Is Roblox The New MTV?

Assessing music promotion in the metaverse

Welcome to Issue #4 of Appetite for Distraction, a newsletter exploring how technology is bridging the gap between art and commerce. My goal is to make this a resource that cuts through the noise; helping creators and creative industry professionals make informed decisions. 

Thanks so much for subscribing, and please tell a few friends if you’d like! 

— Yash

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Assessing Music Promotion In The Metaverse

Last week, Tones & I promoted her song ‘Dance Monkey’ on Splash, a music creation app within Roblox. It included the creation of a venue, as well as a soundpack for Splash’s 21 million users to create remixes and perform to. The campaign was orchestrated by Popgun, a Brisbane based AI music creation startup.

Roblox’s link to pop culture has set it up to be a powerful promotional channel for the music industry. ‘Dance Monkey’ is this year’s second most streamed song on Spotify.   Younger fans prefer entertainment as a non-linear, collaborative experience rather than a linear,  prescriptive imposition.  Let’s unpack this — A legacy promotional channel like Instagram uses a linear feed and campaign success is based on impressions and click-through rates. In a non-linear promotional channel like Roblox, the music consumption experience is a contextual one. And Roblox can potentially power infinite contexts. Instead of giving fans a glimpse of their work, artists can invite fans into their world. 

Games are powerful drivers of commerce. Complex recently turned its fashion and music festival into a game. In-game promotion also opens up channels for virtual influencers like Lil Miquela who can hugely influence sales of virtual merchandise. 

Despite its obvious success, I see two potential challenges with in-game music promotion:

  1. Currently, Roblox has 120 million players. Games are created by professional developers as well as users. Although it democratizes game creation,  Roblox is prone to an extremely skewed winner-take-all effect

  1. In-game commerce targets a demographic susceptible to impulsive financial decisions and hence, commercial exploitation. Very young users usually have parental controls curtailing their online spending while older users are arguably more financially prudent. However, the fastest growing user demographic on Roblox is the 13+ age group which is exactly in between these two groups. The risk of exploitation may give rise to potential government intervention. The Chinese government recently issued regulations that among other rules, prevents minors from paying live stream influencers.   

Related Read: Roblox head of music tells labels and artists: 'We're open for business!

  • Roblox have hired Jon Vlassopolus as their global head of music to formulate a roadmap to harness the platform’s promotional potential.

(Side Note — the influence of gaming may also have an effect on the music creation process itself, with artists producing video game themed albums.) 


Spotify just invented AI technology that will police songwriter plagiarism  | Murray Stassen, Music Business Worldwide  

Spotify recently filed a patent for its ‘Plagiarism Risk Detector and Interface’.  It has the ability to take a lead sheet and use AI to detect whether it has substantial infringing elements -  outputting a detected level of plagiarism. A potential value add for songwriters and publishers. 

Chance The Rapper sued by ex-manager for millions  | Tim Ingham, Music Business Worldwide 

Pat Corcoran, Chance The Rapper’s ex-manager is suing him for $3 million in unpaid commissions. Tim Ingham breaks down the chronology of events that led up to the suit. This case underscores some of the challenges with the coveted artist + manager ‘lean’ business model.

BLACKPINK Announces THE SHOW Livestream  | Alex Young, Consequence of Sound 

BLACKPINK recently announced that they will perform a live streamed concert on the 27th of December, with tickets priced at $29.99 and $39.99. Their promotional campaign offers lessons in hype building and leveraging fandom. 

Merch Table | Hype Machine 

Hype Machine have created a tool called Merch Table that redirects you to the Bandcamp pages for artists on your Spotify playlists. Great way to support the artists you love! 

What I’m Reading 

LinkedIn's Alternate Universe  | Fadeke Adegbuyi, Divinations 

Brilliantly articulated article by Fadeke which describes the fragmented social mechanics of LinkedIn. A deep dive into how the so-called ‘professional’ network promotes irrelevant and unhealthy social behaviours. 

What I’m Listening To 

Skip to 18:00 for the interview with Joost van Dreunen who teaches a course on the video game industry at NYU’s Stern School of Business. 

I'd love to get some feedback on your experience reading the newsletter. It'll really help me focus on what you'd like to see more of, and what would be best left out.

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If You’ve Made It This Far.. 

You can make it all the way. 

What I’m Brewing — Colombian AA+ from Gigi Speciality Roasters 

Also check out James Hofmann’s lesson on dosing Espresso. 

Thank you so much for reading! If you want to get in touch, you can respond directly to this email or reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn. Always excited to meet like-minded humans! 

Until next week,

— Yash