Warner Music Group just ponied up ~$85m for one of the internet’s most successful meme factories.
The deal was technically for IMGN Media, a network of popular esports, comedy, and ASMR accounts. But the biggest IMGN prize is Daquan, an Instagram account followed by Drake, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, and 15m+ others.
An anonymous high schooler started it in 2014 — then built it into a media empire.
Why would a record label want in on memes?
The suits want to know what’s trending with teens.
Instead of paying influencers, Warner is cutting out the middleman. A look at Daquan’s data could explain how to catapult new singles into viral hits.
One proof of concept: Create Music Group bought the musical.ly account Flighthouse for “mid-five figures” in 2017, when the account had just 1m followers.
Now Flighthouse is one of the main forces behind TikTok’s biggest songs.
The label love of memes goes way back
“Falling” by Trevor Daniel has been all over the streaming charts this year, and you can trace its popularity back to a “Simpsons” meme.
A bigwig at Alamo Records told Complex that a well-placed meme can shoot streaming numbers up between 122% and 600%.
Memes aren’t just for music
Some companies, like Doing Things Media, are buying dog and fitness accounts with millions of followers — then selling partnerships to marketing bigwigs.
Reid Hailey, Doing Things’ CEO, told us the Daquan deal shows “how valuable meme accounts can be to drive awareness.”