To those looking to debut new music during a concert set, Travis Scott has a solution: QR codes, delivered by a legion of gigantic overhead drones.
Scott, the music industry’s unofficial king of brand deals and promotional stunts, debuted upcoming single “Escape Plan” during his set at the Rolling Loud music festival this weekend, and to further hype the new track, he commissioned advertising platform MilkMoney for a too-big-to-miss QR code lining the festival sky, made possible by 250 flying drones. Concert-goers who scanned the code were taken to a pre-save link for the single, which doesn’t yet have an official release date. Scott’s reps tell Rolling Stone that the rapper is the first artist to tease new music through this type of technology, but did not share the cost of the project or the number of fans who actually scanned the QR code. The drones also came together to form a giant Cactus Jack logo during the set.
“Everyone knows Travis Scott is one of the best performers in the game, but on Saturday night he took it to another level. Dropping new music and giving fans direct access to the song through a drone installation is unheard of and MilkMoney and Travis made it happen,” Rolling Loud co-founder and co-CEO Tariq Cherif said in a statement.
The gimmick, to be clear, is just the latest in Scott’s ever-expanding empire of zany mad-lib track promotion. Last year, he debuted “Franchise” on the heels of his partnership with McDonald’s, which also saw the rapper selling merchandise including t-shirts and hoodies along with an immensely popular $90 McNugget body pillow. He also premiered “The Scotts” during his infamous Fortnite concert, Astronomical, slingshotting the single to a Number One debut and helping launch a trend of artists putting on concerts inside video games — a strategy that became paramount since touring revenue was sidelined for more than a year during the pandemic — and otherwise partnering with gaming companies on new initiatives.
Considering his own prior stunts, Scott’s “Escape Plan” promotion is comparably tame. It’s unclear how many artists will want to replicate such a spectacle in their own sets, but as the live music business comes roaring back, industry insiders expect more artists to try out more immersive experiences that can grab listeners’ attention in fresh ways. The best livestreams of the quarantine era found novel ways to rope audience members into the performances themselves, and more artists will be looking to bring that type of experimental tech to the in-person concert experience as well.