Gaming is big business. No, forget big, it’s an absolute monster. In terms of revenue, the industry already surpassed global movie production and distribution by almost $2B in 2018 and is quickly becoming a leading form of entertainment – just behind Pay TV. There are a reported 2.3B gamers in the world, and, according to research**, just the free-to-play game market is worth almost $88B, amassing 80 % of the entire digital games revenue. Lording over this new virtual frontier is Fortnite.
Looking for a concert venue? Look to gaming.
Fortnite, the free-to-play behemoth, has nearly 250M players, more than 60 % of them under 25 years of age, which means there’s a huge audience out there (equal to two thirds of the entire US population!) that already treats Fortnite like a public social space, a digital venue, if you will, for hanging out, socializing, and having fun after school.
For event organizers, venues of such proportions can be unthinkable, but are very valuable to consider. It’s no wonder that Marshmello’s Fortnite event in February broke all of the records when it comes to concert attendance: 11M attending fans is impossible to fit into any physical venue – but a digital one, sure. Add a well-coordinated PR effort, more than 43M views of the recap video on YouTube, and almost 94M views of the Fortnite collab video playlist (not counting those outside of Marshmello’s channel), and you’ve got yourself the best possible yield out of a 10-minute music set. Especially if it’s a prelude to another collab announcement, this time a more “conventional” one.
The music & gaming combo boosts your social (and bank) status.
Free-to-play doesn’t mean that content can't be monetized. Almost 70 % of Fortnite players reportedly*** spend an average of $85 each by making in-app purchases, such as custom skins, dance moves (emotes), and tools for their characters. This is what Major Lazer went for in their August collab. Instead of repeating Marshmello’s scenario with another live gig, the group remixed two key Fortnite tracks, while players could also buy the band’s exclusive cosmetics and emotes.
This collab was a good move, as earlier in the year, Major Lazer’s social media underwent a bit of revamping after Jillionaire left the group and Ape Drums joined. As the data shows, releasing a new single (which was also a collab, by the way) and tapping into relevant entertainment channels proved effective for the trio in terms of follower growth, boosting their Twitter following in particular. No word yet on the financial outcome, but judging from the in-game item prices that ranged between $15 and $25, and the accompanying media coverage, the crossover was beneficial for both Fortnite and the artists.
2019: The year of collab experiments
Overall, 2019 was an interesting year for music and gaming crossovers. In July, Avenged Sevenfold’s vocalist M. Shadows became a playable character in Call of Duty 4, calling it his personal career highlight. In August, Korn announced their new album by playing a battle concert in AdventureQuest 3D, complete with in-game merch, a virtual meet-and-greet, and performing a new song on a digital stage. And in an even more experimental exercise, Weezer produced a custom Fortnite map back in March that also premiered their upcoming album.
The gaming industry seems essential for the music industry to scale its concerts and rethink existing business and promotional models. Both Marshmello's and Major Lazer's efforts with Fortnite proved to be lucrative, as the former landed a well-paid Las Vegas residency immediately after the collab, and the latter soon announced another gaming venture: working on the highly anticipated Death Stranding soundtrack.
Who says that gaming doesn’t pay the bills?
Cover photo: Daniel Lincoln (Unsplash)
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