Written by Camden Cassels
This past week, Marshmello made history with the first ever virtual concert in the online video game Fortnite. In ten minutes, the superstar producer Marshmello reached more people than the Super Bowl Halftime Show. What does this mean for the future of concerts? How can this virtual reality takeover be repeated? What goes into planning a groundbreaking event like this? Here’s what you need to know:
On February 2nd, Marshmello and the world’s most popular video game, Fortnite, made history and likely created a brand new partnership between the music and gaming worlds. At 2 pm, over 10 million people logged into Fortnite to virtually attend a Marshmello DJ set that lasted just over 10 minutes. This was the first time an event like this had been conducted within the game, and it will almost certainly not be the last.
Fortnite players were made aware of the event far in advance, through social media platforms and even in-game fliers. When players signed into the game at the designated concert time, they were given a special “Showtime” game option that took groups of 60 players to a digital concert stage.
With weapons disabled, players were unable to harm one another and knock each other out of the concert. Instead, a communal collection of players were gathered to peacefully enjoy a concert from Marshmello, who was portrayed as a special character with his trademark marshmallow-shaped helmet.
Throughout the 10-minute set, Marshmello played various hits all while talking to the virtual crowd, just like he would during a live set at a regular venue. He told fans to perform certain dances with their characters during certain songs, and during his song, “Fly,” the Fortnite developers even programmed all the players to soar dozens of feet above the ground, free falling in place. This virtual concert was groundbreaking, setting the stage for a whole new experience for video game enthusiasts.
For gamers, tons of people were able to enjoy their very first concert experience. For those who have never been to a show, they were able to see a world-famous DJ talking to them directly, interact with fans, and virtually enjoy the music with peers. Without having to leave their home or pay money, these gamers were able to transform into live-music fans.
For Marshmello, the benefits are enormous. He was able to play a live set in front of more than 10 million people simultaneously, something way beyond the possibility of a live show. He gained exposure to thousands, maybe millions of people who may have never heard his music without Fortnite. Following the event, his popularity on YouTube, social media, and streaming platforms skyrocketed.
On YouTube alone, Marshmello gained a staggering 699k subscribers in the 24 hours following the show, an 1,800% increase from his normal rate of 37k per day. The YouTube video of the concert has been streamed over 22 million times at the writing of this article. He received 42.8 million additional video views for his other music, a 500% increase from his daily average in January.
Additionally, Marshmello gained 147k Twitter followers in one week, a 2,000% increase from his previous week follower gain of 6,800. His mentions on Twitter also rose by 1,000% the next week, going from 4,800 mentions to over 57,000.
This type of instant exposure is unprecedented and almost unimaginable. The ripple effect of this increased fanbase is astronomical, with fans streaming more music, purchasing more merchandise, following social media accounts, and likely paying to attend future shows.
All of this comes on top of the upfront deal Marshmello struck with Epic Games. With the unquestionable success of this first concert within Fortnite, it’s likely this form of collaboration will be repeated with other artists. The line of eager producers will be out the door to amass an exposure increase similar to Marshmello.
On top of the heightened exposure, the virtual concert also allows artists to explore creative freedom that would be impossible in a physical setting. During Marshmello’s set, dancing robotic figures flew a hundred feet through the air. Concert-goers flew along with these figures.
With virtual pyrotechnics and massive smiley beach balls tumbling through the crowd, there was no need for safety clearances. Light shows impossible to create in a real-life venue came to life in Marshmello's Fortnite set. There was also no need to worry about the weather and no need for a concert venue staff or production crew. With seemingly infinite ideas to explore, a virtual show will allow artists to expand beyond the limits of a physical venue
The Marshmello concert within Fortnite was groundbreaking, to say the least, and we’ll likely see another massive concert rollout in the near future. Other artists will attempt to replicate the huge success for their own career, and other virtual companies and video games will likely try to recreate their own versions of these online virtual shows. As we become more comfortable experiencing events within a digital world, this type of concert has a chance to overtake the mainstream.