Fortnite’s Music Series Is Branching Out

There was a time when Fortnite was just a game. It seems a very long time ago now – and it is – but Epic Games devised Fortnite as a fun, cartoonish FPS game that might appeal to children, teenagers, and perhaps young adults as well if they were lucky. As we all now know, Fortnite is a pop culture sensation. It went viral, eventually becoming the most popular mass multiplayer game in the world and the centrepiece of a bitter, protracted legal battle between Epic Games and Apple. It’s also expanded its sphere of influence to other entertainment mediums – most notably music.

The line between music and other forms of digital entertainment has been getting blurry for a while, but that process was accelerated immeasurably by the events of 2020. Musicians found themselves unable to tour and, because of that, short on ways of finding additional income or engaging with large audiences to promote their latest material. Unable to meet their fans in the physical world, they turned to the virtual one instead. Epic, recognising the potential to put musicians in front of a digital audience of millions of people at a time, opened up a stage within Fortnite’s world for them to perform on. DJ Marshmello started the craze, but rapper Travis McCoy took it to new heights. When Ariana Grande performed in Fortnite this past August, she broke every conceivable record for a virtual concert performance. Once a star of Grande’s magnitude has appeared, every other major artist is bound to want to get involved.

With Grande’s performance done and in the books, most fans would probably expect the star names to keep coming. An Ed Sheeran Fortnite appearance was talked about, and some people expected to see veteran British soft rockers Coldplay turn up on the virtual stage. K-pop superstars BTS have had their music played inside Fortnite before, but some industry insiders expected them to confirm a full-on avatar performance at some stage in the next six months. No star was too big. However, it doesn’t look like any of them will appear any time soon. Epic Games has gone in a different direction. Rather than giving stage time to artists that American or European audiences are already familiar with, it seems Epic is ready to hand the opportunity to comparatively lesser-known artists instead.

The latest set of musical performances scheduled for Fortnite is called “The Soundwave Series” – and you can be forgiven if you don’t recognise a single name that’s set to appear. The focus is artists and genres from around the world, each of whom will be given their own “interactive experience” within the game as well as an appearance on the now-famous party royale island stage. The tone is best exemplified by the first artist who’s scheduled to appear – Egyptian musician Mohamed Hamaki. He opens the series – which can loosely be described as a festival – on October 1st. His showcase will last for 48 hours, although he won’t spend all of that time performing. A picture-in-picture service will be available during times that he’s “on stage” so players can enjoy his work while simultaneously blasting their way through opponents away from the party island.

While Epic Games hasn’t confirmed this (and isn’t likely to), there’s a suspicion that the company intends to take its platform and turn it into something that might rival conventional music streaming services like Spotify. If enough artists are willing to get on board with the idea, there could be a full jukebox and video service available within Fortnite that players could listen to and watch while playing their favourite game. Rather than seeing other video games as rivals, Epic might now think that its true opponents are other forms of entertainment media. They could be right. If the picture-in-picture service works for music videos, it might also work for television shows or films. There’s no technical barrier to Epic providing almost anything it wants within the Fortnite world it created – it all comes down to copyright issues and player interest. Given how dissatisfied many musicians are with Spotify’s earnings and commissions models, obtaining the necessary rights might not prove to be as difficult as it would have been as recently as two years ago.

The biggest question in all this is whether Epic will have the same success promoting lesser-known artists as it has with well-known ones. There’s undoubtedly a crossover between music fans and video game fans, but is the crossover big enough for gamers to willingly engage with musicians they’ve never heard of while playing games? If we use the online slots industry as an example, the answer to that question is probably “yes.” During the past ten years, several famous and not-so-famous bands and artists have licensed their music to online slots, and they’ve reaped the rewards for doing so. Guns n’ Roses were the first to the table and, to date, the most successful. Their official online slots game, which features a jukebox of their classics, is one of the most popular branded slots in the world. Smaller metal bands like Saxon have since stepped up to the plate, and electronic artists like deadmau5 have also jumped aboard the online slots bandwagon. If it can work in slots, it can work in conventional gaming,

The weeks and months ahead will determine whether this latest Fortnite idea is going to take off or not, and they have an interesting list of musicians lined up to help them out with the experiment. Tones and I, one of Australia’s most promising singer-songwriters, is on the bill. French-Malian singing sensation Aya Nakamura will appear, and so will Japanese pop star Gen Hoshino. Fans of rap music might be more interested in Brazilian performer Emicida. There’s nothing on the table for fans of rock music yet, but that’s not to say that more names won’t be added in the coming days. Fortnite is now officially open to musicians from all over the world. We might be about to get the first-ever musician who was made famous by Fortnite rather than appearing in the game because of their fame. This is the next step of the game’s evolution – and a sure sign that Epic intends for it to stick around for many more years to come.

Share your love
Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

Articles: 15886

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *