With the many changes coronavirus has made in our lives this year, concerts were bound to undergo some alterations as well. Artists across the world have had to cancel performances in the wake of COVID-19, drastically restructuring the concert industry.
In the past couple of months, virtual performances have emerged as an interesting new medium of interacting with fans while keeping everyone involved socially distant. Is this just a quick fix in the concert industry until we can all come back together in person, or are virtual concerts going to become more common in the future?
One of the first major virtual concerts throughout quarantine came when rapper Travis Scott came to the popular battle royale game Fortnite. According to ESPN, the event drew 45 million viewers, far more than any in-person concert could manage. Additionally, the Youtube recording of the event has reached 77 million views.
The event acted just like a real concert, allowing participants to dance in large crowds, talk with one another and even buy exclusive overpriced in-game merch. A few unique twists were added, however, like special effects making Travis 20 feet tall, a giant Astroworld planet floating on the horizon and even a trip to outer space for one song.
Travis’ performance was part of Fortnite’s concert series that featured other big name artists like Deadmau5, Steve Aoki and Diplo. As mentioned in The Verge, Fortnite’s ultimate plan is to have their game act as a common “tour stop” for many other touring artists. Other video games have also gotten in on the virtual concert trend, as online multiplayer game Roblox just recently hosted Lil Nas X.
Video games aren’t the only places where virtual concerts are happening as many are taking place all over the internet. YouTube has been a popular hosting site for both live and re-releases of pre-recorded events. The site has even put together their own playlist of concerts as part of their #StayHome #WithMe movement, a reminder to stay inside while the coronavirus continues to spread in places throughout the U.S.
Artists featured on the playlist include Foo Fighters, Metallica and others. Artists have also used YouTube as a means to host their own events. Earlier in the year, DJ Marshmello hosted his own live virtual concert with YouTube live, while Alan Walker released a recording of a past concert, both of which carrying the same message of staying safe at home.
Some virtual concerts are even charging admission now as Billboard shows on its site, some virtual events from artists like Gorillaz, Lil Yachty and Dua Lipa are costing anywhere from fifteen to thirty dollars.
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So, what can we gather from this? Are virtual concerts going to become a mainstay in the future? All signs point to yes. With the immense popularity the concerts have received and the attention from big name artists, I believe it is safe to say virtual concerts will outlast the pandemic itself.
Sure, concerts are always better in person, but maybe interacting with your favorite artist in the future could be as easy as hopping on your favorite video game. And while we are currently apart, virtual concerts give us all something we can share with one another again, something that has been sorely missed in recent months.