Travis Scott’s Manager David Stromberg On Fortnite Concert’s ‘Astronomical’ Success (Q&A)

Travis Scott
– Travis Scott

What Travis Scott and his team accomplished with his Fortnite integration was quite literally “Astronomical,” the wildly appropriate name of the rapper’s in-game video performance. With nearly 28 million unique participants tallying more than 45 million views, setting Twitch on fire while live gaming, merch sales reportedly in the tens of millions of dollars and a No. 1 single the week after with “The Scotts,” a collaboration with one of his major influences Kid Cudi on Epic Records —all during a global pandemic!?—is next level music industry business. It should be studied closely as a way forward for other artists looking for alternative ways to promote and monetize while touring and promotion right now is limited at best. Pollstar caught up with Travis Scott’s manager, David Stromberg of Cactus Jack, to find out how it all came together. 

Cover Pollstar for May 11
– Cover of Pollstar for May 11

Read Pollstar‘s ‘Game Changer’ Cover Story
on Travis Scott HERE.

Pollstar: The scope, ambition, innovation and success of Travis Scott’s integration with Fortnite has set a new paradigm for the business and how it can optimally operate even in these challenging times, how and when did the idea for doing a Fortnite concert come about?

David Stromberg: We worked on it for a while and in all honesty it was something we had been developing extensively but really accelerated when everything shut down. Everyone recognized this was an incredible opportunity to introduce something special in these uncertain times  

Who was on the team for this and how was Travis involved?
Travis and our Cactus Jack creative team worked closely with Epic Games on conceptualizing and execution. With any project Travis always has final creative control, but we wanted to learn as much about the Unreal Engine and Fortnite world as possible to create authentic brand alignment

What was the strategy and goals for the initiative?

Our main goal was to translate Travis’ larger than life aesthetic and dynamic live performances to a digital, global audience while simultaneously launching new verticals. Basically we wanted to create an opportunity for millions of kids around the world to experience possibly their first concert and for core fans to participate in a new, innovative format. Debuting a song in the game and releasing it day and date was another aspect that hasn’t really been done before at this level. To see “THE SCOTTS” debut at #1 was amazing proof of concept.  We also got a lot of really interesting data from the whole initiative

Though the execution appeared flawless, what were the biggest challenges you faced with this initiative?

Definitely adapting to working from home like everybody else. Epic Games team did an incredible job coordinating developers working from home all over the world including China
What was it like for you personally when it was happening, what were you doing?
I was at the show with Travis and our friends.  Just holding my breath hoping the servers didn’t crash

Travis Scott is known as a leader in the merch space, how did it go in translating his aesthetic and brand into the Fortnite space?
Travis is really hands on with merch design and wanted to create a collection for the Fortnite experience similar to actual concert merch. Some of the best selling items were the “tour tees” from the show. His fans gravitate to experiential items that convey “I was there”, in this case even in the digital realm. As far as the overall brand we worked closely with Epic Games to storyboard and introduce iconic imagery from Travis’ world into Fortnite 

Are other people in the industry reaching out to you to find out how to get into the video game space and follow this model?
My phone went crazy after the event. People I haven’t heard from in years sharing reactions from their kids was pretty cool. Some of my most respected mentors and innovators in the business reached out. I feel like we just scratched the surface of merging music, gaming and live events. I actually just read Sony is putting together a company specifically to build more events like this – they need to give us board seats!