Swedish pop star Zara Larrson says she’s made over £700,000 by selling digital merchandise on Roblox.
Larrson is perhaps best known for hits such as ‘Lush Life’, ‘Symphony,’ and ‘Ruin My Life’, but has also set up a neat side-line selling Roblox in-game items such as hats, backpacks and sunglasses.
“My jaw dropped when I heard,” she told the BBC.
The price of Larrson’s digital merchandise starts from less than £1, and has earned her over £740,000 ($1 million) since she joined the Roblox platform in May 2021.
Larrson first teamed up with Roblox during the pandemic – hosting a virtual “dance party” to launch her new album, ‘Poster Girl’ after real-life concerts were cancelled. The in-game event allowed players and fans to watch Larrson perform in-game, hanging out and taking part in an online scavenger hunt.
During the event, players could also purchase in-game merchandise such as outfits, hairstyles, dance moves and a customisable Zara Larrson avatar. Prices began at 60 Robux (around 67p) for smaller in-game items, with the Zara avatar selling for 400 Robux (£4.95).
“I didn’t really think much about it,” said Larrson. “It wasn’t really the motivation for the concert. I just wanted to connect with fans.”
After the success of her first event, Larrson now sees the value of in-game concerts, and says they could be a lifeline for musicians during a time when real-life concerts are difficult and online streaming royalties don’t compensate artists fairly.
“We all know this,” she explained. “Streaming services don’t pay the most.”
Larrson says that to make this kind of revenue via YouTube or Spotify “would take a long, long time and hundreds and millions of streams.”
But it’s more than just income – Larrson’s online show attracted more than 1.6 million Roblox players, who have visited her pink Swedish-lake house in the game more than 4 million times.
“A lot of young people are commenting on my social media, ‘Oh my God it’s the Roblox girl!’” she laughed. “It’s incredible. That’s how they found out about me even though I’ve been doing this for 10 years.”
Although the technology is still in its infancy, the number of in-game events is growing, with Roblox about to host its first virtual music festival.
“We’ve got close to 50 million people on the platform every day,” said Roblox global head of music, Jonathan Vlassopulos. “Once the penny drops that fans are hanging out for two or three hours a day in the metaverse, I think we’ll see an explosion of artists joining.”
“We’re not limited by gravity and space, so we can build magical worlds and more high fidelity [experiences].”
It’s not just the experience of an in-game concert, either – for many fans, it’s the chance to meet their idols, even if it’s just virtual.
“After my show, I wandered around the world and people were like, ‘Let me take a selfie with you!’” said Larrson. “I didn’t get it at first – but then they just put their avatar really close to mine and took a screenshot and that’s the selfie.”
“That could be hard for my generation to understand,” she added. “But for people who live their lives online and are being social online, it means as much to them as meeting me on the street. It’s really made me think about what touring could look like in the future.”
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