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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?

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!

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.

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!

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!

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.

Dizzy Banjo rocks out in Berlin

Dizzy Banjo rocks out in Berlin

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.

Chat filter with hilarious results (If you have the mentality of a 13 year old)

Hilarious chat filter (If you have the mentality of a 13 year old)

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.

One day I dream of owning a balloon-popping monkey

One day I dream of owning a balloon-popping monkey

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.

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