Two years ago the idea of a virtual concert would be strange to most and it was an activity mostly addressed by very tech-savvy artists and fans. However, the global pandemic changed the way we perceive them and is slowly changing the habits of artists and tour managers to include at least one virtual concert in their tours.
Some of you might remember a mission in GTA IV where Phil Collins performs “In The Air Tonight”, this is one of the first examples of concerts in the what is now known as the metaverse.
The global pandemic pushed artists to find alternatives to live tours and together with all the other things in our lives, they moved their tours online.
Virtual concerts can take many forms depending on what the artist chooses. The most popular one of course is artists live streaming themselves while playing music on one or multiple platforms. For example, you can imagine Ed Sheeran singing in his studio together with his band and live streaming on YouTube, Instagram and Twitch simultaneously. This is the most common and cost-effective strategy for an artist and based on the channel that they will decide to broadcast it will also depend if they can charge tickets for these concerts.
The second form has been used mostly by larger artists as it requires a certain preparation and design team to happen and it is the concerts in video games. Ariana Grande in Fortnite, DeadMau5 and Paris Hilton in Decentraland or Lil Nas X in Roblox are all examples of artists that have worked with video game companies to design digital experiences that combine gameplay with a concert and deliver a unique event to their fans.
The third form is having an avatar form of the artist performing on a certain platform. Such instances were The Weekend’s concert on TikTok or Justin Bieber’s in collaboration with Wave. This type of form might require less “clout” to be done as the artist will combine a design agency with the distribution channel that they prefer.
After distinguishing the 3 different forms, it is important to make a division between the live and pre-recorded digital concerts. Both can be applied in all 3 forms and it is based on the artist and the type of engagement they would like to have with their audience.
Why are online experiences becoming such a huge thing in the music industry? There are many factors to consider but the greatest one is supply and demand, larger revenues and changing consumer behaviour.
With Covid-19 still not allowing the normal functioning of many concerts and festivals, the supply of real-life concerts has been limited in the past two years, pushing fans to interact with their favourite musicians through online experiences. The music consumer is willing to pay to get to live an experience with their favourite artist online and from the comfort of their home. Furthermore, researches have shown that many listeners will continue attending online concerts even once the restrictions have been lifted, showing a clear demand for such a product.
Artists can use online concerts to attract a bigger fanbase. A digital concert is targeted towards a global fanbase and with music becoming a global product, an artist can regroup their fans from all over the world in one place, allowing them to meet each other and giving them an original interaction. On top of that, they can monetize their listeners with one show that can potentially have a smaller cost than an offline tour. Furthermore, when an artist is performing in video games, they can also sell digital merch; from an Ariana Grande Fortnite skin to a DeadMau5 mask in Decentraland; artists can use the scarcity offered by NFTs and these events to maximize the revenue from such concerts. For instance, it has been reported that the Travis Scott Fortnite concert brought in millions in revenue.
Taking everything into consideration, online concerts in all forms can be used by artists to connect with their fans globally, express themselves in new ways and can be used as a great marketing strategy to promote new albums or tours.