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POST & TRAVIS TAP IN

As the world enters the second month of quarantining, artist-to-fan engagement has been transformed into livestreams, FaceTimes, Zoom chats or recorded at-home performances. Many artists are turning to frequent livestreams—with or without performance—to promote, engage and attract fans. But given the volume of such content, how do artists cut through the noise? Aside from the televised charity specials broadcast on the major networks, most livestreams have yet to move the needle.

But most artists aren’t Post Malone and Travis Scott, the biggest hip-hop-adjacent headliners to ascend to superstardom over the last two years. Instead of engaging with a barrage of content, Republic's Post and Epic's Travis opted for grand, focused presentations. Scott's Fortnite concert event, fittingly dubbed Astronomical, reset the bar for virtual events. Epic Games and Cactus Jack collaborated to create a new universe for fans to follow Scott, listen to his hits, hear the world premiere of “THE SCOTTS,” and, of course, rage.

Astronomical ended up setting a record for a Fortnite event, beating Marshmello’s groundbreaking concert with a new high of 12.3m users playing and viewing the show. Across five separate Fortnite events—billed as a “tour”—Astronomical had over 27m unique players participate live for a total of 45m in-game viewers. 

To borrow a term from the data analysts, that's fucking bananas.

While there wasn’t a fee associated from the Fortnite concert series, Scott’s catalog has seen a serious uptick as a result. “Highest in the Room” and “SICKO MODE” have re-entered the top of the DSP charts and 2016 hit “goosebumps” has returned to reach new peaks inside the Top 10 at Spotify. And his new song is set for a #1 debut. The larger implications for his brand, of course, extend well beyond the surge in streams.

Malone, inspired by receiving more than $800k in donations for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for The World Health Organization during his recent Nirvana tribute livestream, is offering to donate up to $1m to causes dear to his fans.

“Not everyone has the ability to financially support causes that may be close to them or that have helped them in the past. The fans are the absolute best and I want to give them the chance to give to charities that mean something to them.” says Post.

Submissions can be texted to his Community phone number, (817) 270-6440.  Malone is looking to support areas such as COVID-19 frontline responders, disaster relief, education, homelessness, hunger, mental health and veterans.

Post Malone opted for a less grand approach, but displayed his familiar instinct for raucous spectacle. Simply billed as a Nirvana tribute, Posty’s “Stay Home and Jam With Me” had an air of mystery when announced. But when the YouTube stream started and fans saw Malone in a flower dress, strapped with a Les Paul, they knew they were getting the sort of raw, plugged-in, grungy energy that's been missing in this social-distancing era. The New York Times raved, “What made Post Malone’s live stream stand out amid the sudden glut of self-recorded quarantine content was, quite simply, how good it sounded, how closely it approximated that now-rare experience of seeing a rock band playing music in front of you really, really loudly. That it was a rock band that had run through these songs only “probably two times” before and was fronted by Post Malone turned out to be shockingly incidental. Rich and jagged, the guitar tones were just right. One got the sense, whether or not he’d admit it, that the “In Utero” engineer Steve Albini may have almost approved.”

The 15-song tribute raised over $4 million for the World Health Organization (according to TMZ) and even got approval from Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, tweeting “They are on fire!!!!” Malone’s set is still available on YouTube and now has over 8m views.

These two concerts, along with the success of SuperM’s huge paid concert stream, demonstrate what's possible when artists deliver unique livestream performances that scratch an itch for their followers. Bedroom live sessions are warm and intimate, but they’re not substitutes to fill the concert event void. The desire to be a part of something grand and even exclusive will always burn inside music fans.

Now if you'll excuse us, we're going to start our 17-hour prog-rock ukulele marathon. Don't skimp on the digital tip jar, fam.

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