With the music industry being more fragmented than ever, youth culture has focused on an industry that is arguably more unified, the gaming industry. While 2020 was a year of uncertainty, the 12 months where we saw the coronavirus was also where video gaming became the pop culture phenomenon of all time, even overtaking music. But is this really the case? While only now we’ve seen prominent musicians connecting with their fans on a more personal level via social media, this something that gamers have been doing for a long time on platforms like Twitch. Why is gaming actually the new pop music?
The Engagement With Fans
Amazingly, there are gamers like PewDiePie who are more recognizable than athletes like LeBron James (albeit only by males in Generation Z). The video games industry took $180 billion in 2020, and compare this to the $23.1 billion in music industry revenue, and gaming has completely overtaken it. And this can be to do with many things, but platforms like Twitch have made it a more accessible domain.
The very nature of being a gamer is almost akin to being an athlete, however, if you are looking to start, all you need is a platform like Twitch and a couple of production values with some good Twitch music, and you are set. Compare this with a musician that has to ply their craft. Someone like Justin Bieber used YouTube to become who they are today, but it was all predicated on the skills he had as a young music prodigy, being abundantly gifted on many musical instruments. As he started doing cover versions of songs, deals were offered to this young Canadian, but this was all based on skill. When you think about learning an instrument, it can be painstaking, but for somebody who wants to get into gaming, they don’t need to necessarily learn like they would an instrument at the outset.
The Isolated Nature of the World
Music is an intimate art form, but popular music is for mass consumption. We have seen this through from rock and roll all the way through to modern pop, where the idea is that music brings people together. But now, we are in an age where we have all been forced into our homes, which is why people are taking solace in gaming. Also, the gaming industry has become a bigger draw due to the affiliations with high-profile music and movie stars. The game Cyberpunk 2077 had a soundtrack by Grimes and A$AP Rocky and starred Keanu Reeves. But while the game flopped, the game still sold 13 million copies. Compare this to album sales, and it is leaving music in the dust. It’s safe to say that because of lockdowns and quarantines, people are retreating to the safety of their consoles. The intimate nature of playing video games, but also the option to be more social with it means that it’s an art form that you can customize to your needs. Is gaming the new pop music? It certainly seems so.