The Future of EDM: Space Invaders and Deadmau5 Stamp on a Human Face, Forever

Space Invaders meet Deadmau5

So music producer Deadmau5 and the video game Space Invaders have teamed up. Well, that’s not entirely true. Deadmau5’s lawyers have inked some kind of deal with Square Enix Ltd./TAITO Corporation’s lawyers. And soon, apparently, we’ll be able to spend money on products and/or experiences that bring those two entities together.

This is what you wanted, kids — EDM’s total world conquest. The PLURpocalypse, if you will. And with Live Nation and Robert F.X. Sillerman’s SFX pumping money into the ballooning “EDM space” like so much fracking fluid, it’s the kind of thing that’s starting to bubble to the surface.

As Billboard reported this week, this is EDM’s future. Sillerman is about to take his SFX company public, and potential investors are looking for growth opportunities far beyond the low-margin concert-ticket business and even the higher-margin festival business. According to Billboard, Sillerman’s strategy is likely to be an “end-to-end program encompassing on-site presence at SFX-owned events; endorsement from SFX-managed artists within paid, owned and earned media channels; editorial support from SFX-owned entities; and newly developed mobile or other technologies to tie it all together.” In other words, a vertically integrated marketing behemoth. In the same way that Google is an advertising company that runs a service allowing you to type questions and find answers on the Internet, SFX will be an advertising company that just happens to put on concerts.

All of which brings us back to today’s announcement about Deadmau5 and Space Invaders — a deal brought to you, in part, by Live Nation, SFX’s main competitor. Let’s unpack the press release and see what miracles such synergy hath wrought.

“DHX Media, the agent representing Space Invaders® in North America, and Live Nation Merchandise, Inc. (LNM), the exclusive merchandising and licensing agent representing pioneering electronic artist deadmau5, have jointly announced a co-brand license agreement between deadmau5 and Square Enix Ltd./TAITO Corporation, the exclusive owner of Space Invaders, fusing two explosive properties.”

If corporations are now people, it’s only fitting that Deadmau5 is a “property” — albeit one without its own registered trademark. (Joel, get your lawyers on that.) Exactly what kind of fusion they have in mind is unclear, but it’s a good bet that we should soon expect to see Space Invaders folded into Deadmau5’s visuals, and perhaps Deadmau5’s music to feature in upcoming editions of the game. Maybe there will be spaceships in the game shaped like his mouse head. Oh, and expect merch.

“deadmau5 and Space Invaders have teamed up to create a lifestyle brand crossing a myriad of categories launching in the high-end and specialty markets. Expected launch is Winter 2013. LNM will primarily represent the licensing and merchandising rights to the new hybrid brand across North America, with support from DHX Media, the entertainment company that initiated the collaboration.”

Like we said, there will be merch. In the “high-end and specialty markets,” to be precise — probably places like Gamespot, Electric Daisy Carnival (of which Live Nation is now part owner), and, who knows, maybe SkyMall?

“deadmau5, a Space Invaders fan so much that he has a green Space Invader tattooed on his neck, is one of the biggest names in electronic music and a major catalyst in the genre’s evolution from an esoteric subculture to the inexorable part of mainstream music today. The Space Invaders brand is similarly pervasive in popular culture, with the characters debuting in an arcade game in the late 70s and being referenced continually in the pop culture which cultivated artists like deadmau5. Fusing the first sci-fi-esque symbols of the computer-lead revolution that deadmau5 now represents 40 years later; the co-brand is a perfect synthesis for the digital age.”

So Space Invaders begat Deadmau5, who is now marrying Space Invaders. It’s sort of like Oedipus Rex meets the Singularity. Or, if you prefer, a beheaded snake biting its own tail.

“‘deadmau5 is the most popular electronic music artist and Space Invaders are the most recognized video game characters. Bringing them together is more than a collaboration, it is a revolution in popular culture,’ said Janet Dwoskin, Vice President of Licensing for Live Nation Merchandise. ‘This is going to be a very exciting and unique program.’ ‘We are overwhelmed to be collaborating with deadmau5, a truly unique and pioneering artist and a huge fan of our beloved Space Invaders,’ says Janet Swallow, Vice President of Licensing, Square Enix Ltd. ‘Our partners at DHX Media and Live Nation have brought together two iconic lifestyle brands and we look forward to all of the opportunities this collaboration will present.'”

Making fun of PR puffery is sort of like shooting fish in a barrel after you’ve already dropped jumper cables into the water. Still, to describe a co-brand between a 35-year-old video game and a living, breathing musician as a “collaboration” does seem a bit of a stretch. As for being “a revolution in popular culture,” also not really true: Sadly, subcultures (and nostalgia itself) have been getting assembly-lined, commodied, and sold back to us for a healthy markup for decades now.

“Stephanie Gonzalez, Director of Licensing at DHX Media adds: ‘We are delighted to be involved in this innovative project which underlines the potential for the fusion and reinvention of classic brands into an ultra-modern sphere in new and unique ways. The collaboration between deadmau5 and Space Invaders is another example of the way DHX Media aligns strategic and innovative licensing partnerships.’ ‘The natural synergy between deadmau5 and Space Invaders will be a powerful combination that will bring together the diehard fans of a perennial favorite with the trailblazer of the EDM explosion.'”

Remember that scene in Being John Malkovich when the actor is eating in a restaurant and he realizes that everyone in the restaurant looks exactly like him, and all language has been reduced to the horrifying repetition, “Malkovich Malkovich, Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich. Malkovich? Malkovich!” This paragraph is kind of like that, but with words like “brand” and “synergy” instead, and a drop at the end of it for good measure.

Game over, kids. Time to go listen to some Prince Jammy.


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