Relevance Review: Music Renaissance

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by Eleanor Medier

(Please see the in-world release for more photographs and articles, also available on MARKETPLACE)
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A parallel reality has formed an international culture. Through virtual worlds, talented people who would never be able to meet in reality migrate into new communities—the music industry exemplifies the best technology has to offer. It brings artists from far off places into one arena, allows performance from anywhere, gives a social scene, and nurtures a foundation for friendships. There are about 2,000 musicians performing live in Second Life®. This spawns a mini-industry of new audiences that can expand an artist’s reach, to the point where the most hard-working and popular can carve out part-time, and in a very few cases, full-time livings.

Like any industry, the range of organizations that serve it include: the artists (creating the product), services (supporting with ingredients), venues (presenting the product), and audience (buying the product). On any given night, there are about 68,000 residents present online in SL and a fraction of that in the next largest, InWorldZ. Scanning the concert listings for live music, there are at least a dozen choices per taste every evening. In fact, an avatar can spend all day and night going to live concerts in SL because the sun never sets there (unless desired)! Transforming careers and bridging to reality, musicians enhance their careers and some even begin their careers online. Although music is easy to copy and share, hearing it live, interacting with the artists, hosts, friends, and friends not yet met, the music scene is buzzing with activity and camaraderie. This industry even exemplifies the best of virtual worlds: using technology to bring people closer together. And it spills into real activity when avatars are left in the cyber universe and the people behind them come an meet for real conferences and meeting face to face.

Exploring the relevance of virtual worlds through the audio filter of music reveals how new tools, when used to increase communication and the delivery of an artistic medium, can not only make both worlds better, but birth something totally new. A Renaissance occurs when cultures meet and disparate ideas creatively combine. New discoveries, cross-overs between industries, enhanced communication, all lead to a flowering of culture. Out of contrast, diversity, and even disagreement, the family of man takes another step up the evolutionary ladder of civilization.

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The in-world music industry from service providers to venue owners to event sponsors to performers to audience members, welcome the addition of a virtual world into their repertoire or lifestyle. Each participant and has established a bridge between avatar and professional, using one to enhance the other.

Musicians Merge Careers

The international community of performers in SL makes the world much smaller. Like a real world community of artists within a large city, those writing and presenting original material on the virtual stage all know each other, are supportive, and have “meet-ups” in real life—the Chicago group being one of the strongest. Many musicians have started careers in SL—not having the courage or the opportunity in real life, but a powerful pull into the Path Not Chosen. Dreams of recognition are found in SL, albeit a small yet growing audience, but truly international. There is a different connection between artist and audience in the virtual world that helps to take risks, build experience, gain confidence, and find new outlets creatively.

For many real world experienced musicians, SL may be an interlude, a place to relax away from the constraints of contracts and dollars.

blog-SSJ#1-rock doghouseIn SL, performing is more personal, with complete access to you. Anyone can IM you and you can personally thank them for following you. For a musician, there isn’t a line between real life and SL. It’s all one life, but the audiences are more international. It amazes me to play and have people from all over the planet listening. The sweet spot for the SL audience is to be exposed to original voices from anywhere, unable to be heard elsewise. I promote my CDs in both worlds, leveraging between. Also being visually talented aids my music. I design and develop software and graphic art. The computer is my tool of the trade now, so building in SL opens up my thoughts about 3D representation.” — Rock Doghouse

blog-SSJ#1-shannonFate and the universe keep me as a singer. I never had a real life career gel because I belong somewhere else. Without a doubt, I am a singer song-writer. SL that has given me confidence to pursue more performance in real life. It’s amazing to know that music reaches people as much as it does. When I perform in SL, I watch the chat and interact with the crowd. I put myself and all the emotion into it.” —Shannon O’Herlihy (Shannon McMahon),

blog-SSJ#1-bonesIt is hard for many professionals who wish to succeed here. It depends on lifestyle too. In real life, I live on an island and travel. I do a lot of music through the Net. In between real life projects, I record, build, play, or produce shows. I can fit it in and it is very creative. I do many fun things here, but it stays professional. I can come in, turn on my studio, and just play!” —Bones Writer

blog-SSJ#1-nance brodyAs an exclusive online entertainer, I perform only my own material to people all around the world. It doesn’t bet better than this. My fans are here online, so why would I want to be anywhere else?! SL is my community, my world, it is part of me.” —Nance Brody

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“Musicians need two things: 1) solitude, and 2) crowds. Creativity is usually achieved by people working alone. Once achieved, however, there’s a near-immediate need to bounce it off others, share it, receive feedback, and support.

“SL is a wonderful and immediate forum. And SL crowds are the best. It’s not just that you can reach a global audience; it’s that they’re some of the globe’s finest. There’s people from all walks of life. And in a world where language, culture, and time barriers are routinely crossed, where computer literacy is a requirement, you’ll find few idiots. Your audience may be small, but it’s diverse, and highly sophisticated. if they like you, and buy your stuff, it’s probably because you’re good. it’s comforting to know that, so we come back.”

—from Matters of Music Magazine archives, “Nuts & Bolts” by Solomon Brink

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(Note: please see the in-world magazine or download Sim Street Journal June 2013 for more photographs.)

This column will grow with new additions. It will comprehensively represent the music scene within the virtual worlds; contributions are encouraged.

Please contact Eleanor Medier, eleanormedier@gmail.com, for information, feedback, suggestions, and submissions.

Some of these contributions come from the archives of Eleanor Medier and Netera Landar, from previous works in Matters of Music Magazine and  Unforgettable Magazine.

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Contributions are encouraged if they cover topics relevant to the real world readers.
Comments and opinions are also encouraged.

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The Sim Street Journal explores the relevance of second to first life.
© 2014 by Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal. Articles cannot be reprinted without permission.

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