Travis Scott Reflects on Record-Breaking 'Fortnite' Performance: 'I've Been Having These Ideas Since 'Rodeo''

Travis Scott broke 'Fortnite' records with his art-forward approach to in-game performances. Now, the music and gaming industries are looking to the future.


Image via Getty/Frazer Harrison


For more involved fans of music, the loss this year of the serenity found exclusively at live performances has been a particularly painful pill to swallow. And with traditional tours on pause until at least 2021, artists and fans alike have taken their inventive approach to artistic interaction to a variety of other mediums, perhaps most prominently resulting in the rise of in-game performances. The most fascinating example of this, of course, is the Travis Scott x Fortnite experience that's the subject of a new Billboardfeature out on Friday.


For La Flame, the future-minded performance represented the culmination of ideas he's been aiming to bring to life since the Rodeo era.

"I've been having these ideas since Rodeo [his 2015 debut album]," Scott said in the feature from writer Tatiana Cirisano. "I'm just now being able to get it going."

The piece also lays out a deep-dive into the broader industry of in-game musical performances, a practice that indeed preceded virus-inspired indoor lifestyles but has hit a noticeable stride in recent months thanks to continued social distancing and other recent examples of success from 100 gecs, Charli XCX, Diplo, and more.

I spent two months (!) reporting on the intersection of music and gaming, speaking to travis (!!) among a dozen other people making strides in the space. for a research nerd like me who loves *nothing* more than a big project, this one was a dream. ✨🎮👾🎮✨

— Tatiana Cirisano (@tatianacirisano) July 24, 2020

Many in the gaming industry, as well as the music industry, are putting a great deal of weight behind in-game shows similar to Scott’s as a viable way forward for the future of live performances. And while Scott concedes that the experience doesn't top that of a traditional tour show, the possibilities for design—no longer bound to the limits of reality—gives artists an unparalleled opportunity for top-tier creativity and invention. 

"I was in the game. That was me," Scott joked of the possibilities. “No, I'm telling you—it’s this new thing I’m working on." Scott also explained that he felt a sense of global focus during Astronomical, which is part of why he's planning to put together another experience for fans.

"Whether it was the gaming community or people that don't even play games, there was definitely a sense of, 'People around the world right now are locked in and focused,'" Scott said. "I watched it, and I raged out till I passed out."

Scott's Astronomical event ultimately lasted for less than 10 minutes, yet still went down in Fortnite history as the biggest-ever in-game gathering. Initial attendance numbers measured 12.3 million concurrent players, with 27.7 million unique players ultimately joining across the five total airings of the special over three days.

As for the money behind these experiences, which can benefit from significantly lower overhead than putting together a spectacle in the so-called real world, Scott—though neither he nor his team addressed this—is said to have "potentially" bagged a fee "closer to half a million" than the estimated $50,000 to $350,000 sources say are handed out upfront to artists for in-game performances.


Peep the full feature, which also includes comments from EA president Steve Schnur and more, here.

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