When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live events, the music industry scrambled to find alternatives to concerts that would let artists perform and interact with their fans digitally. At the same time, metaverse platforms like Roblox, Fortnite, and Minecraft were exploding in popularity as digital gathering places. With a new digital world to create event spaces, music executives were able to curate live music events that could bring fans together digitally. It was clear that the music industry quickly saw the potential for metaverse applications in ways that other industries did not.
Today, despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions globally, metaverse gaming platforms continue to be popular sites for digital events. Ariana Grande’s 2021 Fortnite concert drew in as many as 27.7 million unique visitors globally, with many attendees streaming the concert on other platforms like Twitch and even more viewers watching the event on YouTube. After its end, many attendees shared their perspective of the experience on other social media apps such as Twitter and TikTok via screen recording. Other events showed similar success, such as Travis Scott’s 2021 Fortnite concert that brought in 12 million viewers—a record at that time—and a recent Charli XCX concert in Roblox that spanned several weeks of interactive material in the digital world.
Looking even further ahead, music giants are preemptively entering partnerships with decentralized metaverse spaces ahead of the anticipated Web3 boom. Warner Music Group entered a strategic partnership with The Sandbox earlier this year, while the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was brought to Decentraland via its sponsor, Absolut Vodka. Metaverses are only becoming more popular, with market forecast reports estimating that the metaverse industry will reach a market valuation of over $1.5 trillion USD by 2029, at a CAGR of 47.6% in that period of time. Currently the market is estimated to be around $100 billion.
Metaverse Events Could Be the Key to Broadcaster Success
Many media and broadcasting companies have struggled in recent years to reach Millennial, Generation Z and younger audiences. Data shows that Generation Z and Millennial media consumers prefer internet video apps such as Youtube and TikTok, online streaming platforms, and video games over traditional broadcast media platforms.
Integrating with metaverse platforms is a great way to meet younger audiences where they are already. Just like with more traditional forms of social media, content opportunities and activations within the metaverse can help broadcasters reach new audiences while strengthening their presence in a changing digital landscape. News media companies could host digital events, podcasters and radio hosts could do live interviews that interact with their audience, and traditional television platforms can stream their metaverse events live on their television networks for additional coverage.
The advantage that traditional media does have is its ability to disseminate content to a large and trusting audience. This can be a great way to get users online to interact with traditional media platforms. Just like how people are eager to get on TV in the real world, offering chances to appear on television through the metaverse can spark interest among demographics that would otherwise choose their phone or computer first.
Broadcasters Have a Unique Advantage in Their Established Audiences
Brands have gamified their products within the metaverse to bring activations that can increase sales in the real world. Chipotle, for example, released a burrito builder game in Roblox that rewards users with something called Burrito Bucks, a digital currency that can then be used to purchase products in-store. Facebook, on the other hand, plans to open its own metaverse that users can immerse themselves in to do things like attend work meetings, interact with friends and family, or even shop online.
What makes metaverse music events so unique—and so attractive to music fans—are the immersive spaces they’re held in. Each digital concert venue is designed around the overall experience, and integrates gaming with the music to let players compete and play games inside a digital world that matches the aesthetic of the concert itself. For Ariana Grande’s show, players were able to travel around a colorful open-world game as a virtual Grande performed a handful of her hit songs. Today many internet users are more interested in metaverse events than they are in other online activities like online shopping and, unbelievably, live sports.
Metaverse events like the Ariana Grande Fortnite concert are free for users. These spaces are accessible from any device that can connect to the network, meaning that fans in remote locations can attend a concert in the digital world much easier than in the real world. For music fans in cities, states and countries that don’t often see live events from their favorite artists, metaverse concerts are a great way to foster unique memories based around music.
The Metaverse for Local Broadcasters
The same concept can apply to broadcasting. While streaming platforms dominate the live comedy industry right now, broadcasters could get ahead in the emerging digital world by investing in comedy events in the metaverse, as well as concerts with local performers and other unique opportunities that take advantage of their vast and established networks. Local broadcasters could connect their local communities in the digital world, and even offer things like educational workshops to foster learning opportunities in a unique online space, or offer a place for local artists and business owners to showcase their work in a new way.
For tourism, local broadcasters can create activations in the metaverse that are digital replicas of what tourists can expect when they visit in the real world. These activations can also function as digital advertising space for local businesses and organizations to take advantage of high traffic advertising opportunities, which ultimately increases value in the broadcasting network as a whole.
The music industry learned a hard lesson in the early years of digital music platforms when it failed to offer a product that would slow illegal music downloads. Today, as music giants like Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group pour investments into metaverse opportunities, it’s clear that they’re focused on seeing emerging technology as an opportunity rather than a competitor. For broadcasters, following these cues will be key in the coming years in order to maintain relevance in a changing market.