Hiphop Singer on Stage

Roblox Hosts First Ever Virtual Concert Featuring Lil Nas X

Popular online gaming platform Roblox’s exciting partnership with Columbia Records saw Lil Nas X featuring in its first ever virtual concert, which took place on the 14th November and 15th November.

According to reports on popular tech news site TechCrunch, which released details of the event early last week, the Lil Nas X concert was hosted in an online event space which was custom-designed by the Roblox development team. It included a number of different stages and each included a specific theme, all of which were inspired by the artist’s songs and music videos. The intention was to create a truly immersive experience and no expense was spared in their use of shadowing, lighting and physically based rendering (PBR) facial recognition technologies to deliver the ultimate Lil Nas X concert.

The event started with a pre show at 4PM on Friday November 13th, which was streamed in the concert venue and also included a Q&A session. The main event was split into three showings, with the first taking place on Saturday, November 14th at 1PM PST. The Asia showing was next on the schedule, taking place at 10PM PST, with the European showing ending the event spectacular on Sunday November 15th at 9AM PST. During the event, Lil Nas X performed a selection of his songs including his new single ‘Holiday’, which was performed live for the first time ever.

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In statements released by Roblox ahead of the event, Jon Vlassoplus, global head of Music at Roblox was quoted as saying, “We’re thrilled to partner with Columbia Records to bring Lil Nas X fans and the Roblox community together in an entirely new way. This concert with Lil Nas X will transport players and their friends into the Metaverse, and bring to life the future of what immersive, social experiences can look like.”

In addition, Lil Nas X was quoted as saying, “We’re throwing the biggest virtual concert of 2020, and I hope everybody in the world can come check it out. “I feel very lucky to be the first artist to ever do this on Roblox. We had so much fun putting this together for my fans, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

For those of you who may think this story sounds familiar, that may be because earlier this year, another online gaming platform Fortnite hosted a live online set from US rapper Travis Scott entitled ‘Astronomical’. This in-game event was an industry first and attracted over 12 million players at its peak, with many more watching it via streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. In fact, According to figures released by Epic Games, the event was viewed by a further 27.7 million people across the five events.

So what is the attraction of hosting such events in the virtual sphere? Well, given the ‘shelter in place’ orders that were in effect across the U.S in addition to lockdown measures in other countries across the globe, the number of people who have been spending their time engaged in online gaming platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite have soared. The difference between these games and static games is that players have the opportunity to interact with real people and socialize, so it was a way of keeping in touch with their friends whilst also passing the time with live game play. In addition, the live entertainment sector has literally fallen off a cliff since the pandemic began, with concerts, events and performances cancelled for the foreseeable future. Bringing live entertainment into the virtual gaming experience is a way to continue creating opportunities to enjoy live music whilst also generating valuable income streams such as from in-play avatars, add-ons and artist merchandise.

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Roblox is a free to play game which includes a variety of in-game purchases which are obtained through the game’s own virtual currency called ‘Robux’. According to Wikipedia, as of August 2020, the game had over 164 million monthly active users and it is estimated to be played by over 50% of children aged under 16 in the U.S.

Lil Nas X is likely to have been chosen as the frontman for the first ever Roblox virtual concert due to his wide appeal. At just 21 years old, Lil Nas (born Montero Lamar Hill) is a rapper, singer and songwriter, who gained fame after releasing his country rap song, ‘Old Town Road’. Initially, this song went viral on TikTok and this led to the song climbing the charts internationally, whilst also becoming diamond certified that same year. He has a huge global following and according to Wikipedia, as of August 2019 he had 2.3 million followers on Twitter; four million followers on Instagram; 5.2 million subscribers on YouTube, and over 44 million monthly listeners on Spotify.