EXCLUSIVE: Build-A-Bear Workshop is making a big foray into showbiz brand building. While the venerable Missouri-based concern that draws kids to build their own stuffed toys seems a natural to broaden into brand-obsessed TV and film properties as it evolves its retail operation into a more diverse business that includes original digital content, first big step will be in the record business.
Warner Music Group’s Arts Music division and Warner Chappell Music have entered into an exclusive global music partnership with Build-A-Bear Workshop. The label will be called Build-A-Bear Records, which the bear-maker sees as a strong opportunity to better connect consumers with its brand. The Build-A-Bear branded label under Arts Music 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. Warner Chappell Music will represent and administer publishing rights for all music on the label and collaborate with Build-A-Bear on opportunities with current WCM songwriters and catalogs.
Kevin Gore, President of Warner Music’s Arts Music Division, called the initiative “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. 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.”
Build-A-Bear has been broadening, as stores now include the building of stuffed toys reflecting My Little Pony, Peanuts and most recently figures from the upcoming Disney movie The Lion King. Perhaps it can also build or bolster recording artists.
Warner Chappell Music senior veep of Creative Services Ashley Winton called 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.”
Said Sharon Price John, Build-A-Bear Workshop president and chief executive officer: “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. 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.”
Deal was constructed through Foundation Media Partners’ Patrick Hughes and Harvey Russell, who will continue to work with Arts Music and Warner Chappell on the operations of the label and music publishing venture.