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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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
Kids are starting to scare me.
I guess I should rephrase that to “kids are starting to amaze me.” The more I’ve been working with kid’s virtual world sites, the more I’m constantly amazed by their creativity and know how. Kids are even running their own blogs these days!
This came to mind when I came across this music video a Webosaurs user had created in-world. Flash wrote out the lyrics in-world, took screenshots and made a music video out of that. You have to check this out!
I’m impressed. He made the video in Webosaurs, a sick dinosaur virtual world for kids. Check it out!
Chase Straight is the Music Community Manager for Metavese Mod Squad
Warner Bros.’ Gossip Girl sims, also known as the Upper East Side, have been operating in Second Life for the last two years, the longest running corporate marketing campaign in virtual world history. With GossipGirl being the most popular last name in SL, and the sim boasting a 55% return rate (compared with 10% for the rest of Second Life), it is easily the most successful campaign as well. So when the members of this strong community learned of it’s impending closure over a week ago, they were heartbroken.
Admittedly holding back tears as she typed, Khai GossipGirl explains of the sims, “I’m really sad they’re leaving, it’s the only place like it in SL and nothing will ever be quite as good as GG.”
The Metaverse Mod Squad immediately went to work finding a place for the community to transition to, landing a secret location two weeks prior to closure, to ensure that the community had a place to land after closure. And while the residents knew the good times weren’t going to last forever, we at the Metaverse Mod Squad were determined to give the community an action packed last week filled with events, contests, and live performers. I asked our CEO Amy Pritchard why it was so important for us to throw such a blowout ending week for the community.
“I couldn’t give them gold watches,” she replied smiling.
It was a week-long party of the likes that Gossip Girl has never seen before. Usually the sims have three to four events a day put on by members of the Mod Squad and Gossip Girl officers, with live DJs three times a week and regular live performers. Metaverse Mod Squad upped the ante and scheduled DJs and performers at each and every event during the week, with about 1000L$ given away each day for contest prizes. It was incredible week with record attendance and some great feedback from the community.
“Ya’ll could just as easily not done anything special, but instead MMS made the last week of Gossip Girl really great,” secondlifename GossipGirl tells me over text chat, adding “it was a positive reinforcement of their awesomeness. All the mods that showed up who haven’t been here in a while makes it seem like they will miss Gossip Girl as much as we will.”
Tera Tilden, the project manager for Gossip Girl, who mods in-world as Harp Thursday says she never realized she could build such great bonds over the internet. After spending almost two years working in the sim, she says its like releasing her kids out into the “real world.”
“I never sat down and thought about me, really. I wanted to make sure everyone else had a great last week,” she said.
To end the final ten days of Gossip Girl, the Mod Squad threw an all day festival Monday with games, rides and vendors like Modd G, Doux Petit Dahl, With Sugar on Top, and many more. It was a celebration of all things Gossip Girl. Every vendor featured during the festival came to Second Life as a Gossip Girl, showing off the diverse talents of the community. Also, characters from the television show came in all at once for a meet and greet, delighting all the Gossip Girl fans. Residents hobnobbed with the avatars of Chuck Bass, Nate Archibald, Jenny and Dan Humphrey, Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen
The night capped off with a four performer concert series starting at 5pm. Maxx Sabretooth took the stage first, followed by CelticMaidenWarrior, Taunter Goodnight, and ending in a psychadelic particle fest from Thumper Boucher. It was an amazing event to be a part of, with as many as 60 people in attendance for the concerts at one time.
Thumper Boucher first came to the sim when he was contacted to replace a performer who had cancelled. He ended his career in Gossip Girl on the same note, coming to the rescue to finish off a concert filling in for a cancelled performer. Having played a scheduled gig in Gossip Girl the previous week, he was a big name in the final festivities. Boucher says he’s going to miss the sims as he’s always had a great time performing for the Gossip Girls.
“It was hearbreaking for sure. It’s a great build and a great bunch of people. It’s a shame when something with such a homey feel goes into the recycling bin for the server,” he tells me.
While the sims may be going down for good, the community is set to thrive in a new sim that the Metaverse Mod Squad has secured for them. The new place will include reproductions of some of the favorite spots of Gossip Girl, and the community members will be keeping the party going with morning coffee and regular events. The sim is going to be revealed shortly after this post, (For you readers it is the Chelsea sim, a region of Virtual London run by Debs Regent) but for now the Gossip Girls relive their favorite memories and share thoughts on what the Upper East Side has meant to them.
Kaira Cornonet shares, “I will forever be thankful for what this sim has done because I have met some of my best friends, both RL and SL, because of this place and they have forever changed my life.”
For about the last month, Koinup has been sponsoring the Rocking the Metaverse tour, the 1st ever cross-world music tour. Fittingly, the tour ended today in Twinity, making it the first ever live music event to hit the somewhat new virtual world. Twinity has a realistic take on virtual worlds, modeling its spaces after real world locations with the first being a replica of Berlin. A virtual Singapore and London are also on the way.
Second Life music stars Dizzy Banjo, Grace Mcdunnough, Slim Warrior and DoubleDown Tandino have been traversing the metaverse, bringing live music to Second Life, OpenSim, Metaplace and now Twinity. It’s been a groundbreaking tour, bringing fans of the musicians in Second Life across several virtual world platforms and now introducing the live music event to Twinity.
Folks in the virtual world business that I’ve talked to in the past sometimes speak of a future where there are no individual virtual worlds, just one main interface that all users connect to and interact. While this virtual “new world” will likely never come into existence as it is envisioned, Rocking the Metaverse is a good demonstration of a way that seperate clients can link and share content.
And as for Twinity, there is no news yet but I suspect the tour stop today will lead in to more live music events for the platform. Live music has been such a big part of the virtual world landscape that it seems only natural it should be brought into a fledgling one, especially one that is realistically modeled after real world locations. Imagine seeing your favorite band playing a concert in Singapore and you don’t even have to leave your laptop. While this may be the final stop for Rocking the Metaverse, it certainly isn’t the final stop in expanding the live music experience in virtual worlds.
Remember how much fun Addictinggames.com was back in the day? The site is still around and offers an impressive library of games to play, but companies are pushing the direction of casual gaming. In my industry, casual gaming is often incorporated into virtual worlds as things for people to do, but a new site (or at least new to me) offers a sizeable casual game portal as a way to advance ranking and increase currency.
Ourworld.com is a flash-based virtual world run by Flowplay that is pretty standard fare as far as those kinds of virtual worlds go. Avatars can explore different stylized sections of the world, express their fashion choices, go dancing, etc. What’s unique about the world is the way gamers progress, all by earning “Flow” which can then be used to play other games, resulting in more currency and advanced rankings.
Players can do this a number of ways from gaming to dancing and other social activities. The more interactive the activity is the more flow the players earn. What I’ve seen from the world is the gaming is probably the best part of the whole thing. I went to a couple fashion shows where attendees vote on avatars, but a lot of people in the crowd just kept asking when it was over.
The games though, are bad ass. I wasted way too much time throwing down on Bloons Tower Defense and Warlords, two of the new games being offered in the world. Beweled has also been recently introduced. The only problem with the games is that there isn’t a social aspect to them as there is no in-world multiplayer mode. Still, if you’re looking to pimp out your avatar, unlock furniture and other goods for your virtual apartment in this world, the gaming is a great way to do it. While a site like Addicting Games is still a lot of fun, at least in Ourworld it makes you feel like you’re “accomplishing” something.
Sony announced yesterday that the new MMO thats been whispered about is indeed a Final Fantasy game after all (w00t!), but aside from the trailer they offered little details about the new game. I’m letting out a big sigh of relief that they went with the Final Fantasy title. To be fair, Square Enix is great at making RPG’s, but nothing comes close to the Final Fantasy brand, arguably the best RPG titles ever created.
Luckily for Final Fantasy and MMO fans, Wired has reported on a Q&A at E3 today with Shinji Hashimoto, senior VP at Square Enix. The design for FFXIV will be the similar to FFXI but the gameplay is going to be reworked, allowing for a more creative style of gameplay. This means that whether you’re a lone ranger or like to team up with friends, you’re going to find a niche in the world that suits you. I think it’s a great move, both from a gameplay perspective and a business one. With franchises like Grand Theft Auto on the market, players are getting used to having freedom in their gameplay. Not only that, it will bring in more people who don’t necessarily have the time to schedule meet-ups with friends to complete challenges like in FFXI.
Lastly, I’m happy to hear that the new MMO will be back to a medievil motif unlike the highly anticipated single player FFXIII. Square Enix is great at sexing up knights and princesses in any kind of setting and I’m sure this one will be no different. Aside from those details, little else has been revealed about the gameplay. As always, Square Enix likes to keep us guessing.
You can check out the trailer below.