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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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Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival to expand for 2021

Grammy award-nominated rapper Travis Scott has announced that his Astroworld Festival will return this year with an expanded format due to ‘overwhelming demand’.

The third edition of Astroworld Festival will take place on 5 and 6 November at NRG Park in Scott’s hometown, Houston, Texas, with a line-up curated by the artist himself.

Scott has revealed that he will be headlining Astroworld Festival 2021, which will adopt the theme ‘Open Your Eyes To A Whole New Universe’, while the full line-up will be announced closer to the time.

The previous two events have sold out before line-ups were revealed.

In 2019 the festival became the largest single-day artist-curated music festival in the country

According to Live Nation, in November 2019, the festival became the largest single-day artist-curated music festival in the country, as well as the largest music festival in Houston as the sold-out event played host to over 50,000 fans.

The festival, which celebrates hip-hop, pop music, has hosted the likes of Post Malone, Rosalia, Pharrell Williams, Da Baby, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, Playboi Carti and Megan Thee Stallion.

Two-day GA passes will be available for purchase beginning next 5 May at 10 am CT on AstroworldFest.com.

A portion of proceeds from Astroworld Festival 2021 will be donated to the festival’s official charity partner, Cactus Jack Foundation, founded by Scott.

The expansion of the festival follows Astronomical, Scott’s record-breaking in-game concert event which took place in Fortnite in April 2020 and attracted more than 12 million players.

 


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Lil Nas X delivers one of the most viewed in-game concerts

Lil Nas X has garnered over 35 million visits for his in-game performance in Roblox, marking a hugely successful debut concert for the online gaming platform.

The double Grammy award-winning rapper behind worldwide smash ‘Old Town Road’ delivered a free-to-access concert experience which was aired three times across the weekend (14 and 15 November).

The in-game performance featured a set of stages inspired by Lil Nas X’s songs and videos – created using the latest shadowing, lighting and physically based rendering (PBR) facial recognition technologies available on the Roblox platform – and was preceded by a Q&A with fans.

The show, which took place in partnership with Nas’s label, Columbia Records, rivalled Travis Scott’s record-breaking in-game concert in Fortnite in April.

The in-game performance featured a set of stages inspired by Lil Nas X’s songs and videos and was preceded by a Q&A

According to developer Epic Games, the premiere of Astronomical drew more than 12 million players and across five shows and two encores – four more showings than Nas’s Roblox concert – is believed to have attracted around 45.8 million viewers.

Scott’s record-breaking feat trumped Marshmello’s 2019 Fortnite concert which saw 10 million players tune in to watch the electronic music star’s in-game performance. Both Fortnite concerts were free to access.

Other notable videogame shows this year include J Balvin in Fortnite, Gorillaz and Beck in Animal Crossing and several festivals in Minecraft, while 2019 saw Korn play AdventureQuest and the Offspring World of Tanks, among others.

While Nas’s concert was Roblox’s first, the platform’s existing moves in the music space include a partnership with dance music label Monstercat and a recent album release party for singer Ava Max which was attended by 1.2m players.

Roblox is a collection of more than 50 million user-created video games (sometimes compared to YouTube, but for games rather than videos). The platform’s popularity has exploded this year, particularly among children, and now boasts more than 150m monthly users.

 


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Music execs invest in virtual concert platform Wave

Mega-manager Scooter Braun is among those to have invested in Wave, a music-tech startup that creates virtual worlds for live concerts.

The Los Angeles-based company recently received $30 million in funding from investors including Superfly co-founder Rick Farman and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. Braun invested via Raised in Space Enterprises, which he launched last year with former BMG president Zach Katz.

The funding round, which was led by venture capitalist firm Maveron, brings Wave’s investment total to $40m.

Wave transforms artists into digital avatars in real-time and casts them onto stages in customised virtual worlds. The company recently announced a concert series, One Wave, with performances from John Legend and Tinashe.

“[This] support shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation”

The funding will be used to create “new virtual environments and formats, and interactive experiences”, such as in-game activations and social experiences, as well as accelerating it expansion into global markets, specifically Japan and China.

According to Wave CEO Adam Arrigo, the new financial support “shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation”.

“I want to work with today’s most forward-thinking leaders in music and technology,” says Braun, who manages acts including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

“The future of the industry depends on it. Adam and his team at Wave are bridging these two very important industries to create transformative experiences for the next generation of concertgoers, with a refreshingly artist-first approach.”

Avatar-based virtual concerts have proved to be an immensely popular format, with digitalised appearances by Marshmello and Travis Scott in Fortnite attracting tens of millions and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic further accelerating the push towards digital forms of ‘live’ entertainment.

 


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Gamers: 750m new live music fans?

Live music professionals who fail to capitalise on the lockdown-era boom in videogaming will miss out on a confirmed audience of more than three quarters of a billion potential fans, new analysis of player numbers for some of the biggest online games reveals.

A total of 758.5 million people – more than live in Europe, and some 2.5 times the population of the US – regularly play one or more of the 20 most popular online multiplayer video games for which there is recent, reliable data on active users, according to IQ analysis.

Gaming is thriving during the Covid-19 crisis, with firms such as Epic Games, the company behind the Fortnite phenomenon, and Tencent, the Chinese publisher of hit multiplayer titles League of Legends and Honor of Kings, seeing sales soaring while consumers worldwide remain stuck at home.

Especially interesting for the concert industry is how successfully the virtual worlds of FortniteMinecraft and other online games lend themselves to live performance, as well as the apparent receptiveness of those games’ existing audiences to live music content. For comparison, One World: Together at Home – aka the star-studded, Taylor Swift-headlined virtual Live Aid – was watched by 20.7m people in the US; the figure for Travis Scott’s 20-minute ‘Astronomical’ event in Fortnite Battle Royale (albeit globally) was 27.7m.

Estimates of the number of videogamers worldwide range from 877m to 2.7bn

Before we continue, a note on IQ’s numbers: the 758.5m figure includes only active users. so while EA’s Apex Legends, for example, has been played by at least 70m people on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the only available data on monthly active users (MAU) shows just shy of 7m playing regularly on console, which is the figure IQ has used. Similarly, Epic Games does not share data on active Fortnite users, so IQ has used the 27.7m who turned out for Travis Scott, even though the real number is far higher.

This, combined with the choice to limit the research to 20 games, means the aforementioned three quarters of a billion is a conservative estimate – with the actual total likely far higher. (Estimates of the number of videogamers worldwide range from around 877m for online gamers only to 2.7bn in total, including those who play single-player titles, casual mobile games and others).

Videogame concerts, it should be noted, are nothing new: Second Life, the forerunner of event-focused video game-cum-virtual hangout Sansar, hosted what was billed as the world’s first virtual gig in 2007, with Duran Duran, Suzanne Vega and, most famously, U2, also performing as virtual avatars during the game’s late-2000s heyday.

However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the push towards digital forms of ‘live’ entertainment, with Travis Scott’s spectacular (albeit prerecorded) show in Fortnite in April and upcoming Diplo-headlined festival Electric Blockaloo in Minecraft among recent high-profile virtual events capitalising on the influx of new gamers.

A number of other multiplayer titles are nipping at Minecraft’s heels

Mojang Studios’ Minecraft, which launched in 2011, is both the best-selling video game of all time, with 200m copies shipped, and the most popular online game, with 126m monthly active users as of 18 May. It hosted its first music festival in 2016, and has held several more in the years since, including Fire Festival in January 2019 and the recent Block by Blockwest, with Pussy Riot, Idles and Sports Team.

However, Minecraft’s status as top dog of the notoriously fickle online gaming world is by no means secure, with a number of other multiplayer titles – such as tween-friendly create-your-own-game platform Roblox (115m MAU), esports favourite League of Legends (100m MAU) and two Chinese games, Fortnite-style mobile battle royale Free Fire (80m daily users) and blatant Minecraft knock-off Mini World: Block Art (80m MAU) – already nipping at its heels.

To date, none of those games have hosted a large-scale, artist-backed live music experience akin to Travis Scott or Marshmello in Fortnite – and the same is true of Fortnite’s battle-royale arch-rival, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), which has 55m active daily users excluding China according to developer PUBG Corporation.

Other as-yet untapped videogame phenomena include another free-to-play battle royale, Call of Duty: Warzone, which has been played by 60m people since its launch in March; mobile strategy game Teamfight Tactics, spun off from League of Legends by developer Riot Games, which had 33m active users as of September; and first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, another game played as a competitive esport, which recorded over 26m players in April.

“Going forward, there will be more partnerships with the wider entertainment industry”

Given Fortnite’s success, it seems likely the next major in-game musical performance will be in a similar battle royale-type title; DJ Deadmau5, who recently performed in Fortnite’s new combat-free Party Royale mode, is known to be a PUBG player, while Taylor Kurosaki of developer Infinity Ward has suggested live events could be held in Call of Duty: Warzone in future.

What the future has in store for digital live performance – whether consumers will ever flock en masse to concerts in video games or virtual-reality worlds, or if ‘simple’ livestreamed video will suffice – only time will tell. What is certain, however, is that music and other traditional entertainment businesses, keen to claim their slice of the US$160bn global videogame market, will seek increasingly to partner with gaming companies in the years ahead, according to Stefan Hall of the World Economic Forum.

“Going forward, there will be more partnerships with the wider entertainment industry, as media companies seek to take advantage of the momentum gaming has produced,” says Hall, who also highlights recent reports linking Japanese tech giant Sony with efforts to improve the VR content, including concerts, available for its upcoming PlayStation 5 console as proof of the growing power of virtual experiences.

The latest IQ Focus session, The Innovators, will discuss the growth of videogaming, virtual worlds, 3D venues, livestreaming and more. Featuring Sheri Bryant, president of Sansar, alongside other technological innovators, the panel takes place tomorrow (27 May) at 4pm UK time on Facebook and YouTube:

Innovators take the virtual stage for IQ Focus panel


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Diplo to perform in 60-hour Minecraft music festival

Virtual dance music festival Electric Blockaloo, due to take place in Minecraft in June, has the potential to become the biggest music event ever, as the game’s 112 million active monthly users are invited to attend the three-day festival.

Electronic music promoter Rave Family today (21 May) revealed the first wave of acts performing at the in-game festival from 25 to 28 June, which includes Diplo, Tokimonsta, Jamie Jones and Maceo Plex over the 60-hour event.

Electric Blockaloo is the first in a series of virtual dance music events produced by Rave Family, as the promoter looks to replicate the success of other in-game shows.

Selling more than 200 million copies since being released in 2011, Minecraft has over 40% more monthly users than free-to-play online shooter Fortnite (78.3m), which has hosted record-breaking concerts by rapper Travis Scott and EDM star Marshemello, indicating a potential to draw yet more viewers (although fans did not need to pay to attend the Fortnite shows).

Minecraft first hosted a music event in 2016, and has since provided the setting for virtual festival Fire Festival and, more recently, charity events Block By Blockwest, featuring Pussy Riot, Idles and Sports Team, and Square Garden, with 100 Gecs and Charli XCX.

Artists playing at Electric Blockaloo will be supplied with a unique code to send to fans via a link. The code will give fans access to the Rave Family club, from where players pay an entry fee – either general admission or VIP – to get access to artist-curated Minecraft servers, Discord channels, special streams and releases.

Acts will receive a portion of the revenue generated by fans who followed their link.

“Electric Blockaloo is a place where artists and fans can come together, create shared musical experiences, and reconnect”

All of Minecraft users can sign up to attend, whereas Minecraft laymen can view the festival on the club website via artist livestreams.

The Rave Family training camp will be available to ticketholders in the run up to the festival, for festivals fan unfamiliar with Minecraft.

Electric Blockaloo will be accessible on desktop, mobile, Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and VR.

Rave Family, which was founded by tech and investment veteran Jackie McGuire, has previously provided infrastructure support for festivals including Electric Daisy Carnival, Electric Forest and Imagine.

“Everyone asked us, ‘What’s the new normal?’ That normal is one without large festivals for the foreseeable future,” comments McGuire. “Electric Blockaloo is a place where artists and fans can come together, create shared musical experiences, and reconnect with each other in an immersive way.”

A portion of each ticket sale for electric Blockaloo will go to Bye Bye Plastic, a charity that aims to eliminate single-use plastic from(non-virtual) music festivals by 2025.

Electric Blockaloo will take place daily from 25 to 28 June from 10 a.m. EST to 6 a.m. More information is available here.


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Record 12m tune into Travis Scott Fortnite concerts

More than 12 million Fortnite players participated in the premiere of Travis Scott’s Astronomical, the online shooter’s second major in-game concert event, developer Epic Games has revealed.

Announced earlier this week, Astronomical comprises five ‘tour’ dates, with two encore performances (at 3pm and 10pm GMT on Saturday 25 April) still to go at press time. The pre-recorded 10-minute performance – which saw a digital avatar of Scott perform ‘Highest in the Room’, ‘Sicko Mode’ and new song ‘The Scotts’ – won praise from players for its psychedelic visuals, which included an exploding stage and Scott’s avatar appearing as a giant bestriding the game’s scenery, as well as an astronaut and a cyborg.

After the show, Scott tweeted: “Honestly, today was one of the most inspiring days. Love every single one of you guys.”

The show’s visuals included an exploding stage and Scott’s avatar appearing as a giant bestriding the game’s scenery

In addition to the ten-minute performance, players who saw at least one Astronomical show will a unique in-game item, the Astroworld Cyclone Glider, with Travis Scott-themed outfits and ‘skins’ additionally available to purchase.

The 12.3m people who attended Scott’s show exceeds the 10m concurrent players who are believed to have attended the first in-game Fortnite concert, by EDM DJ Marshmello, last February.

global gaming phenomenon, the candy coloured, tween-friendly multiplayer shooter has more than 250 million registered players, with a peak of more than 75m monthly active users.

As IQ reported in March, the Marshmello show opened the floodgates for live music in gaming, with rock bands Korn (in AdventureQuest) and the Offspring (in World of Tanks), DJs Ekali (in Minecraft), Reggie Watts and Blasterjaxx and EDM label Monstercat (in Sansar) among those to have organised large virtual concerts since.

 


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Travis Scott announces Fortnite tour

American rapper Travis Scott will be hoping to recreate the success of Marshmello’s paradigm-shifting 2019 Fortnite debut when he plays his first shows in the online battle royale later this week.

Billed as a “one-of-a-kind musical journey”, Astronomical will see Scott perform five shows – at 12am and 3pm BST on Friday 24 April, and 5am, 4pm and 11pm BST on Saturday 25 April – in a new area “built from the ground up” in Fortnite.

Players who see at least one Astronomical event will receive a unique in-game item, the Astroworld Cyclone Glider, while Travis Scott-themed outfits and emotes will be available to purchase from 21 April.

Players who see at least one Astronomical event will receive a unique in-game item

Some ten million concurrent players are believed to have attended the first in-game Fortnite concert, by EDM DJ Marshmello, last February.

A global gaming phenomenon, the candy coloured, popular-with-tweens multiplayer shooter has more than 250 million registered players, with a peak of more than 75m monthly active users.

As IQ reported in March, the Marshmello show opened the floodgates for live music in gaming, with rock bands Korn (in AdventureQuest) and the Offspring (in World of Tanks), DJs Ekali (in Minecraft), Reggie Watts and Blasterjaxx and EDM label Monstercat (in Sansar) among those to have organised large virtual concerts since.

 


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Wireless to return to Germany in 2019

After taking a hiatus in 2018, Live Nation will stage its Wireless festival in Germany for the second time next summer.

American rapper Travis Scott will headline Wireless Germany 2019, which takes place on 5 and 6 July at the new greenfield venue of Alter Rebstockpark (40,000-daily cap.) in Frankfurt. (The inaugural Wireless Germany, in 2017, took place at Commerzbank Arena in the same city.)

Other performers include James Blake, Rae Sremmurd, J Balvin, Rita Ora and Migos, as well as local hip-hop acts Marteria & Casper and Bonez MC & RAF Camora.

Two-day GA tickets are priced from €139, which also includes tickets for public transport to and from Rebstock Park, described as a “green oasis in the middle of the metropolis” of Frankfurt.

The festival will additionally feature “breakdance performances, street art, fashion, chill-out areas, open-air shisha bars” and more, according to the launch announcement.

Scott has also been announced as a headliner of the inaugural Lollapalooza Stockholm, announced by Live Nation in May, alongside Foo Fighters, Lana Del Rey and Swedish artist Laleh.

 


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