friends each year," Price John said in a statement. "In addition, music and our popular music videos have enhanced the story-telling and consumer engagement with key properties including Honey Girls, reinforcing the value that song can bring to our portfolio. The simultaneous partnership with Warner Chappell and Arts Music will allow us to offer a consistent schedule of new music releases for family entertainment, which we expect to be extremely complementary to our strategic initiatives inclusive of our Build-A-Bear Radio platform which launched late last year and build on the already high listenership levels of the station."
Build-A-Bear isn't the only toy brand making a foray into original content. My Little Pony, LEGO and Barbie, among others, have all expanded into film, television and music with varying degrees of success.