All the breathless coverage on Marshmello’s in-game performance in the juggernaut that is Fortnite left me rather cold. Video gaming is massive and I’m as interested in everyone else in its future and how other areas of media can both learn from the industry’s success and work with it in innovative ways like Marshmello’s ‘concert’.
But the future or even a future of live entertainment? I just couldn’t feel or see that so much but it wasn’t until I read David Turner’s always excellent Penny Fractions newsletter yesterday that I realised exactly why. I’d highly recommend reading the whole post (and indeed subscribing to the weekly newsletter) as he hit the nail right on the head when he says “Fortnite’s unique ability to build hype is what is being observed here, rather than the power of music.”
I think that’s exactly the point articulates what I was feeling - I get that Fortnite is a phenomenon, I get that there are exciting cross marketing options between it and musicians, but a future avenue for live music? No.
Just because so many games are now a communal experience does not mean they are in any way equivalent to the experience of a concert or a festival. Simply because there isn’t anything equivalent - it’s a unique music experience. An experience that can be wonderful and life affirming or boring and pointless, but one specific to music, one that is dependent and driven by being in the same physical space as both the artist and the audience.
I’m not saying none of those emotions and experiences can’t be translated in some form through other media and platforms, but the live music experience can and will never be wholly replicated in a digital/online/virtual/whatever form because they’re simply NOT THE SAME THING. Not now, not ever.