Last night's launch party for Gig-It, an online sim game that essentially swaps out FarmVille's crops for rappers, was music video lavish. It looked like its backers just listened to the radio for 30 minutes, said Hire them all!, and then smoked some blow out of a rolled up bitcoin. But what... is Gig-It?
More importantly, how is Gig-It spending so much money? The artist lineup was astounding: T-Pain, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Pusha T, Raekwon, French Montana, 2 Chainz, Fabolous, Nas, Miguel, and Elle Varner. And Randi Zuckerberg. That's a better get than most actual music festivals. Add up their booking fees (top tier people like this easily command tens of thousands of dollars for a quick set), throw in booze and a downtown Manhattan venue, and you're probably well over half a million dollars. They probably threw Randi some gift cards or something, too.
But, for what? The concept here is simple, and an old one: take a company nobody knows anything about, throw money (and starpower) at it, and suddenly people will be talking about your non-entity. It's worked before! Briefly, before these companies look back and realize they should've spent more money on their actual thing than on a party for that thing. Particularly in Gig-It's case. The company is leaning its entire image on not being FarmVille—last night's fete was emblazoned with the hashtag #THISAINTNOFARM. That's smart, because FarmVille is the agrarian emblem of a company in decline. But is it true? Gig-It lets you manage a concert the way you'd manage a farm, adding in streaming tunes. It's not a clone by any means, but Gig-It is in dangerous, disproven waters when it starts talking about "3D avatars," a perennial startup kiss of death.
None of this mattered last night, because everyone was rolling around in money is as real as these creepy computer renderings of 2 Chainz and Miguel.
Update: A friend from a major recording label provides a little detail:
Word on the street is all those artists have deals with Gig-It so that may have played a factor. I would go out on a limb and guess at the least most of them cost 25k each. Some like Nas or 2 Chainz might be significantly higher. But it looked like a pretty pricey show.