"This is something that we've been looking to do for a while," says Edgar Andino, Ozuna's manager. "We’ve been looking at what gaming has been doing for artists, the masses and the unique engagement within the gaming community. We understand that this is the future. We realized this could be an interesting opportunity for not only gaming but also fashion and music."
In the upcoming months, Ozuna's now-iconic teddy bear logo will be incorporated on the professional jerseys worn during XSET's competitive games. "That'll be a first for a team to have a musical logo presence," says Selkoe.
Future initiatives include an NFT dropping mid-May, and gaming will play a major role at Ozuna's Cancun Fest scheduled for Nov. 4-8.
"Music will be the center piece at the festival but a huge part of it will be gaming and because Ozuna actually plays, we will have competitions and drop-ins where he'll play with fans," adds Selkoe. "We really want to incorporate gaming, avatars and digital items into Ozuna Fest in a way that gamifies the whole experience. There will be a digital element to it and a live element to it."
Expanding gaming experiences in Latin America is a shared vision for Selkoe, Ozuna and Andino. The plan is to take gaming tournaments to places such as Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, where there's a huge Latino gaming community, according to Andino.
"One of the reasons we joined XSET is because we envision to be bilingual and bicultural," he adds. "Similar to how Ozuna tours we want to tour with tournaments."
For now, Selkoe will focus on building Ozuna's presence on Twitch and other digital spaces native to gamers while bringing in more gaming-related sponsorships. "Now that he’s on a team and he’s a good gamer, that opens up opportunities to do stuff in games," he says.
Partnerships between gaming companies and the music industry have become increasingly popular, allowing musicians to monetize their work and build on their fan bases. In March, XSET – formed nine months ago with a commitment to diversity in gaming, including elevating the representation of communities of color and women – and QC Holdings signed a wide-ranging strategic partnership that includes an investment in XSET by Quality Control. Rapper Swae Lee also joined XSET in October.
About his deal with XSET, Ozuna said in a statement: "I’ve always loved gaming and with the worldwide explosion of gaming culture, it was important for me to be one of the first movers - both from an ownership perspective and on the talent side. The mixture of music and gaming is only going to get bigger and together with XSET, I’m happy to be leading the way."