Major Labels

The music industry is embracing Roblox despite alleged questionable practices

From major artists to major labels, the music industry is embracing Roblox. Warner Music Group even invested more that $10 million and has partnered with the startup.

Roblox is an online gaming and game creation platform that allows users to program and play games created by other users. More than 200 million play on Roblox monthly, making it the most popular video game platform in the U.S. and Europe.

In 2020, Roblox hosted its first virtual concert with Lil Nas X. In 2021, Swedish singer Zara Larsson performed songs at a virtual party and in September Twenty One Pilots took the virtual stage.

But critics say that Roblox doesn’t adequately protect its younger users from abuse or share enough income with the young user/developers who are the backbone of the platform.

Quintin Smith of People Make Games investigated Roblox in a series of YouTube videos.

“It’s arguably the world’s most successful example of the metaverse,” he says. “And it’s also kind of an interesting case study in why the metaverse might not quite be the sort of glittering dreamland that some tech entrepreneurs make it out to be.”

Smith interviewed young developers, some of whom dropped out of school to create games on Roblox. “Even though Roblox says to encourage you to actually make games, the likelihood of you making a successful game is basically zero,” one 11 year old developer told him.

His investigation also found that developers earn only 17 cents from Roblox for every $1 that goes into the platform. Other gaming platforms pay as much as 30%.

Smith told NPR about a 12-year-old girl who started working for a Roblox game creator in his 20s now accused of sending the underage girl sexual messages. She and her supporter spent a year trying to draw Roblox’s attention to evidence that this user was an abuser and got no response from the company.

But the abuser was making“Sonic the Hedgehog” games. So when Sega, the owner of Sonic, learned of the incidents they asked Roblox to take the games down “because they didn’t like this abuser making Sonic fan games” Roblox finally took action.

“But that, to me, shows that Roblox was able to act very, very quickly when a corporation got involved on an issue of copyright,” says Smith. “but was not apparently interested in a year’s worth of desperate messages from young people asking them to take action.”

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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