Warped was started in 1994 by Kevin Lyman, Creative Artists Agency, and the law firm of Codikow, Carrol, Guido and Groffman. Since that time, the annual tour has become a major lifestyle event and marketing dream. It has also stayed true to its independent roots, and Lyman said the deal is structured to maintain the tour’s street cred.

“Creative control, booking, production, all of that is still run by (CAA booking agent) Darryl Eaton and myself,” Lyman said. “The deal took seven months to complete. It took that long to make sure the integrity of the tour would be preserved. The profit/loss margins are so small, I wanted to make sure we went with a company that wouldn’t come in, look at the finances, and cut out all the stuff I put in there for creative reasons.”

Lyman is considered a punk rock-style pioneer of live event production and marketing, and an unlikely corporate cog. So, it’s understandable why the deal with Launch maintains the existing Warped team.

Considering how the tour has grown every year since its inception, it’s also easy to see how Lyman and his cohorts could appreciate some financial backing.

“I started thinking, ‘Who’s going to do this tour once we don’t,'” Lyman told Pollstar. “I want to see this vision go on, but I was getting to the end of my rope with the finances. We’re doing 38 bands for $23 this summer. Maybe we don’t need that many bands, but I feel that we’ve created this thing and I want to use it to give these bands an opportunity.”

The opportunity to be on the Warped Tour has benefitted a number of bands that went on to much bigger things: Sublime, Limp Bizkit, Sugar Ray, Kid Rock, and Blink-182, to name a few.

Launch sees a different kind of opportunity in the tour. Demographically speaking, Warped “appeals to music fans and teens interested in punk, alternative, hip-hop, ska and extreme sports,” according to the company. Launch plans to sell a wide range of sponsorships for both the online and offline components of the Warped Tour franchise, providing partners with a vehicle to reach this influential teen demographic.

Those same teens spend a lot of time cruising Launch’s home turf: the Internet.

Launch will upgrade and broaden warpedtour.com‘s content, making it a year-round portal not only for the tour, but for information on bands, extreme sports and other “youth-oriented activities.”

Warpedtour.com will remain a stand-alone that will be closely connected to Launch.com. In addition, Launch plans to promote Warped ticket sales through direct marketing initiatives using Launch.com’s database of more than 3.5 million registered music fans. By combining online marketing with an on-site presence at the shows, Launch hopes to generate new fans and increase traffic for both Web sites.

“This deal is going to allow us more access to new media and that’s going to allow us to do more creative things,” Lyman said.

Assuming that Launch stays afloat on the tumultuous Nasdaq, it could take the Warped Tour to the next level.

“We’re taking a little break from touring overseas this year to focus on doing a bigger tour here,” Lyman said. “But if we do this right and this relationship goes well, this could be a really cool thing for many years to come. If it goes well, we will go international next year.”