In one of our previous articles, we already covered how a well-planned gaming collab can boost an artist’s social media and streaming stats. During the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020, the digital space provided another advantage: it remained the only one available to set music events in. Fortnite, the free-to-play titan of the industry, has around 350M players alone, an audience already exceeding the entire US population. Add to that the $1.8B in revenue the platform made in 2019 and it’s no wonder that forward-thinking artists, labels and brands are turning their creative efforts (and budgets) towards the various possibilities of gaming collabs.
On 24 April 2020, Travis Scott held a record-breaking event-slash-song launch that brought an audience of over 12.3M (beating Marshmello by almost 2M) to his Fortnite stage. Well, “stage” is a bit of an understatement, as Scott’s “Astronomical” extravaganza saw him take over the entire universe and stand ten stories high.
While the turnout was definitely helped by the worldwide lockdown conditions (some even estimate that the performance brought over 27M new players to Fortnite), Scott’s social media and streaming stats continued soaring well beyond the event. At the time of writing, the event video has already been viewed over 62M times on YouTube (again beating Marshmello’s triumph by several million), while the newly-released, Fortnite-themed video for “The Scotts” yielded an additional 44M views.
In just four weeks, between 20 April and 18 May 2020, Scott also scored over 61k new SoundCloud followers (25k just in the week of the event!), gained 108k new Deezer followers, and further improved his already impressive fanbase engagement (81.4M more likes, views and plays). See the most exceptional stats below.
But Travis Scott’s set wasn’t the only notable experiment in “Fortnite music”. In May 2020, Fortnite also introduced a “no gun Party mode”, which removes weapons and buildings – two key Fortnite elements, mind you – and replaces them with options to chill out and listen to some music. The first ones to play live in-game concerts were Diplo and Major Lazer (who returned after their successful 2019 collab), Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, and Dillon Francis. Despite the novelty of this non-violent concept, none of these sets raised as much noise as Travis Scott’s epic performance just days prior.
Following the coronavirus shakeup, it seems essential that the gaming and music industry rethink existing business and promotional models.
Twitch, Fortnite, Minecraft and other spaces are steadily outgrowing their gaming origins and becoming entertainment platforms in their own right – and with that, opening up new possibilities for promotion and PR. Consider Drake, who promoted his new track “Tootsie Slide” with a Fortnite dance move and TikTok choreography in May 2020. Or Major Lazer, who immediately followed their 2019 Fortnite premiere by securing an appearance on the soundtrack of “Death Stranding”, one of the most highly anticipated games of 2019. Or Solomun, who’s been leading a parallel career as a Grand Theft Auto character for several years now.
And let’s not forget that Travis Scott’s “Astronomical” stint came not only with cosmetics, clothing and merch available for purchase (a $65 branded Nerf gun, or a $75 action figure, for example) – his gigantic avatar also wore the Air Jordans he designed in partnership with Nike, basically creating billboard-sized product placement.
Some experts claim Scott’s marketing efforts are not unlike squeezing an entire concert tour into 10 minutes online.
It’s worth pointing out that bringing “Astronomical” to life was an exceptional effort that took months of prep and most likely a budget that matches the title. Yet it was a challenge well worth taking – today, simply googling “Travis Scott Fortnite” yields over 22M results, meaning that combined with in-game purchases and merch revenue, the event is bound to bring profits to everyone involved in the long run.
Last but not least, there’s the gig and touring part of the equation. If 2020 was a catastrophic year for music festivals, the virtual realm still offers plenty of space. While many musicians moved their gigs to Twitch or organized YouTube livestreams, Minecraft also hosted a couple of outstanding events. One of the most recent ones was “Square Garden”, a virtual charity music festival headlined by 100 gecs and Charli XCX, which reportedly raised more than $50,000 for a hunger-relief nonprofit through donations, VIP passes, and merch.
Both the time and the technology seem perfect for a new chapter in music promotion. We’re more than excited to see what comes next.
Cover photo: Jordan Hughes/Wireless Festival 2019
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