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How Fortnite and Roblox are becoming important marketing tools for the music industry

How Fortnite and Roblox are becoming important marketing tools for the music industry

As platforms such as Fortnite and Roblox become full-service platforms for digital life, the music industry is moving beyond virtual concerts. These days, musicians are integrating more deeply into virtual worlds to promote their album releases and bring in new fans.

Music has been a key element of the metaverse from the start. In 2020, Travis Scott’s virtual concert inside Fortnite was many of its participants’ first introduction to the metaverse concept. But although Scott’s concert reportedly grossed roughly $20 million through in-game item sales, it was a one-off event that was not tied to an album release or marketing campaign. Since the concert, Scott has never returned to Fortnite.

“Those virtual concerts — I believe they’re awesome, but they’re temporary, and it’s a lot of work that goes into something that you can maybe play for a weekend,” said Warner Music Group senior director of metaverse development David Cushman.

Four years later, the virtual music metagame has evolved. Nowadays, the music industry is less satisfied by simply translating physical events such as concerts into virtual worlds. Taking cues from other consumer and entertainment brands, musicians are instead creating custom experiences and integrating themselves more deeply into popular virtual experiences to actively promote new releases.

One such musician is the rapper Don Toliver, who published a custom Fortnite game on June 10 to promote the release of his album “Hardstone Psycho.” The game is currently slated to remain on the platform for at least six months, according to Cushman.

“Coming off of doing a bunch of virtual concerts and seeing a lot of our peers put them together, they’ve all been amazing,” said Atlantic Records svp of artists and repertoire and marketing Joe Khoury, who collaborated with Cushman on the Don Toliver experience. “But I think this was an opportunity for us to find the balance between what satisfies Don’s goals to activate in gaming, but also what satisfies the gamer, and also the fan.”

Thus far, Toliver’s fans have reacted to the Fortnite announcement on social media with surprise and excitement. The album currently sits atop Billboard’s rap and hip-hop charts, selling nearly 80,000 copies in its first week — though it’s unclear how many of these sales were directly driven by the Fortnite experience. At the moment, there is no direct pipeline to bring users from the experience to a place where they can purchase the album.

“We would love to be able to do that,” Cushman said. “I know there’s some policies in place over at Epic [Games] about getting people to jump off-platform, but we were able to put a pop-up on the menu for people who jumped in during launch week that let people know that he had a new album out.”


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