While the idea of performing to thousands may be dream for many artists, DJ Marshmello took things to an even higher level, with a recent in-game Fortnite concert which drew in millions of viewers. Virtual concerts may not be a new thing, but technology and gaming culture have developed to a point where such performances offer a whole host of exciting opportunities for fans and artists alike.
Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0
For a music artist, playing in front of thousands represents at the very least, a minor success. While superstars regularly play to tens of thousands and festivals can top that by a factor of 10, how does appearing before millions sound? No, I’m not referring to the Super Bowl halftime show but the recent in-game performance given by DJ Marshmello on Fortnite.
A virtual appearance isn’t particularly new, as it’s been done a decade ago on Second Life, but the technology is now to the point where an interactive experience can be had for the user, and the artist is exposed to way more potential fans that might not have ever been aware of his or her existence before.
Case in point, Marshmello played to almost 10 million(!) concurrent users, whose avatars were able to attend the concert and dance at the game’s Pleasant Park this past February 2nd. Of course this was a big score for the game, but what about the artist?
It’s a home run there as well, as Billboard reported that his streaming numbers had increased by as much as 24,000% on some songs (that’s no misprint). In fact, the smallest increase was only 93%, with most songs in the hundreds. No word on the merch sales yet, but by every measure you’d have to call this a huge win.
The fact of the matter is that the gaming industry is far larger than the music industry, with Fortnite’s $2.4 billion in revenue by itself more than Sony Music’s during the same time period.
Now you would think that the Marshmello/Fortnite success would be lighting up the executive offices of record labels everywhere, and maybe it is. But you can’t trust that the older record execs that run the business are even aware of the game unless they have kids that are into it. That said, artist managers and agents are somewhat more in touch with what’s happening on the ground so you’d expect them to be thinking about how to insert their artists into similar situations in the future.
Easier said than done, though. Marshmello is a faceless, anonymous artist who can easily adapt to an avatar without worrying about violating his brand or image. He’s also a DJ who can easily present his music virtually thanks to the singular nature of the presentation. Aside from a solo act like Ed Sheeran, it may prove to be a lot more difficult to pull off for an artist noted for big concert production and lots of dancing, or a band with multiple players. The good part is that the music could be done under the controlled conditions of a studio so it might be presented acceptably, but the actual in-game experience may not achieve the same results. In other words, it’s the perfect environment for electronic music.
The music industry has wanted to gamify its products for some time but has never been able to come with a way that actually had any traction. The Marshmello/Fortnite success points the way to a new avenue of exposure that could change how artists are presented, and their works monetized, in the future.
[Photo: The Come Up Show]