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Fortnite showed us the future of live music

The other day, the electronic musician Marshmello, real name Christopher Comstock — who wears a white, marshmallow-shaped helmet on his head while he’s performing or in public (and at presumably no other times) — stopped by Pleasant Park for his biggest performance yet: to 10 million virtual people in the massively popular battle royale game Fortnite. It was, by all accounts, a resounding success. Players loved the 10-minute, no-weapon experience, and according to the concert discovery service Songkick, the event drove a 3,000 percent page view increase on Marshmello’s page and made him the most visited artist on the platform.

“Marshmello has had more fans looking for tickets on Songkick during the past 4 days than he’s had over the past 3 months combined,” the company wrote in a blog post. According to Social Blade, the social media analytics company, Marshmello saw a 62,000 follower increase on Twitter and a 5,200 growth on Twitch the day after the concert; two days after that, Comstock gained nearly 260,000 new followers on Instagram. Those gains were his biggest single-day follower jumps in February. Comstock was enthused, too. “Holy!!! We just made history today. We can all tell our kids one day that we attended the first ever virtual concert @FortniteGame,” he tweeted that afternoon.

Comstock corrected himself shortly thereafter; though it was probably the largest virtual show in history, the concert in Fortnite certainly wasn’t the first. There’s a rich history of concerts happening in virtual spaces, going all the way back to the early 2000s.

In the early 2000s, after the dot com bubble had burst and before the financial crisis caused by subprime mortgages and greedy bankers ravaged America, there flared a quiet moment of techno-optimism. It

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