Many of us in the music industry first heard about Roblox from the children in our lives, when we spotted our own kids or those of friends and family getting absorbed in the platform. It turns out the same might be true for Elton John.
“I’ve seen the joy that Roblox has bought to my boys and the possibility it creates by the ability to interact with fans in such an exciting, and forward looking way has been mind- blowing to me,” said John in a statement accompanying the launch of his own branded Roblox experience this morning.
It’s called Elton John Presents ‘Beyond The Yellow Brick Road’ and it’s part digital museum / fashion exhibition, part game, and part concert venue. The experience is already live, but the 10-minute concert performances will kick off in-world on 17 November, with hourly re-airings until 20 November.
It seems a carefully thought-out project. First, it’s a collaboration with more than 20 of Roblox’s ‘community developers’ (i.e. regular users who know their way around its creation tools), so it’s properly rooted in the platform.
Second, there’s a callback to the physical world: a collecting-competition mechanic that will see visitors’ Roblox avatars integrated into John’s final LA concert on 20 November. Third, there is the promise of “new experiences, music, fashion and more” in the future, rather than leaving the experience un-updated after its initial events – a fate that has befallen most Roblox music activations so far.
Oh, and fourth, you get to try on classic Elton John outfits, which are a perfect fit for Roblox’s colourful dress-up culture. And of course, that opens up the kind of virtual-merch sales opportunity that the likes of Lil Nas X and Zara Larsson have already enjoyed so lucratively.
Having spent a while exploring the experience this morning (duck costume and piano glasses purchases included) it genuinely does look a cut above most music Roblox experiences we’ve seen. The main question is how strong a crossover there can really be between Elton John fans and Roblox players.
How many of Roblox’s core (very young) demographic will really tear themselves away from games like Adopt Me!, Brookhaven, MeepCity and Piggy to visit ‘Beyond The Yellow Brick Road’? How many Elton fans who haven’t used Roblox before will really a.) want to sign up for it and b.) last long enough through the learning curve to enjoy the experience?
Well, we’ll find out. What’s good is that this experience isn’t a half-hearted will-this-do attempt to explore Roblox for a big artist. It’s an ambitious (and yes, well-funded) swing at the metaverse that could nudge future musical experiences to continue upping their game.
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