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Roblox poaches executives from Spotify and Meta

Roblox has announced a wave of new hires, including former executives from Spotify and Meta, in a bid to “push the boundaries of creativity.”

Among the new hires is Karibi Dagogo-Jack, Spotify’s former head of music development. He joins the gaming platform as head of music partnerships, essentially taking over from Jon Vlassopulos who left in April.

Also new to the team is Todd Lichten, in the new role of head of entertainment partnerships. He joined the gaming platform last month after leaving his role as head of emerging content at Meta. Prior to that, he spent over three years at Facebook.

The two appointments are part of a revamped partnerships team, made up of Winnie Burke as head of fashion & beauty partnerships, Hayden Walling as head of sports partnerships, and Arvind Jayaram as head of account management, partnerships.

These new hires come as Roblox continues to expand its ambitions, with collaborations with artists, brands and platforms like Spotify.

“Our partnership work continues to accelerate as they experiment with new formats and discover new revenue streams”

“We’ve seen a lot of success with top brands coming onto the Roblox platform, and our partnership work continues to accelerate as they experiment with new formats, launch persistent social spaces, discover new revenue streams, and push the boundaries of creativity,” says Roblox’s VP of global partnerships, Christina Wootton.

“The growth in the number of persistent experiences especially signifies long-term commitment and showcases that brands view our platform as the next-generation immersive social place for ongoing community engagement vs. a place for one-time activations.”

In recent months, Roblox has launched a Spotify Island featuring virtual performances from the likes of Charli XCX, Lizzo and Gayle.

Artists including Lil Nas X, Twenty One Pilots, 24kGoldn, Royal Blood, David Guetta and Ava Max have delivered virtual performances on the platform.

 


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Pioneering festivals set to launch in metaverse

Virtual blockchain-based world Decentraland is preparing to host the world’s first multi-day festival in the metaverse – a virtual world made up of permanent, shared, 3D virtual spaces.

The event, simply titled ‘Metaverse Festival’, will feature more than 80 high-profile artists and personalities across four days and five stages.

Deadmau5, RAC, 3LAU, Nina Nesbitt, 3Lau, Alison Wonderland and Aluna (of AlunaGeorge) are all scheduled to make appearances.

The festival organisers have even secured Paris Hilton – whose in-game avatar was designed by avatar technology company Genies.

Alongside music, Metaverse Festival will also offer a funfair, games, merch stands, a VIP lounge, chill-out zones, a psychedelic sculpture garden and – in a world-first – virtual portable toilets.

“Every festival needs portable toilets – even in the metaverse”

According to festival coordinator, Sam Hamilton, “every festival needs portable toilets – even in the metaverse”.

“These are no ordinary portable toilets. Every toilet contains a different experience. Some good, some bad, some mind-blowing. Definitely worth your while checking them out,” he adds.

Hamilton says festivalgoers wanting to ‘experience’ the virtual toilets will have to “queue up like everyone else”.

“But the toilets change with each visit. No two Dump ‘N’ Pump experiences are the same,” he adds.

The central theme of the Metaverse Festival is Evolution and the event will “transform” throughout the four days, from Water on day one, to Earth, Space, and finally, Metaverse.

This metamorphosis will be visible in the main Evolution stage, presented by Bitcoin trading platform Kraken, which is sponsoring the event, along with drinks brand Heineken and crypto-exclusive fund Metapurse.

“The beauty of the metaverse is you never know what you’ll find”

“This is our way of expressing human evolution – emerging from the water onto the land, reaching space and of course the next big leap which is a pioneering exploration of the metaverse,” explains Hamilton.

The line-up will be added to up until the last minute, which Hamilton says is “the beauty of the metaverse – you never know what you might find”.

The event runs from tomorrow (21 October) until 24 October and is accessible through the festival home page or Decentraland Events page.

Elsewhere, Roblox and event promoter Insomniac today announced they will bring one of the largest electronic music festivals in the world – Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) – to the metaverse.

Taking place concurrently with EDC in Las Vegas, Nevada, sets will be streamed on Roblox after the in-person shows

The event will be the first-ever music festival hosted in Roblox and will take place in a virtual space dubbed the Insomniac World Party.

Taking place concurrently with EDC in Las Vegas, Nevada, sets will be streamed on Roblox after the in-person shows – mirroring the real-life festival – and artists will join the experience in Roblox after their sets to hold ‘meet and greets’ and interact with fans.

The festival will capture the environment that EDC is known for, replicating the event’s iconic stages and featuring interactive activities like dance battles. Joining the event will also give attendees the chance to win real and virtual merchandise.

EDC will be held in the metaverse from 22–25 October with the virtual space opening on 19 October.

Today’s news comes days after Facebook announced it plans to hire 10,000 people to develop a so-called metaverse, as the race to build the ‘next iteration of the internet accelerates.

 


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Live music to start 2021 with a (virtual) bang

Tomorrowland, Big Hit and Lost Horizon have each announced virtual New Year’s Eve events to close a year of hugely successful livestreamed events.

Belgium EDM giant Tomorrowland has announced New Year’s Eve celebration ‘31.12.2020’, which will see more than 25 DJs perform across 27 time zones to usher in the new year.

The festival will start at 8 pm local time in all zones and will close at 3 am after performances from Armin van Buuren, CamelPhat, Charlotte de Witte, David Guetta, Diplo, Major Lazer, Martin Garrix, Snoop Dogg aka DJ Snoopadelic and more.

The festival will be hosted on Tomorrowland’s website and performances will be streamed from four stages in Naoz, a brand new digital entertainment venue in which “some of the festival’s most iconic themes” will feature.

Tomorrowland held its first-ever digital festival, Tomorrowland Around the World, in July and saw 1 million fans pay to attend – 150% more festivalgoers than usual.

K-pop superstars BTS are also expected to expand on the success of their 2020 virtual events, which have seen them break records and earn millions.

The group’s management Big Hit yesterday announced that artists from its roster would come together under one banner for the first time for a hybrid New Year’s Eve event.

Big Hit announced that artists from its roster would come together under one banner for the first time for NYE

The concert, presented by Weverse, will be livestreamed and limited seating will be available, in accordance with the government Covid-19 restrictions. If restrictions change, preventing the in-person aspect, the event will go fully digital.

Nu’est, Enhypen, Txt and Gfriend have already been confirmed for the event, with more line up announcements expected tomorrow (12 November).

BTS performed on New Year’s Eve last year, headlining Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest in New York’s Times Square alongside Post Malone, Sam Hunt and Alanis Morissette and more.

Lost Horizon, the VR music venue created by the team behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La, will also be hosting a special New Year’s Eve event to end a season of virtual events in December.

The season will take place in VR event platform Sansar and will play host to DJs, underground acts and visual artists, before culminating with ‘Chasing Midnight’, a 24-hour global celebration on New Year’s Eve, taking in 12 time zones and 12 countdowns.

Lost Horizon launched its premiere festival in July, a four-stage event in Sansar featuring artists including Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Pete Tong, which reached 4.36m viewers, according to organisers.

 


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Report: £5 is ‘optimum’ price point for virtual shows

A ticket that costs £5 (€5.55) for individual adults, or £10 (€11.10) for families with children, is the optimum average price point for virtual events, new analysis reveals.

For Vivid Interface’s Meeting the Online Opportunity, the UK market research firm asked 1,019 people who had visited at least two visitor attractions in the 18 months prior to lockdown in March 2020 how much they would pay to “watch a [virtual] play, opera, ballet performance or live band gig, or do a class, and so on”.

For “independent adults”, the price point where both revenue and viewership are at their highest is, on average, £5, according to the report. For families with children under 16, revenue is highest at £10, while the biggest viewership is achieved at £5.

The survey also reveals differences in willingness to spend based on age group – for 18–25s and 36–54s the optimum price point is £10, while for 26–35s and over-55s it’s £5 – and gender, with men prepared to pay more for their online experiences than women.

“The right online offer can provide a rapid revenue recovery”

Vivid Interface’s MD, Geoff Dixon, comments: “Nothing beats the live events arena. It’s where we work – and my social life – but organisers have to at least explore the possibility of online augmentation of their offer in pandemic times.

“I believe that the right online offer can provide a rapid revenue recovery without harming the long-term viability of ‘live’. In fact, an online presence can reach new geographies and bring new customers to a brand, attracting people who may in time walk through a physical door rather than a paywall.”

According to Vivid’s research, the Royal Opera House, by charging £4.99 for its first post-lockdown virtual shows, “may not be optimising revenue”; however, Laura Marling’s groundbreaking Union Chapel concert, which attracted an online audience of 6,500 with a ticket price of £12.50 (€13.90), “may be optimising revenue at this price point”.

“Research will help to set out a plan and an understanding of the price-to-demand relationships that are key to successful brand building,” adds Dixon.

 


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Superfly partners with TikTok to support small businesses

Small Business Live, a virtual live music event organised by Bonnaroo and Outside Lands co-founder Superfly, is raising money for minority-owned companies founded by people of colour across the US.

The event, which is taking place on Saturday 20 June from 4 to 10 p.m. ET, will see acts including Brittany Howard, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and Brandi Carlile performing on-site at local small businesses.

All performances will be livestreamed through TikTok and also available via YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, Twitter, LiveXLive and the publications of Bustle Digital Group.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to Accion Opportunity Fund, a non-profit that provides almost 90% of their loans to small businesses founded by people of colour. The fund also looks to support companies set up by women, as well as those run by immigrants.

Viewers will be able to donate via text with a special code that will be made available closer to the time. Fans can also donate on the Superfly website before and after the live stream, until 26 June.

“Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic”

“Entrepreneurs of colour are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” says Luz Urrutia, CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund.

“This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia, and oppression.”

According to Superfly co-founder Rich Goodstone, around 3.5 million small businesses in the US are currently at risk of permanent closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. A “disproportionate number” of those at risk are minority-owned businesses, says Goodstone.

“We look forward to raising the profile of this issue by showcasing amazing music performances and the stories of small businesses across America that urgently need our support.”

Fans can to tune in to Small Business Live on TikTok, with a list of other ways to view the event available here.

Superfly’s Rick Farman was among those to invest in avatar-based virtual concert platform Wave last week, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate the puh towards digital forms of live entertainment.

Photo: Calquinn/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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Amsterdam’s DGTL goes digital

The organisers of DGTL festival, which was scheduled to take place from 11 to 12 April at Amsterdam’s NDSM Docklands, have announced they are hosting an online event in its place, Digital DGTL.

DGTL Amsterdam was among a number of Dutch festivals to be cancelled at the end of last month, following an extension of a governmental ban on all public gatherings until 1 June.

Now, DGTL is joining a growing number of festivals – including South American events Lollapalooza Chile and Colombia’s Estéreo Picnic – to provide fans with online content on the original dates of the cancelled event.

Over two days from 2 to 11p.m. (CET), fans will be able to access live streams from 28 different artists across three “stages” via the Digital DGTL website.

Over two days, fans will be able to access live streams from 28 different artists across three “stages”

Those “attending” Digital DGTL can also sign up to alerts to notify them of when their favourite artists are about to perform. Acts playing the virtual event include Jasper Wolff, Luuk Van Dijk, Deniro, Adriatique and Nicolas Lutz.

DGTL has partnered with Absolut vodka and Kornuit beer, as well as local catering establishments, allowing “festivalgoers” to pre-order food – all vegetarian – and drink for delivery during the festival from a digital bar and food court. Festival merchandise is also available to buy via the website.

Using the hashtag #KeepDistanceStayDGTL, organisers remind fans to keep to their own homes while tuning in to the festival.

Organisers also call on viewers to make a donation to Erasmus MC (Erasmus University medical Centre) during the online festivals, for their work in developing a vaccine and other medicines to fight coronavirus.

Photo: Hanna Norlin/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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PEG presents month-long Digital Drag Fest

Over 60 artists including stars from reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race and other LGBTQ+ acts have been announced for the line-up of Digital Drag Fest 2020, a month-long virtual drag festival.

The event kicked off on 27 March and will go on until the end of April, featuring 30-minute shows from acts including Alaska, Jackie Beat, Kimora Blac, Manila Luzon, Nicky, Peppermint, Trinity the Tuck, John Carmeron Mitchell, Rayvon Owen and Justin Vivian Bond.

The festival is promoted by Producer Entertainment Group (PEG), which manages top drag queen artists, LGBTQ+ talent and influencers.

Tickets for each show start at $10 and are kept to “extremely limited” numbers, with some shows selling out days in advance. Viewers will have the chance to interact with artists, tip them and receive prizes and giveaways. Performances will not be recorded or re-released.

“Drag is about resilience, and this festival is meant to share that message during a challenging time in our world”

A portion of all proceeds will be donated to the festival’s charitable partner, Glaad, an LGBTQ+ media advocacy organisation.

“Drag is about resilience, and this festival is meant to share that message during a challenging time in our world,” says PEG founder and president, David Charpentier. “We want to give fans an opportunity to continue supporting their favorite queens and provide a welcome distraction for drag lovers around the globe.”

More information on show times and the number of tickets remaining for each performance, are available on the Digital Drag Fest website, along with artist merchandise.

Read more about how the monetise virtual events here.

How to make money from virtual concerts


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Lindsey Stirling performing live as avatar

Electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling is putting on a new kind of interactive virtual concert, performing live to fans in avatar form.

The concert, put on in collaboration with streaming platform Wave, will take place at 3 p.m. (EST) on Monday 26 August.

Stirling will perform through her avatar, powered by art body motion and face capture technology. Fans will also be able created their own avatars and attend the virtual show by downloading the Wave virtual reality (VR) app, supported by HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Throughout the concert, Stirling will interact with fans “in a variety of direct, mysterious and surpris[ing] ways”. Limited edition concert merchandise will be available to buy.

The show, streamed live from Wave’s Los Angeles studios, will be available to watch live via the artist’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, or Wave’s Twitch channel. Fans that miss the live performance can watch it back for 24 hours after premiere time.

“[Stirling] is the perfect artist to be the first to use Wave on YouTube”

“Lindsey is a trailblazer, entrepreneur and incredibly talented artist,” says Adam Arrigo, Wave chief executive and co-founder. “We’re excited to be collaborating with her and helping her extend her reach to fans around the globe using the power of our platform. With her pioneering spirit, she is the perfect artist to be the first to use Wave on YouTube.”

The show is the latest in a growing trend of virtual concerts and artist-to-fan interactions, which include Korn’s upcoming in-game appearance in AdventureQuest3D, Marshmello’s record-breaking Fortnite concert and Monstercat/ Linden Lab’s Call of the Wild Experience, a virtual world for artists and fans.

VR livestreaming is also becoming a popular way to broadcast shows to fans, with the UK’s MelodyVR producing its first ‘Live in VR’ event in December 2018.

During the virtual concert, Stirling will debut material from her new album Artemis. The artist is kicking off a number of European dates on 12 September; full information and ticket prices can be found here.

 


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Korn to play “video game battle concert”

Nu-metal band Korn are the latest group to foray into the world of virtual concerts, announcing upcoming performances in multiplayer games AdventureQuest 3D and 2D counterpart, AdventureQuest Worlds.

The band will debut a song from upcoming album The Nothing during the in-game appearance.

According to AdventureQuest developer Artix Entertainment, players will “fight monsters”, “score loot” and “get in the most brutal mosh pit ever” at the virtual rock concert, hosted at the new AdventureQuest Battle Concert Arena.

The concert, which begins on Tuesday 20 August at “sundown” (EST), is free to attend for gamers and available to replay for a month.

A special event package is available to buy, including Korn-branded items, the “heavy metal mosh pit armour” and exclusive travel forms. Players can also purchase a backstage pass, “to get a virtual backstage experience with the virtual band and take a virtual selfie.”

In-game concerts are becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment. A record ten million Fortnite players tuned into a virtual performance by electronic music producer Marshmello in February, surpassing the game’s previous concurrent player record by 1.7m. Minecraft has also hosted several live music events, including Fire Festival earlier this year.

Korn have been touring the United States, in person, since the end of July. Upcoming tour dates can be found here.

 


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Marshmello Fortnite concert most attended in history

More than ten million people are believed to have attended electronic dance music star Marshmello’s virtual concert in the popular free-to-play video game Fortnite this weekend.

The online shooter hosted its first in-game concert on Saturday. Electronic music producer and DJ, Marshmello, performed live to a concurrent player-base of over ten million people, according to gaming journalist Geoff Keighley.

The number of players that tuned in for Marshmello’s set breaks records for the popular online game, far surpassing Fortnite’s previous concurrent player record of 8.3 million. This number does not include those who watched the performance by proxy on Twitch streams, or attended Marshmello’s encore show at 2am ET (7am GMT).

Players attended the virtual concert in Pleasant Park, a suburban area on the Fortnite Battle Royale map. Weapons functions were disabled, as in-game avatars danced before a large stage to Marshmello’s ten-minute set.

Marshmello has launched a special edition Fortnite merchandise collection, selling hoodies (US$55), shirts ($36) and t shirts ($30). The extended version of the DJ’s Fortnite set is available exclusively on Apple music.

“We made history today! The first ever live virtual concert inside of Fortnite with millions of people in attendance. So insane, thank you epic games and everyone who made this possible,” tweeted Marshmello after the event.

The Marshmello x Fortnite concert is not the first in-game live music event, but surpasses previous events in terms of scale, granting more exposure to the artist, game and concept of virtual live music events.

Fortnite launched in 2017 and now boasts over 200 million total players. Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, recorded an annual turnover of $2.4 billion in 2018. A $1.25 billion investment by private equity firm KKR in October led to a valuation of nearly $15 billion for the gaming company.

 


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