Music Monday: Fortnite and Marshmello – I Have No Idea What’s Going on Here

It seemed perfect; it was time for my Music Monday blog post, and there was a story about music in today’s Wall Street Journal. Should have been a no-brainer.

Except for when I read the story, I felt like I was the no-brainer since I had no idea what I had just read.

Here’s an excerpt:

For 10 minutes on Feb. 2, the shooter videogame put away its guns and transported players to a live virtual performance by the electronic-dance producer, who was visible as a digital avatar, with his signature marshmallow helmet.

The shooter videogame being referenced is Fortnite. I’ve certainly heard of it, but I’ve never seen it being played, let alone tried it myself.

And the electronic-dance producer is Marshmello, and not only was I not familiar with Marshmello’s music, I had never heard of him. So the first thing I did was try to look him up, and this is what I found, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Christopher Comstock (born May 19, 1992), known professionally as Marshmello, is an American electronic music producer and DJ. Marshmello wears a marshmallow mascot head for public appearances. He was named by Forbes in eighth place in their annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid DJs in 2017 as he earned $21 million in the twelve months before June 2017. Apparently there’s money in wearing a marshmallow-shaped helmet when you are out in public. Here’s a picture of Marshmello:

During the Marshmello concert, which attracted millions of viewers, the creators of Fortnite prevented participants from participating in the traditional competitive “Fortnite” experience for 10 minutes. Instead, players were placed in front of a virtual stage, where they danced and were thrown in the air in time with the music’s thumping beats. While millions saw the concert, individuals experienced it with a few dozen other players, similar to how “Fortnite” divides players into 100-person matches.

Marshmello performed live from a studio, playing his hit songs and urging the audience to dance. The concert was free, though players could buy virtual costumes, weapons, and dance moves specially designed for the event. A costume with a marshmallow head cost $15. A Marsh Walk dance move, also known as an emote, went for $5.

Here’s the video from the performance, which has been viewed over 22 million times.

Analysts at Loup Ventures estimate the Marshmello promotion racked up more than $30 million in sales of virtual goods, compared with between $5 million and $10 million on a typical day.

And what did Marshmello get out of it?

According to Midia Research analyst Mark Mulligan, “instead of playing to an audience of existing fans, Marshmello was handed, on a plate, millions of new fans in an instant, who felt like they were part of something.” Data from Nielsen Music suggests Marshmello’s set was a hit. Online listening to the DJ’s music skyrocketed following the event, including a 241-fold increase for video streams of “Check This Out”—one of the songs he performed during the concert.

It seems like a long way from going to a live concert, surrounded by 20,000 other screaming fans.

But if this kind of virtual event brings people together to share a musical experience and perhaps be exposed to a new genre of music, then that seems like a good thing.

*image from Wall Street Journal

2 thoughts on “Music Monday: Fortnite and Marshmello – I Have No Idea What’s Going on Here

  1. Not my cup of tea, but I can see how creating this shared experience makes gamers feel less alone and more connected with each other and thus would find it appealing/validating.

    It’s great how music & dance brings like-minded people together and helps us all feel connected.
    And now we’ve added to the # of views–out of curiosity, not fandom. I know I’m not the first in an older generation to dislike the music of the young, and that’s ok: “Seek not to be understood but to understand.”

    But I do find it interesting that so many young people today are fans of our old rock music, so different than the overly synthesized (IMHO) music of today.

    I’m reading Dan Levitian’s This is your brain on music, which explains why and how different beats, tones, rhythms, instruments appeal to us, yet share similarities even as they sound so different. This is true whether we’re listening to classical or rock or punk or nursery songs. Music is good for our brains, provided it is the right music _for us_.

    Good for you for trying to understand this phenomenon of music for video games. Sometimes I hear my son (who has autism) playing a computer game and I enjoy the sound of those tunes. One song is an instrumental version of Sugar, sugar by The Archies. Then when we’re playing tennis and listening to oldies music, the original version comes on my Pandora bluetooth speaker –my son gets a big smile on his face and starts stomping his feet to the beat and dancing. It’s so fun and music adds such joy to our lives. He did not used to be able to keep a beat but since he’s been doing music therapy 2x a month, he has improved.
    Dan Levitin’s book explains why this is, how brain damage can harm our ability to keep a beat but how the rest of the brain can learn to take over for the damaged parts.
    His book is fascinating reading! You’re never too old or young to benefit from the miracle of music.


    1. You have quite the eclectic reading list. I agree that there is something magical about music; it’s one of the reasons I started my Music Monday series. It’s been a nice way to force myself to listen to just more than my favorite 70s rock. I always think it is amazing that when I hear a song on the radio from 40 plus years ago, I somehow remember most of the lyrics. (What I was doing last Tuesday, not so much.) I love that your son is a fan of Sugar, Sugar; it’s one of our family’s favorite songs as well. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an instrumental version of it. I think at some point you need to write a blog post that provides a quick summary of all the interesting books you’ve read over the past few years. I know I would personally enjoy reading such a post.


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