The future is always uncertain, but there’s something that can’t be denied: Marshmello and Fortnite have changed entertainment forever.
On Saturday at 2 pm ET, during Super Bowl weekend, the American DJ and EDM producer performed a live set that was virtually broadcasted on the online videogame Fortnite to more than 10 million concurrent gamers. That figure, reported originally by Geoff Keighley, does not include Marshmello’s second performance at 2 am ET on Sunday for those on the eastern hemisphere of the planet, or the ones watching the concert live via Twitch.
The ‘attendees’ to the concert could well rise up to more than 15 million people total, giving both Marshmello and Fortnite tremendous exposure and a platform for the entertainment business to look up to. Eventhough, videogames like Minecraft, World of Warcraft and Club Penguin have done virtual concerts before, none of them had such a big scale as Fortnite and Marshmello’s.
Days before the event took place, it was promoted heavily on the platform and it was even included on the official Tour Schedule on Marshmello’s website. Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, confirmed they tested the event many times before going live and even created a new gameplay mode with new challenges included.
Marshmello assured his whole performance was live, and during the concert you could hear him animate the Fortnite crowd.
If the 15 million number is accurate, even by estimates, the concert has surpassed by more than 400% the largest attendance in history for a single live performance when Rod Stewart performed on New Year’s Eve of 1993 in Cobacabana Beach, and the French producer Jean-Michel Jarre did so for Moscow’s 850th anniversary in 1997. Both concerts were attended by 3.5 million people.
Undoubtedly, this will generate a shift on how the music industry understands their reach and the importance of new markets other than the physical ones. If back in the 80s record sales were the priority, the emergence of digital music in the 21st century made live performances and tours their biggest revenue driver.
But now, there’s a new frontier. If U2’s 360 Tour (2009-2011) became the highest attended tour ever with 7.2 million concert goers, the opportunity to reach the 200 million Fortnite users suddenly becomes attractive.
Even if we compare the U2 tour with Marshmello’s concert, the numbers are staggering. The complete 360 Tour lasted two years, from 2009 to 2011 and included 110 shows, while Marshmello performed two live sets of about 10 minutes each, and had roughly more than 8 million people ‘in attendance’.
Not only this becomes an opportunity for the music industry but for eSports, and more importantly the sports business in general. Experiential events could now go virtual and reach more and more people than ever.
High ticket prices and travel costs associated with events like the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League or the Super Bowl, could be diminished for fans who could now have the chance to attend these events and experience them from the comfort of their own living room. They could interact directly with their favorite stars, athletes and idols, just like some gamers did with Marshmello while playing Fortnite.
Imagine a kid far in the plains of Argentina having the chance to greet Lionel Messi before entering the field for a Champions League Final, or an aspiring Basketball high schooler living in Detroit who can get advice from LeBron James minutes before the seventh game of the NBA Finals.
There is a new frontier, now it’s up to us to conquer it.
UPDATE: Another interesting number: only 7.5 million unique devices (not people) watched the Super Bowl via streaming, which was an all-time record. Although is not apples-to-apples, it can give us a sense of how much reach does Fortnite has.