Warner Music Group (WMG) is once again growing its involvement in children’s music, this time through a deal with Yoto, a quickly-growing platform for kids’ music and audio.
The partnership kicks off this month with music from Super Simple Songs coming to the Yoto platform. The children’s brand, produced by Toronto-based Skyship Entertainment, has had a partnership with Warner’s Arts Music division since 2020. Super Simple Songs has amassed 38.6 million subscribers and more than 44 billion views on YouTube.
And starting in 2024, some of WMG’s pop, rock and soul artists will be made available on Yoto’s music player for kids. The company will create “cards” – what it calls the cartridges the player uses to play content – from “a carefully selected and curated group” of artists, all of which will be “suitable for young users,” Yoto said in a statement on Thursday (June 8).
Yoto describes its music player as a way to “access the best kids’ audio, without being exposed to ads, unsuitable content or racking up too much screen time.” (The player doesn’t have a screen, just a speaker.)
The company says its approach to kids’ entertainment is inspired by the Montessori approach to education, which eschews traditional, formal education in favor of individualized lesson plans that follow a child’s natural interests and pace of development.
“We’re delighted to be partnering with Yoto to bring some carefully curated music to its huge and growing audience of young people. Starting with our children’s classics from Super Simple Songs and expanding to some of the highlights of our wider catalog, we’ll work together to open new horizons for Yoto’s young users,” Kevin Gore, WMG’s President, Global Catalog, said in a statement.
Yoto Co-founder and CEO Ben Drury said: “Music plays a powerful role in children’s development, from helping develop speech and language to helping them understand the world around them. We’re delighted to be partnering with Warner Music Group to bring these legendary kids’ music brands to Yoto.”
“The wonderful thing about music and kids is that it’s never passive,” added Dom Hodge, Yoto’s Head of Music and Sound. “Singing, moving and playing along are always part of how they enjoy music and we’re so excited to be working with Warner Music Group to bring these Yoto Cards to market.”
For WMG, the deal represents the latest in a line of partnerships in the children’s music space. Warner launched its Arts Music division in 2017, with Gore as the division’s President, aiming to build a home for music in the classical, jazz, musical theater, film score and children’s music genres.
“Music plays a powerful role in children’s development, from helping develop speech and language to helping them understand the world around them.”
Ben Drury, Yoto
In 2018, the Arts Music division signed a deal with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization that produces the long-running Sesame Street TV show, to re-launch Sesame Street Records in the US and Canada.
As a result of that deal, a large catalog of Sesame Street recordings became available for download and streaming. The deal also included a variety of new compilation titles available on vinyl and CD.
The following year, WMG Music Arts and Warner Chappell Music teamed up with Build-a-Bear, the company behind the popular customizable teddy bears, to launch Build-a-Bear Records.
Also in 2019, WMG teamed up with TV production company Cloudco Entertainment to form an imprint for music from Holly Hobbie, the Hulu live-action kids’ show.
“Starting with our children’s classics from Super Simple Songs and expanding to some of the highlights of our wider catalog, we’ll work together to open new horizons for Yoto’s young users.”
Kevin Gore, Warner Music Group
WMG followed that up in 2020 with a deal with Fred Rogers Productions, the company behind Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the popular animated successor to the legendary kids’ show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
The deal saw music from the show become available on a variety of digital services in the US and around the world.
Also in 2020, Warner’s Arts Music division inked a deal with toy maker Mattel, under which Warner became the exclusive distributor of more than 1,000 songs from Mattel brands such as American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels and Thomas & Friends.
Yoto launched its first-generation player on Kickstarter in 2019, which promptly sold out. The second-generation player was released in 2020, and sales of that player “shot through the roof” during the pandemic, the company says. The Yoto Mini, a portable version of the player, launched in late 2021, and the third-generation player, which features more memory and a longer battery life, will be released on June 15.
The third-gen player will retail for $119.99 in the US, and £99.99 in the UK.Music Business Worldwide