Reggaeton, Fortnite and Halloween… a lucrative mashup?

This article by Pitchfork discusses the announcement made this week by Epic Games that J. Balvin will headline a concert and premiere his new song  “La Luz”  in Fortnite for their Halloween “Fortnightmares” event.

First, for some critical context (for those who do not already know) J.Balvin is a Reggaeton superstar. You may be most familiar with such hits as “Mi Gente”, including a remix with the Queen Bee herself (imbedded below as it is one of my personal favourites), and “I like it” with Cardi B and Bad Bunny.

Reading this article, I was intrigued to learn that Balvin is not the first mainstream musical artist to debut music on Fortnite. Earlier this year, at the end of April, Travis Scott also performed a ten minute concert on Fortnite. That performance was a wildly successful collaboration for both Epic Games and for Travis. Another article (“Where Can Virtual Concerts Go After Travis Scott’s Fortnite Extravaganza”) by Pitchfork notes

” 27.7 million unique gamers attended the digital gig 45.8 million times. Its success catapulted “THE SCOTTS,” which premiered as part of the Fortnite set, to debut at No. 1 on this week’s Hot 100 chart.”

This earlier Pitchfork article attributes the success at least in part to Covid-19 and the resulting worldwide quarantines. The article points out that the quarantines created the demand for virtual entertainment among gamers and non-gamers and the inability to explore traditional venues increased artist willingness to engage in new methods for reaching audiences.

It also touched on how various game platforms and developers are particularly suited to integrate their traditional offerings to meet this demand for virtual live musical entertainment in unique ways. For example, they discuss the interactive components and the interesting ways in which the Travis concert unfolded on Fortnite (“players….watch a digital avatar of Travis Scott teleport around a beach, tower against a blood-red sky, and launch audience members into outer space…”). They also touched on platforms such as wave and their creation of the artist avatar, and other platforms who are on record as considering the possibility of concerts starring post-humous legendary musical acts…

For the Balvin event, it appears gamers will be engaged in a game/quest, at the end of which the concert will be given as a ‘reward for staying in on Halloween’.

Some food for thought …..

If the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are such a critical component of the success of these virtual concerts and cross industry integrations – are these successes temporary?

Given the possibility of the sheer numbers of attendees, does this represent another significant shift / natural evolution in the music industry?

Does the debut of mainstream artists on video game platforms signal a shift  away from stigma to acceptance of video game culture – are videogames ‘hip’ now?

Will game platforms continue to integrate game and concert components or will companies like Epic Games separate these – and diversify their offerings – in order to make concerts available more widely to non-gamers (for a price?)?

As the way concerts are delivered /presented within a game get more creative what legal protections does the artist have once they have participated in a game / virtual concert  – what protections should they have, and what about the gamer or ..modder?

In part I think all of the above questions – and specifically whether these virtual concerts will remain and grow within the gaming industry or whether they will replace the more traditional concert business model.. will ultimately go back to the money. Are these concerts  more lucrative than a traditional one, or a world wide tour? How will this analysis change with changes to Covid-19 related regulatory restrictions?

It will be interesting to find out…..

Will you be tuning in to the Fortnightmares event and J. Balvin concert ?