eOne's substantial music division was barely mentioned in Friday's announcement that toymaker Hasbro had acquired the indie entertainment conglomerate for $4 billion in cash. It was a glaring admission, particularly since eOne's music side is said to the largest independent music company in the U.S.
eOne's music division includes 150 artists and record labels including Dualtone, Last Gang, Light Records and Death Row, as well as management, music publishing, and live entertainment divisions.
Let The Jokes Begin
The comic irony of a toy company owning iconic hip hop label Death Row Records - home Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Tupac’s All Eyez Me, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, Dre and Knight’s Above the Rim and more classic 90s West Coast hip-hop - was not lost on pundits and the Twittersphere.
congrats to peppa pig for signing with death row records pic.twitter.com/yrw5rOjjDs— 𝒌𝒊𝒎 💭 (@jjksouIs) August 24, 2019
Hasbro bought Death Row Records?— rj_elyod (@ElyodRj) August 24, 2019
I always suspected this guy was from Compton pic.twitter.com/5FpxP7KppV
What's Next For eOne Music?
The inclusion of a hip-hop heavy music division and the hefty $4 billion all-cash price tag has also led to speculation that Hasbro could offload some of all of the music side of the business to both raise cash and avoid future controversies.
"It’s not hard to see why lyrics from enduring Death Row standards (“if you can’t f**k that day, baby, just lay back, and open your mouth”) aren’t likely to delight the house of My Little Pony and Power Rangers," wrote Tim Ingham in MBW, "so you’d expect Hasbro to offload the rap label to the highest bidder, sharpish."
Multiple sources tell Hypebot that eOne's music division was blindsided by the deal. Staff were told simply to maintain "business as usual."
On the other hand, a toy brand hoping to maintain cultural relevance in 2019 and beyond could be smart to broaden its offering.