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iHeart Media to stage Charlie Puth Fortnite gig

iHeartMedia is to launch its new metaverse destination iHeartLand inside the video game Fortnite with a concert by Charlie Puth.

Puth will deliver a two-part performance at iHeartLand’s “first-of-its-kind” virtual entertainment venue State Farm Park at 7pm ET on 9 September, followed by an album release party in celebration of his upcoming LP, CHARLIE.

The American singer-songwriter will share new music from the record and host an interactive game designed to test fan knowledge in the run-up to the show, which will mark Puth’s first concert in the metaverse.

Built using Fortnite’s Creative toolset, State Farm Park in iHeartLand will host 20 major events across the music and podcasting space over the next year, including unique artist-fan experiences that can be unlocked through gameplay.

“Our goal is to meet audiences where they are – delivering innovative, incredible programming to constantly challenge ourselves to take entertainment to the next level,” says Conal Byrne, CEO of the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. “iHeartLand will feature a full calendar of music and podcast performances at State Farm Park that give fans a chance to play and interact with shows and artists in awesome new ways.”

“This new world allows us to extend the reach of today’s biggest creators, artists and personalities in groundbreaking ways”

iHeartLand will undergo periodic changes and refreshes, including the introduction of new mini-games.

“From interactive performances and intimate backstories to immersive game play, native to the platform – this new world allows us to extend the reach of today’s biggest creators, artists and personalities in groundbreaking ways, and is a big next step for iHeartMedia in expanding our engagement with our users,” adds Byrne.

Since debuting its first in-game concert in 2019, Fortnite developer Epic Games has facilitated events such as Soundwave Series, the Rift Tour with Ariana Grande, Travis Scott’s record-breaking Astronomical shows and gigs by  the likes of Marshmello, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J Balvin.

“What iHeartMedia and the team at Atlas Creative have created is a compelling look at a future of Fortnite where artists and brands can independently and authentically connect with fans in new and persistent ways at scale,” adds Matthew Henick, VP, metaverse development for Epic Games. “We can’t wait for players to experience all of the incredibly ambitious content that iHeartLand has planned in the coming months.”

 


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Pokémon GO announces Ed Sheeran concert

Pokémon Go has announced an exclusive performance from Ed Sheeran, slated to appear in the AR mobile game next week.

Sheeran’s pre-recorded set, which includes hits such as ‘Bad Habits’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’, will be available in the News section of the app from 22–30 November.

The singer’s favourite Pokémon, Squirtle, will also appear in the game, along with branded ‘=’ sweatshirts that players can dress their avatar in.

In-game events have proved to be big business for Niantic, with this year’s Go Fest event reportedly bringing in $21m

In-game events have proved to be big business for Pokémon Go developer Niantic, with this year’s Go Fest event reportedly bringing in around $21 million in revenue over the course of two days, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

With the Ed Sheeran event, Niantic appears to be moving in the same direction as Fortnite and Roblox, which have been leading the way for in-game music events.

Pokémon’s previous in-game music events include a virtual concert headlined by Post Malone, which was part of the franchise’s 25th-anniversary celebrations.

 


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Facebook surges ahead in race to create metaverse

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 people to accelerate its development of a so-called metaverse  – a virtual world in which people can work, game, play and even watch concerts.

The word ‘metaverse’ – made up of the prefix ‘meta’ (meaning beyond) and the stem ‘verse’ (a back-formation from “universe”) – is typically used to describe the future iteration of the internet, made up of permanent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.

Using technologies like virtual and augmented reality, Facebook says it hopes to create a greater sense of “virtual presence” in the metaverse that will “mimic the experience of interacting in person”.

Facebook has made building the metaverse one of its priorities, investing in virtual reality through its Oculus headsets and building VR apps for social hangouts and for the workplace.

In 2018, the tech giant expanded into VR live events, including concerts, with the launch of its social events app Oculus Venues.

Facebook invested $50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”

The app enabled users of its Oculus Go and Gear VR headsets to watch live music and sports alongside other virtual-reality avatars.

In 2020, Occulus partnered with artist-owned streaming platform Tidal to bring a series of exclusive and intimate live performances that can be streamed in virtual reality to fans’ homes.

More recently it invested $50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”.

However, Facebook claims the metaverse “won’t be built overnight by a single company” and has promised to collaborate.

A number of massive tech-centric companies that have vested interests in music, such as Tencent and Alibaba, are also investigating how to build a metaverse.

Roblox’s global head of music told IQ in January that he thinks the metaverse will be bigger than the internet and mobile

Over the course of several years, Epic Games has been expanding its hugely popular online multiplayer game Fortnite to host virtual concerts and brand events within its own virtual world.

Ariana Grande, MarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin are among the artists that have delivered virtual concerts within the game.

Other games are getting closer to a metaverse idea, too. Roblox, for example, is an online community where people come together to play, create and explore millions of 3D virtual worlds together with their friends.

The online gaming platform has also incorporated virtual concerts into its offering with performances from the likes of  Royal Blood and Lil Nas X and Twenty One Pilots.

Roblox’s global head of music, Jon Vlassopulos, told IQ in January that he thinks the metaverse will be bigger than the internet and mobile.

Startup companies including Stage11, AmazeVR, Stageverse and Sensorium have also announced ambitions to develop a metaverse.

 


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Fortnite plans virtual concerts for new Soundwave Series

Epic Games has announced the next set of immersive virtual performances coming to Fortnite, under the banner ‘Soundwave Series’.

The series will kick off on 1 October with Egyptian musician Mohamed Hamaki, who has previously been featured on Fortnite Radio.

Hamaki’s show will repeat non-stop for 48 hours so that so it can be accessed at any time over the period. The experience will feature the first performance of his new song ‘Leilt Elomr‘ (‘the night of the order’) and a special emote created just for the first show of the Soundwave Series.

Other acts slated to perform during the Soundwave Series include Australian singer-songwriter Tones And I, Brazilian rapper Emicida, Japanese pop artist and music producer Gen Hoshino, and French-Malian singer Aya Nakamura.

“The Soundwave Series will introduce incredible crossover artists from around the world to millions of new fans”

“Music transcends any language, and has been a beloved part of Fortnite’s journey since our first in-game concert in 2019,” says Nate Nanzer, VP of global partnerships at Epic Games.

“The Soundwave Series continues that legacy and will introduce incredible crossover artists from around the world to millions of new fans inside Fortnite Creative, where there are virtually no limits on what can be designed by our community.”

The Soundwave Series builds on the success of Fortnite‘s recent Rift Tour with Ariana Grande, as well as Travis Scott’s record-breaking Astronomical concerts.

MarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin have also delivered virtual concerts in Fortnite.

 


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Ariana Grande to headline Fortnite’s Rift Tour

Ariana Grande will be the next artist to perform an in-game concert for the hugely popular multiplayer video game, Fortnite.

The Grammy award-winning artist is set to headline the forthcoming Rift Tour, a virtual ‘musical experience’ that will take place within the online game.

The Rift Tour comprises five shows in early August: Friday 6 August at 18:00 ET, Saturday 7 August at 14:00 ET and Sunday 6 August at 00:00 ET, 10:00 ET and 18:00 ET.

“Working with Epic and the Fortnite team to bring my music to life inside the game has been so fun and such an honour,” says Grande. “I can’t wait to join my fans and see all of your reactions to such an unforgettable, magical journey to new realities.”

“Fortnite is a place for the imagination and the impossible”

Fortnite is a place for the imagination and the impossible. With the Rift Tour, we’re bringing a musical journey to life that players can experience, feel, and join alongside their friends,” says Phil Rampulla, head of brand for Fortnite developer Epic Games.

“We’re so grateful to have an iconic superstar like Ariana Grande and her team join us for a musical experience at metaverse scale, and for players and fans alike to experience the Rift Tour!”

Republic Records-signed Ariana Grande is the latest artist to perform within Fortnite, after the likes of Marshmello, Travis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin.

The singer’s performance follows a virtual show at the in-game O2 in June, which was performed by the UK act Easy Life.

The iconic London venue became the first real-world arena to get its own venue in Fortnite. 

Watch a teaser for Ariana Grande’s appearance on the Rift Tour below.


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The O2 London recreated in Fortnite

The O2 is set to become the first real-world arena to get its own venue in Fortnite, with players now able to explore the iconic London venue ahead of an in-game performance by UK act Easy Life this Thursday.

Created in Fortnite Creative, the Minecraft-like sandbox game within Fortnite proper, the virtual O2 is a faithful recreation from the outside, while inside players can discover “exciting gameplay additions” including hidden rooms, backstage areas and a new take on the O2’s bar, the O2 Blueroom.

Island Records-signed Easy Life’s in-game performance will available to watch from this Thursday (24 June) at 20.30 BST until 23.59 BST on Sunday 27 June. The show will then be posted to Easy Life’s YouTube channel from Monday 28 June.

The O2 in Fortnite Creative

Described as an “interactive music experience” rather than a virtual concert, the show promises an ever-changing virtual world influenced by Easy Life’s music and lyrics. During the event, Fortnite players will be transported to six unique areas, each inspired by a different track from Life’s a Beach, the band’s debut album.

The Leicester five-piece are the first British band to play a show in Fortnite, the hugely popular multiplayer video game, following the likes of Marshmello, Travis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5 and J. Balvin.

Simon Valcarcel, head of brand and consumer marketing communications for O2, the O2’s naming sponsor, says: “We couldn’t be prouder to work alongside both Island Records and Epic Games to bring such an incredible experience to O2 customers and music fans all over the world via Fortnite Creative.

“We were thrilled when we were approached with the idea to bring the O2 to Fortnite”

“O2 has a rich heritage in music and we’re committed to providing music fans with unique experiences so it’s only fitting that we’re bringing the world’s most popular entertainment venue into the world’s biggest game. We know how much everyone – us included – has missed going to gigs so we’re excited to bring the UK’s hottest up-and-coming band to music fans globally through Fortnite Creative.”

Nate Nanzer, head of global partnerships for Fortnite developer Epic Games, adds: “We were thrilled when we were approached with the idea to bring the O2, one of the most iconic entertainment venues on the planet, to Fortnite Creative. We’re always looking for exciting and authentic experiences to bring to our players, and we can’t wait for them to get hands-on with this interactive musical journey.

“We’re excited to have the UK’s break-out band, Easy Life, perform in the game and we think our players are really going to love exploring all that the O2 has to offer in Fortnite Creative over the next week.”

 


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Virtual concert venues top pocket money charts

Roblox and Fortnite, the videogaming phenomena which have hosted some of the biggest virtual concerts to date, have topped a survey of the main ways UK children and teens spend their pocket money.

The 2020 edition of the annual Pocket Money Index found Roblox and Fortnite, which placed first and second respectively, dominating the spending charts as people spent more time at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Minecraft, which has also hosted several music festivals and concerts, placed eighth, while games consoles Xbox and PlayStation were seventh and ninth, respectively.

The pair, whose virtual concert highlights include Lil Nas X (Roblox), Travis Scott (Fortnite) and Marshmello (Fortnite), each rose four places compared to 2019, dethroning books and magazines (RIP) and sweets and chocolate (say it ain’t so!) from the top two spots.

“The pandemic has shifted our spending online, and that’s seen with kids’ spending habits, too”

Roblox and Fortnite were also respectively third and fourth in the top things 4–14-year-olds save their allowance for, behind only Lego and a smartphone.

“The pandemic has shifted our spending online, and that’s seen here with kids’ spending habits, too,” explains Will Carmichael, CEO of Roostermoney, which compiles the Pocket Money Index.

IQ calculated last summer that artists can reach an audience of least 750 million gamers across the top 20 online multiplayer games/platforms alone.

 


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Grand Theft Auto Online to open virtual nightclub

Renowned open-world crime game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) Online is opening a virtual nightclub that will host residencies from ‘a new wave of world-class DJs’.

The game’s developer Rockstar Games is following in the footsteps of online gaming platforms Roblox and Fornite, which have already developed virtual entertainment spaces and produced hugely successful in-game concerts.

GTA’s virtual entertainment space, dubbed The Music Locker, is being designed to look like a real music venue, located beneath The Diamond in-game casino and resort, while the acts will appear as their own custom avatars.

The Music Locker has already announced Detroit-based producer Moodymann, Berlin collective Keinemusik and UK underground star Palms Trax for residencies.

“The Music Locker’s impeccable sound system will be ready to deliver basslines directly to your midsection”

“If you’re ready to grab some drinks, find a partner and dance the night away, The Music Locker is the place to go, with stunning visuals and an impeccable sound system ready to deliver basslines directly to your midsection,” says Rockstar Games.

Though The Music Locker is GTA’s first foray into in-game concerts, the franchise has always secured high-profile artists for its in-game radio stations. Producer Flying Lotus was even given his own radio station (FlyLo FM) for 2013’s GTA V.

GTA Online is the online component of GTA V, released in 2013, which is reportedly the best-selling game ever to be released on Sony’s PlayStation 4, selling 130 million copies as of March 2020.

GTA’s reach could make The Music Locker a real contender in the world of in-game concerts, which has seen notable shows from Lil Nas X in Roblox; Travis Scott, Marshmello and J Balvin in Fortnite; Gorillaz and Beck in Animal Crossing and several festivals in Minecraft, as well as Korn in AdventureQuest and the Offspring in World of Tanks during 2019.

 


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J Balvin to headline Fortnite’s in-game Halloween event

Reggaeton superstar J Balvin is set to deliver a special performance as part of Fortnite’s Halloween-themed event, Fortnitemares 2020: Midas’ Revenge.

The online video game, developed by Epic Games, hosts Fortnitemares every spooky season in the free-to-play Battle Royale mode in which weapons are disabled.

Each year, players have the chance to complete Fortnitemares challenges which provide players with season XP and different cosmetics including sprays and loading screens.

This year’s Fortnitemares will take place between 21 October and 3 November and will feature a performance from J Balvin on Battle Royale’s main stage on Halloween.

The Afterlife Party will take place on 31 October at 9 pm ET, with rebroadcasts available to watch the next day on main stage or with friends on Houseparty, the group video app.

Since launching last year, Fortnite Battle Royale has become the most successful free-to-play video game of all time

Users who attend any of the Afterlife Party showings in a Party Trooper outfit, available to buy in the item shop, will unlock an exclusive J Balvin style.

Fans can also drop into Fornite Creative from 25 October to 31 October to visit La Familia, an island made by community members Iscariote and Davidpkami where you can play minigames based on songs from J Balvin’s latest album.

Fortnite hosted its first-ever in-game concert with RCA-signed DJ Marshmello in February – a ten-minute show which reportedly became the most-attended ‘concert’ in history to date, with more than ten million people tuning in.

Since launching last year, Fortnite Battle Royale has become the most successful free-to-play video game of all time, pushing developer Epic Games’ valuation to nearly US$15bn as the number of Fortnite players – most of whom pay real money (or ask their parents) to buy in-game skins and other cosmetic items – soars over 200 million.

In May 2020, Epic announced that Fortnite had 350 million registered accounts with players spending 3.3 billion hours in-game during the month of April 2020.

 


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Gaming platform Roblox steps up interest in music

Game creation platform Roblox has announced a partnership with Marshmello label Monstercat and appointed a global head of music, as the company makes moves in the music space.

In April, Roblox, a tween-friendly virtual gaming/social media platform, became the latest gaming platform to create a virtual concert venue, hosting an in-game live stream of the Lady Gaga-curated benefit concert One World: Together at Home.

Roblox users could complete quests based on the concert and wear free virtual merchandise, such as a caps, headphones and rucksacks, to show support for the event.

The virtual concert was part of Roblox’s growing interaction with the music business, as Jon Vlassopulos, a former director of business development at BMG and founder of Tinder-style swiping music discovery app Fab.fm, heads up music strategy at the company.

The partnership gives Roblox developers access to a new library of music content to use when making games for the platform

Roblox has also recently joined social virtual-reality platform Sansar and video game developer Psyonix in partnering with Canadian indie label Monstercat, which also has its own licensing subscription service to allow game streamers to use its music on YouTube and Twitch.

The partnership gives Roblox developers access to a new library of music content to use when making games for the platform, which is comprised of millions of games built by professional developers and the Roblox user community.

“Proudly announcing our new partnership with Roblox,” reads a post on the Monstercat Twitter page. “Our mission to empower creators continues with access to over 50 tracks, with more music added soon. Can’t wait to see your creations in-game!”

As well as “empowering creators”, the partnership aims to allow artists to use the site as a promotional outlet, targeting Roblox’s 150 million active monthly users.

The potential for crossover between gaming and live music has been exemplified recently by events such as Travis Scott’s ‘Astronomical’ in Fortnite Battle Royale, which drew 27.7m viewers, and Marshmello’s famous record-breaking 2019 in-game appearance, also in Fortnite, with IQ calculating that gamers could represent 750m new live music fans.

 


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