Warner Music's Newest Artists Are… Hot Wheels and Barbie

Warner Music Group and major toy maker Mattel have entered a multi-year exclusive distribution deal, the two companies announced on Friday, giving Warner access to Mattel’s catalog of over 1,000 children and family friendly songs from iconic toy brands including Hot Wheels, Barbie, American Girl, Fisher-Price and Thomas and Friends.

Warner will put out hundreds of previously unreleased tracks from their various brands, the companies said, and will also collaborate to create and release new music from Mattel, including the upcoming Thomas and Friends birthday album, which comes out next week. The partnership comes through Warner’s Arts Music division, which was established in mid-2017 to focus on classical music, film scores, jazz, children’s music and other more niche music genres.

“Arts Music has been steadily building a powerful repertoire of family-friendly material over the last few years and adding Mattel to our offering absolutely takes it to a new level,” Kevin Gore president of Arts Music at WMG said in a statement. “Mattel’s iconic brands have been bringing joy to children around the world since its founding 75 years ago, and we are honored that they’ve trusted our team as the exclusive stewards of their musical enterprises. We very much look forward to releasing new music full of positive messages, fun adventures and educational themes to delight kids and families for generations to come.”

The deal comes at very disparate but notable times for the two companies; Mattel has faced significant financial struggles for years. Meanwhile Warner Music was exploring a potential IPO as the music industry saw new prosperity brought on by the streaming era, although reports show that plan was put on hold amid the ongoing health crisis.

“Music is an important part of Mattel’s DNA, and has been integral to our brands’ ability to connect with children of all ages to help them learn and grow,” Mattel’s Fred Soulie, senior vice president ofcontent distribution and business development, said in a statement. “WMG’s Arts Music division will unlock our substantial library of music to help us broaden our reach across digital and streaming platforms. Additionally, their significant expertise in nurturing music creation across genres will enable us to significantly expand our catalog with new music for generations of children to come.”

The news of the deal comes less than a week after another music major, Universal Music Group, announced an exclusive “innovative partnership” with the LEGO Group that will roll out a series of children’s products in the next few months.

In coincidental contrast to the Warner and Universal deals, Hasbro — maker of toys such as Mr. Potato Head and My Little Pony — purchased Entertainment One last year, making it the owner of Death Row Records, which has been home to Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Tupac.

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