‘Roblox’ says artists won’t need to play in-person to “sustain successful careers”

Roblox vice president and head of music Jon Vlassopulos believes some artists will be able to “launch and sustain successful careers virtually” without ever having to play real-life gigs.

Speaking to NME about the future of virtual gigs, Vlassopulos said: “As we continue to push the limits of what music can be on Roblox, we see an opportunity for new forms of entertainment to emerge.

“There will be new virtual music products and services for fans to buy and some artists will be able to launch and sustain successful careers virtually without ever having to play a real world show,” he explained.

“We believe the metaverse will democratize the music industry, allowing any band or artist of any size to promote their music and connect with their fans directly. They can set up their profile and start spending time on the platform building their virtual Roblox fanbase,” he continued. “I definitely expect there to be a major new star that breaks on Roblox in the next couple of years.”

Vlassopulos also believes that virtual concerts, like the ones held in Roblox by Twenty One Pilots, Lil Nas X and Tai Verdes, will continue beyond the pandemic.

“They open up the excitement of hanging with your friends at a live music performance to hundreds of millions of people who would never have the opportunity to go to a real world event,” he said.

The team at Roblox don’t see it as an either/or situation, and expect to see more interaction between live concerts and virtual concerts. “Artists will choose to perform to thousands of fans in the real world while simultaneously performing and interacting with millions of fans around the world in the metaverse,” said Vlassopulos.

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“Virtual concerts have the potential to massively grow the live industry, extend artist careers and connect fans and artists in truly exciting ways. The metaverse has the potential to reshape the music industry forever.”

Twenty One Pilots Roblox
Twenty One Pilots performing in ‘Roblox’. CREDIT: Youtube

“People are spending a huge amount of time on platforms like Roblox, and will continue to do so as the line between the physical and digital worlds becomes increasingly blurred, which represents a major opportunity for artists, labels and fans alike, regardless of whether in-person shows are possible,” he continued.

Roblox has already hosted virtual concerts that have connected millions to their favourite artists in unique immersive experiences not replicable in the real world. I believe we’ll only see more and more virtual events as labels recognise the promotional power of what we call the metaverse.”

It was recently reported that the Twenty One Pilots Experience was one of the most popular events in Roblox in 2021.

Vlassopulos believes virtual gigs in the metaverse allow artists “a novel way to engage with fans across the globe in a hyper-immersive, ultra-social setting”, free from geographical, logistical or financial restrictions. “Anyone can join and connect with their favourite artists from anywhere.”

He adds that “virtual concerts allow artists to diversify their revenue streams and make money from selling virtual merchandise – something that could really shake up how the industry works.” Apparently sales from Lil Nas X in-game merch totalled close to an eight-figure sum “meaning that artists can develop a fanbase and build their career completely virtually without ever having to perform in real life, thus democratising the industry.”

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“In the future, we also expect artists to use virtual concerts to kick-off real ones – like Twenty One Pilots did last year – and for labels to view them as an essential marketing opportunity just as important as social media or television.”

Roblox Lil Nas X Performance
Roblox & Lil Nas X Credit: Roblox / Sony Music Entertainment

However, he does add that the most popular musical experiences come from artists who really engage with the platform.

“A considerable amount of time and effort goes into designing and creating a virtual concert experience, so we can ensure it is as immersive and hyper-social as possible for the millions who will experience it. Virtual concerts on Roblox involve everything from animating an artist, motion capture, creating merch, and building the virtual world where the event is held.”

“All the artists we have worked with want to be part of the process. They participated in making sure their performances reflect their music, style, identity, brand and artistic image, all while being as authentic and as memorable for fans as possible.”

Vlassopulos finished by saying 2022 will see “more” virtual Roblox concerts than last year. “It is going to be a big year with a lot of amazing artists already locked and loaded. We are looking to do events with more international artists, up and coming artists, DJ’s, artists from a variety of genres, and you may even see some virtual artists.”

In other news, Nike is looking to enter the metaverse by hiring at least five specialists.