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If you haven’t heard of Felicia Day, The Guild or Second Life then you probably have arrived at the wrong destination. So let’s skip the pleasantries and cut straight to the good stuff. A co-worker of mine passed along a little Second Life video that came out last fall – recreating The Guild’s hilarious music video, “Do you want to date my avatar?” Taking things pretty literally, these “real” avatars put on a pretty good show.

Gotta love a little music in the metaverse. Creator Lowe Runo has a pretty decent collection of machinima music videos on his YouTube channel.

Of course, nothing compares to nerd-queen Felicia Day doing her thing for real. Anyone know how to get bite marks out of your knuckles?

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by Courtney Smith

The cornerstone of being an indie rock fan is having your taste in music constantly snarked on. The speed with which information is disseminated on the Internet has amplified indie snobbery and taken it one step further by giving everyone with an opinion a stage on which to express it. People go to music blogs, fromStereogum to Brooklyn Vegan, expressly to comment on bands selling-outs and to inform bloggers that their taste in music sucks. The newest, coolest thing changes literally from minute to minute. And the entire time that Mediafire and Last.fm have been growing in popularity with people who want to share their taste in music with friends, another internet indie cult has also been growing: a secret community of indie rock fans in Second Life.

This little known and rarely seen indie community got its first brand name endorsement when Vice UK agreed to allow Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life (SL), to use their name for an indie music and art island or, as they’re referred to in SL parlance, a “sim.” The place was built by avatar building team Kasabian Beck and Charlotte Bartlett. Bartlett initiated the partnership with Vice UK on behalf of Linden Labs and Beck imported his pre-existing virtual indie club Mixtape, its accompanying toilet karaoke room, and the Poperation art gallery to start the Viceland sim. He’s added a Manchester-reminiscent industrial waterfront, a series of hidden pirate radio rooms, and the Antigone theater, the latter aimed at hosting live bands like the Spanish shoegaze duo [engrama], who played a set there on June 3 as well as broadcasting VBS.tv shows like Soft Focus.

This is not the Vice brand’s first foray into virtual worlds. Virtue, the advertising and consulting arm of Vice US, partnered with MTV on their short-lived virtual world replication of New York’s Lower East Side in 2007. [Full disclosure: I worked at MTV and on the vLES project at the time, and that is how I found myself creating a Second Life avatar and devoting time to uncovering what exactly indie rock fans did in virtual worlds.]

It turns out that Second Life and indie rock are a great combination. If you want to be part of the indie community in Second Life, you have to really work for it. There aren’t constantly indie events you can just walk into, as if it were Twitter or a pick-up basketball game. The community is more akin to a series of underground nightclubs that you need to dress and act the part to be acknowledged in, except it’s full of computer nerds in a virtual world who also happen to be music connoisseurs. As an outsider, you not only have to locate these clubs, but keep coming back until you find people and then impress those people enough to be accepted. Things generally go down sometime between 5 and 11PM PST, which is referred to in-world as Second Life Time or SLT.

Musically, there is an ongoing competition amongst Second Life indie DJs to see who can play the newest stuff, or the best stuff, and even the longest stuff. In the fall of 2009, one DJ played for 26 straight hours without repeating a song. It was advertised as a charity fundraiser, but his now permanent hold on the longest straight time DJing in-world was the most discussed aspect of the stunt.

For the most part, the Internet makes it easy to find and market to the trendsetting indie demographic (just ask Mountain Dew and their Green Label, Toyota Scion at SXSW, or any record label who has ever bought an ad on Pitchfork). But in Second Life’s secret indie rock communities, there are no advertisers. The DJs are music lovers with no affiliations to labels or access to publicists. One DJ, whose avatar name is Oliver Wickentower, said, “In my ‘real’ life I’m the music guru to a lot of my friends. It’s cool that I can turn them on to music I like, but they rarely have anything to offer me. Music blogs are cool but the indie scene in Second Life is like an interactive music blog.”

So, now that you know they’re out there, where can you go to find these mavens of Second Life indie? We offer a club-by-club guide to the American indie scene so that you might pop into a place with the correct level of snobbery and eclecticism to suit you.

The Crow’s Foot — RIYL: Wilco, Black Lips, anything lo-fi

The place was opened by a longtime DJ and bearded avatar who looks a little like Jesus named Woodrow Stapleton. About building his club, he says, “I’m a big fan of vintage [so] I kind of went for a cross between a VFW hall and a hunting lodge.” And while he says anyone who wants to can DJ there, most of the regular DJs find the construction of their sets influenced by the Elks Lodge look of the place and gravitate towards dropping Flaming Lips and Girls tracks. It is perhaps the best place to get high and play SL.

The Velvet — RIYL: Big Star, Sleigh Bells, anything remixed by Fred Falke

Going to the Velvet is jumping off the deep end into the land of indie-snob smart asses. The DJs play whatever is brand new or incredibly obscure or both. It is the longest running indie club in SL, dating back to 2006, and the one where you are most likely to get snubbed for not getting the references. It is designed to look like the inside of a Replacements song circa 1983.

Mixtape @ Viceland — RIYL: Four Tet, Belle & Sebastian, JPop

There aren’t many DJs at Mixtape, because you have to be pretty impressive to be invited to take a regular slot. Proprieter Kasabian Beck specifically goes out looking for the weird and new, cramming everything into a small space so it always feels unique and intimate. It is best summed up by Beck himself: “I’ve always hated the idea that people say ‘I come to [Second Life] to get away from RL [real life]‘. Well, that’s total bullshit because here, just like in RL, there are assholes you don’t like, conversations you don’t want to hear, and people dressed funny.” If you get dressed up funny late on a Saturday night, you can find indie rock karaoke here.

Bombay (b)Indie — RIYL: Neko Case, Smashing Pumpkins, New Pornographers

They skew a little older and a little more West Coast at Bombay. They want to be nice to you and play you KEXP-approved music, making themselves the Stereogum of SL indie. Everyone wants something different on the Internet, and those who skip reading blog comments because they think the trolls are too mean will enjoy Bombay the most.

Alt7 — RIYL: Coldplay, Oasis, Snow Patrol

Always the “indie” club with the most traffic and the most boring music. They have a ton of DJs playing at all hours, which keeps a lot of people coming through. They also play the most mainstream, uncool music. It is probably not even a cool enough joint for Zach Braff to start his career as an avatar there.

This article originally appeared on Flavorwire. Thank you, Courtney, for letting me repost. Follow her on Twitter here.

Pioneers of the Metaverse

I get very excited about musical elements in virtual worlds. Well duh, otherwise I wouldn’t blog about this stuff now would I? So the usual process is finding something musically related to virtual worlds and then telling you all how cool it is and why. Or sometimes just going into journalist mode and statin’ the facts.

So rare is it to come across something that earns an eye roll yet Rocktropia, the new music virtual world from NEVERDIE Studios, earns just that. Yes, this is the same Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs – famous for purchasing a virtual asteroid in Entropia for $100,000.

A minor profit and one crappy song later, he’s built a planet in the Entropia Universe and labeled it the “1st Virtual Music World” which, of course, is a ridiculous lie. The world is billed as a way for artists to share and listeners to discover but  it looks like an over-glossy romp in an 1980’s metal band album cover. Screenshots and video released about world show avatars with bad 90’s rock haircuts running around with guns and shooting virtual vixens in the crotch. What does any of that have to do with an immersive music discovery experience?

Motorhead signed on to the project with lead singer Lemmy Kilmister having his own dark castle in the Rocktropia planet. If a world is attempting to become a musical destination for discovering new music and for new artists to profit, there needs to be a focus on music that is relevant and um, new.

As a lover of music in virtual worlds, you’ll have to forgive me for being such a hater about it. Everyone should be entitled to their own place and voice in the Metaverse. Rocktropia will appeal to 35+ metaverse metal heads but the realm is far from revolutionary or original. Feel free to check it out and let me know if I’m just being an ass!

Apparently the Mayor likes The Smiths as much as I do

TechCrunch reported on a pretty cool little announcement yesterday:

Universal Music Group (UMG) has struck a deal with Conduit Labs, a startup that creates musical social games, to provide users with access to UMG’s library of licensed music from the record label’s artists such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna and others. The partnership will extend to all 1 million users of Conduit Labs’ games, including Music Pets, Super Dance and Loudcrowd, to access the tracks.

Forgive my lack of eloquence but… Conduit Labs FTW! The previously mentioned Loudcrowd is a very cool social gaming site where users could play DDR-esque dances for each other to an electro-heavy soundtrack featuring the likes of Justice and Chromeo. I posted about the game last year on this blog and was very excited about what they were offering. Still, with limited music distribution rights the game limits its demographic. Whether or not Conduit Labs will introduce their new tracks to Loudcrowd remains to be seen, as it might be a betrayal of the niche, but they’ve already made their way into the company’s latest project Music Pets.

This is where I digress for a moment and gush about Music Pets. It is a social game/virtual world Facebook app that lets users take care of a pet whose sole motivation in life is to jam out to tunes, eat food and then keep jamming out to more tunes. You can train your pet through an awesome mini-game to acquire your music taste, and then have it fetch new tracks for you to listen and share with your friends. Gaming, music discovery, sociability… it’s all there and it’s all awesome. The UMG deal has opened up a large plethora of options for Music Pets – my pet was able to jam to everything from The Smiths to Burt Bacharach to La Roux.

Thus far I’ve stayed far the hell away from most Facebook apps, including Farmville, but the attraction and playability of Music Pets is undeniable. The 1 million other users who signed up in the first month agree.

Is this the gamification of music discovery? Or is the musicification of social gaming? I kid, I kid… but this new deal with UMG makes a game like Music Pets a serious competitor to a music discovery platform like Pandora. The social game doesn’t have near the depth of selection offerings you’ll see in Pandora – but if this proves to be a success you can expect to see the spectrum widen immensely. We’ve seen major record labels partner with virtual worlds and social gaming before (Planet Cazmo) and UMG’s agreement shows a continued interest in pursuing these spheres as viable marketing tools.

Oh, and did you notice my Music Pets animal is an adorable freaking panda bear? Music, virtual worlds and pandas: there are few things better in this life.

A couple days ago, Virtual Worlds News announced a partnership between Planet Cazmo and the ‘Better-than-T-Pain’ (my phrase)  iPhone app, Ladida, for a song writing contest.

Virtual world Planet Cazmo and LaDiDa have partnered to launch a song-writing contest. LaDiDa works on a “reverse karaoke” system that lets users sing into their iPhone application while the software composes a song to match, adding in pitch correction and reverb to tweak the song towards professionalism. Once users have written their songs, they can email it to Cazmo straight from the app when it will be reviewed by staff for content and then voted on by members to select 5 songs for the virtual concert finale.

Um, this could be one of the coolest moves by a music-themed virtual world in the short history of music-themed virtual worlds. Planet Cazmo has already made its mark with virtual concerts by superstars like Michael Jackson and Sean Kingston, among others. Now they’re putting the spotlight back on the kiddos.

So what if you can’t sing? Witness the power of Ladida….

While a few virtual worlds allow the user to create music using a provided toolset, this will be the first event to include real voice talent from the players. Here’s to hoping this works out well for Planet Cazmo. While I’m all about bringing superstar entertainment to a different medium, I’m much more about giving kids their chance to be their own superstars. Good move, Planet Cazmo.

Now this begs the question – will this marketing campaign produce the next Justin Bieber?

Music, the metaverse and pandas… thus the circle is complete.

I’m resurrecting this bad boy from the dead. You’ll notice my last post here came in August, shortly before I moved to Dallas for Webosaurs. Since then I’ve been busy with the day to day of work and all of my blogging attention focused on the Webosaurs blog, Metaverse Mod Squad company blog and now writing for Ypulse.

Still, my passion for Music and the Metaverse remains strong and I believe it’s important to maintain something personal and free. Do I have any clear-cut objectives for the resurrection of my blog? Not especially. I’m here to blog about music, the metaverse, pandas and anything that blends those elements. If you are a music loving tech-geek, virtual world enthusiast, whatever – this is your spot.

Now, in celebration of bringing the Electric Panda back to life I’d like to offer a couple tracks from the electrifying mashup duo The White Panda. These guys are mashup machines who are creating some of the best dance tracks out there on the web. I’m sure to do a dedicated post on them at some point in the future but they qualify under music and pandas so I feel this is more than appropriate.

The White Panda – “Sweetest Fascination”

The White Panda – “Intergalactic Spell”

A new study released by Jupiter Research suggests that digital music sales will offset physical cd sales losses by 2010. Here are the main conclusions and forecast provided by the study from paidcontent.org:

EU/US/UK: Jupiter reckons only eight percent of online Europeans buy music on the net compared to 15 percent in the US. While digital makes up five percent of EU sales, it’s 13 percent in the US. But the UK will lead Europe, contributing 44 percent of all digital music revenue. In Europe, some 285 online stores are chasing 1.4 million euro ($2 million) annual revenues, but are getting far less thanks to iTunes Store’s dominance.

Projection: A fifth of online Europeans will buy their music online by 2012, Jupiter reckons, making a quarter of all music sold digital.

US digital music sales growth has slowed while UK has almost doubled, but that’s after two years where the US digital music sales market has grown about 100% and 50% in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Digital music sales now represent about 10% of the overall music market in the US, but you have to keep in mind the strong presence of illegal file sharing.

You may ask yourself, where am I going with all this news and stat reporting? For lack of a better segue, the study gives more credence to the continued growth of virtual goods as a viable market. In my industry, virtual goods are essentially the backbone of most revenue models and without them the sites wouldn’t exist.

Obligatory graph of virtual goods growth that essentially means nothing

Obligatory graph of virtual goods growth that essentially means nothing

Still, many remain skeptical about virtual goods as something to invest in for the long run. Before I continue this discussion I’d like to establish a definition for “virtual good” :

A virtual good is an intangible good bought and sold over the internet that either provides a service, entertainment value, or enhances the experience of the purchaser in whatever interactive environment they’re operating in.

If anything, music is the ultimate virtual good. Music not only provides entertainment value but will enhance the user experience no matter what someone is doing. Essentially, music has always been a virtual good. Only the instruments and discs used to play it are tangible, the product itself isn’t.

With iPods, we have music at our fingertips in just about any situation. With the advent of smartphones, we have just about every thing at our fingertips. Email, maps, instant messenger are all available to us. It’s this idea of the Culture of Connectivity that explains why virtual goods are important and will continue to be more important. The more services that move into the intangible virtual world of the internet creates more room for the need of virtual goods.

The growth of digital music sales is just one arena where this marketplace continues to grow.

This was an interesting find, a song from a real life rock band about the virtual world Second Life. A new band backing a karoake competition winning singer is banking their superstardom on “I found paradise in my Second Life.” Tarsha is a newly formed rock band based around the singing capabilities of vocalist Sheldon Tarsha.

I think Tateru Nino from Massively was just as surprised by this find as I was. In her post about the video, she says she doesn’t think the song will appeal to the 45+ demographic that constitutes a lot of the Second Life user group.

On a personal note, I think without the virtual world theme of the song I’d probably hate it. The video also has nothing to do with what he’s singing about. Either way, it’s a real life production of something to do with Second Life and I have to give some props for that.

ODB was right - Wu Tang is for the children

ODB was right - Wu Tang is for the children

One our Webosaurs member’s name is Kilabeez. Just as I had hoped, his name is based off the Wu-Tang Clan. Pretty awesome for what I’m guessing is a 10-year-old. Anyways, he submitted these song lyrics to us and I couldn’t help but put them on the Webosaurs blog. Here they are for you in all their unadulterated glory (I’m Rex, btw).

Sung to the tune of Wu-Tang Clan’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”

Shimmy Shimmy Rawr!

Hey dinos, i like to rawrr.
Yeah dinos, i like to rawrrrrr
ooh dinos, i like to rawrr.

Shimmy shimmy ya, shimmy rawr, shimmy yay.
Gimme the mouse so i can play all day.

Off on a natural charge, bon voyage.
Yeah from the cave of the dinos, protectors squad.

Webo-saurs players we on the hunt.
You best believe we dinos ain’t no runts.

So play nicely cause you can’t touch my skill.
Don’t mess with us cause Kilabeez and Rex we so ill.

Just remember this and have fun.
Cause we dinos like to rawrrr.
Yeah we dinos love to rawrrrr.

Go to www.webosaurs.com to learn more about this wonderful virtual world for kids.

I was hoping I would never have to give the obligatory “sorry I haven’t posted” blog apology but here it is. I’ve been busy blogging for another project I’m currently working on and it’s cut into my time to post here. With that out of the way, let’s get on to the post.

On some levels, Second Life has always been a mirror of the real world. So when an entertainment icon like Michael Jackson passes away, you know avatars are going to pay tribute. I came across an article on Second Life Update posting a tribute video done by eeka Batz and ssmariner Flossberg, two notable names in the indie music scene. Honestly, this is the best one. Turns out most of SL’s Michael Jackson fans are blingtards, if you see where I’m going with this.

This next video is pretty blingtardy, but worthy of post for all the effort put into it. It’s a near-complete replication of the Thriller music video. Although I’m pretty sure MJ never had a buzzcut.

This isn’t the first time Thriller has made it’s way into Second Life. The following video is one of the older SL videos that has been going around the net. The dance animations are tops when it comes to the SL Thriller vids.

And there you go. I’ve been fighting the urge to do a Michael Jackson post since he died. After my little Electric Panda Blog siesta I certainly didn’t want to come back on this note but the opportunity was there. Viva la MJ!

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