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Rappers take centre stage in the livestreaming video battle


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There’s something of a talent war going on in the livestreaming video space, with several gaming stars (Ninja, most prominently) being tempted away from Twitch by big-money offers from Microsoft’s rival, Mixer. Another company in the live-video space is Caffeine, and it’s just hauled in a big name: musician Drake. Caffeine described it as a multi-year, exclusive partnership.

“As a part of the deal, Caffeine will live stream and co-produce Rap Battles in collaboration with the world’s largest Battle Rap platform (URL),” it announced. “The URL partnership is part of the larger multiyear deal between Caffeine and Drake to bring an exciting range of highly curated live content to Caffeine’s premium platform.”

Caffeine has form in working with big hip-hop stars: in October 2019 it signed an exclusive deal with Offset out of Migos, although the terms remain private for both partnerships. Caffeine’s own financial backers include 21st Century Fox, which invested $100m in the company in September 2018.

Hip-hop may well play a role in Twitch’s fightback against the defections and big-name signings of its rivals, not least as it strengthens its links with parent company Amazon’s streaming service. One example comes this week: tomorrow (13 February) Amazon Music will host a ‘first listen’ event for the new album by artist A Boogie wit da Hoodie on its Twitch channel.

The event will see A Boogie debuting six tracks from the ‘Artist 2.0’ album, chatting to fans, and also playing the NBA 2K20 game against DJ and influencer Akademiks (who has 176,000 followers on his own Twitch channel) – all under the banner of ‘Rap Rotation’, Amazon Music’s flagship hip-hop playlist.

Twitch has made no secret of its desire to do more with music, and with hip-hop one of the dominant genres of the streaming era, it looks likely that prominent rappers’ star power will be playing a role in the live-video battles, alongside gamers.

Stuart Dredge

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