Written by: Joe Bartolotta
It’s no secret that the music industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus, especially live music. With concerts and music festivals canceled across the country, the shutdown is estimated to cost the industry more than $10 billion in sponsorships. However, the industry is fighting back with new ways to monetize music consumption with new and innovative models. Artists are moving to virtual platforms like online video games such as Minecraft and Fortnite to give fans the next best thing to a live concert experience.
Electronic music artists like Marshmello, Steve Aoki, and Deadmau5 were some of the first to tap into this virtual concert market in video games. Following the success of these virtual concerts, artists from other genres began to take notice. Alternative rock band Weezer debuted four tracks exclusively from their new album on Fortnite last year, and more than 12 million users watched rapper Travis Scott’s concert on Fortnite this past March. Artists have even begun coming together to put on virtual music festivals for fans. Later this month, Diplo, Zhu, A-Track and many other artists will be performing at Electric Blockaloo, a virtual music festival taking place on Minecraft. To attend the festival, fans will need to get on an artist’s guest list via a special code that the artists will share.
Other services such as Twitch and IGTV have granted artists the ability to livestream performances directly to their fans. These streaming platforms have also enabled new monetization methods like paid memberships for artists’ channels that give fans early or exclusive access to content. This method also provides new ways for artists to engage with fans through things like virtual gatherings and paid-commenting features, all fostering stronger long-term connections between artists and fans.
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a budding trend of transitioning the live music industry online. As artists continue to figure out ways to monetize online performances using different platforms, we can expect to see virtual concerts become a lasting trend even as the country reopens.