There are music concerts held all over the world in unusual places. In Tennessee, USA they have a blues concert in underground caves. In Sweden, they have a show inside a limestone quarry. And California, being California (!), has gigs in a cemetery in Los Angeles. But DJ Marshmello’s new concert venue has definitely taken it to another level – he performed a gig inside the game Fortnite!
Marshmello, whose real name is Christopher Comstock, has already marked himself as being pretty unique by wearing a marshmallow-shaped hat on his head when he is performing. So it is no surprise that when he played a 10-minute set inside the Fortnite game, it became their biggest event. Gamers ‘attended’ the concert through their avatars in the game. For Marshmello it was his biggest audience ever as 10 MILLION people jumped into the game to experience his concert! Social media trackers said he added over 200,000 new followers to his already significant 18 million-plus followers on Instagram. His concerts in the real world also got a huge boost with more people looking for tickets after the virtual show. The Fortnite concert was a stroke of marketing brilliance.
He tweeted that he had created history by performing in the first-ever virtual concert though he had to correct himself later. There have been other virtual concerts before this one. Another popular game, Second Life, has had heavy-weights U2 and the much-acclaimed Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra put on concerts within the game. Minecraft held the huge music Fire festival in 2019. There have been other non-musical events too. Bite Communications hosted a virtual press conference and Second Life has also had a virtual wedding.
These virtual games and platforms have two feature that makes them draw in crowds – they are free, and they are available across devices from mobile phones to various gaming stations. While there may be space for some of these ideas, there is always another opinion about how ‘real’ is ‘virtual’. Does a virtual concert have the same feel as a real one? What about the fun of going with a gang of friends and dancing and singing together? Moreover, there is a constant debate about how violence and the combat-themed game draws in very young viewers.
As Marshmello’s concert proves, there is a definite audience for such events. Is this the future of all things? What next? Virtual schools? Virtual holidays? Virtual workplaces? Who knows? For now, I’m going to have lunch and bite into a very real delicious burger!
Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.