Monday, July 2, 2007

Event Review from The Guardian blog - Second Fest

SecondfestBy Aleks Krotoski / Events/ Virtual worlds 10:25am

I've avoided writing about Secondfest, last weekend's 3-day music festival in virtual world Second Life, here on the gamesblog because I knew the reaction of this community would be negative. However, that's where I've been for the past week. So if you are interested in this ground-breaking event, where over 30 bands performed to over 15,000 people, you can read what I wrote about it on the Music Blog. You can also see photos on MySpace and check out the iterant life-blogging on Twitter.

Hearty congratulations to everyone who took part, including The Guardian, Intel, Rivers Run Red and in-world music promoter Slim Warrior. The virtual site was jam-packed for the three days (I missed Pet Shop Boys because the servers were too full), and apart from the anticipated difficulties with the technological limitations of the application, the whole thing was a great success.

Best non-Second Life bands of the weekend for my money were Hot Chip, The Aliens, Florence and the Machine, Rob da Bank, The Cinematic Orchestra and Gilles Petersen. Best Second Life bands were Strangefates, DJ Doubledown Tandino and Slim Warrior - all very different sounds, each using the space in a unique way.

I grabbed Slim to ask about her role as in-world music promoter. Keep reading if you'd like the knowledge.

Why did you decide to use Second Life as a music platform?
I joined Second Life in November 2005. I joined so I could promote not only my own music but other musicians too. I was the first British musician to perform live there and the second female artist. I also did the first singing duet 'live' on one stream with another musician who is based in Texas and that led on to me realising that this was also another way of pushing technology and I decided to organise Metajams Second Life's first online multi streaming concert featuring seven musicians from around the world with duets and more. That was a huge success and I hope to do more. There is nothing as cool as jamming live with another musician who is thousands of miles away and having an audience. Incredible!

Where do you do it?
I bought a virtual island called Menorca which is dedicated to Live music events and there I perform not only my own music but also I host and promote other musicians who use Second Life. To date it has hosted over 200 live concerts in the year it has been open. Having also just finished my first album I will be trying to promote it in world and also everywhere else that I can.

In SL I am responsible for the entire management of an online show from initial hosting through to performances. From Large scale events to solo performances. I work extensively outside of the platform to encourage new musicians to sign up or by artists/bands and management and labels contacting me directly and I have been doing this for 18 months now.

How many people perform in Second Life?
There are approx around 120 live musicians in Second Life. It obviously varies each week as to how many perform but the numbers are growing each week, along with the number of listeners.

Do performers lose anything by using Second Life as a performance/distribution medium?
I don't think one can look at using Second Life as a 'loss' to any musician. SL is a platform for promoting and gaining worldwide exposure for one's music. When used in conjunction with normal methods of promoting your music, i.e. local gigs, internet websites like MySpace or the hundreds of other music sites, then as a distribution medium, SL is part of that. It is however a very unique platform in the fact that one gets immediate feedback and you are able to interact with your audience in real time even though they may be across the world on a completely different time-zone.

What does the audience get out of it?
I think the audiences get a huge amount from using Second Life to hear music on the internet live. They are able to interact with the artists directly. Because you have a visual aspect as well, then you get a far more interesting immersive experience. So, rather than going to listen to music uploaded on a site, you are immersed in that show, without of course the hassle of having to get to a concert, it is right there in your own home. You also get to discover some very talented musicians that otherwise you may not ever hear.

How does it compare with the traditional distribution paths?
Second life offers a unique platform as far as exposure is concerned to an artist. The costs of setting up local gigs, transport for many bands/artists is hard. Using SL as a medium offers instant worldwide distribution for ones music and you can do it from the studio or your home studio and as many musicians do, stream in their live shows into SL and back out again and that is proving to be very successful

One must remember that SL alone is not necessarily going to get you noticed by the industry. One must use it along with other ways of promoting music. You do need a good computer of course. There are limitations of course with any technology, but if you take these all into consideration I'd say that the pros far outweigh the cons.

Is it set to surpass MySpace as THE online music medium?
If you are a musician and you want to get your music heard and gain a fan base you will look at every possible way to do that. MySpace is one example of somewhere musicians can post their music in the hope of getting heard and increasing album sales. There are many sites on the internet that do that and if you are serious about your music you will use these all in conjunction. I don't feel personally it will take over from MySpace, but I do think that it has tremendous potential for ANY musician signed or unsigned. You have not only the listening experience but also the real time interaction which you don't get unless you gig to a real audience. I would certainly encourage musicians to use Second Life as your audience is certainly far more attentive and the experience far better than just using a website. More than anything it is also a lot of fun to do.

Why did you choose the bands you programmed to perform at SecondFest?
These are musicians who perform in Real life as any other band does; they have just used the available technology and therefore are actually a few steps ahead in utilising this 3d virtual platform - not only for album sales but in experience and worldwide listenership. For instance the Wiredaisies, a hugely successful band signed to EMI (Transistor label) have a huge following of people who use Second Life as well as a huge fan base in real life. The same for many bands/artists, in fact I think for all of us! The difference being is that we get to be heard worldwide rather than just locally. And that is very important.

There are so many talented musicians who use Second Life, if I could have, I would have asked many more. You have to remember, these are not just people who only use second life as a platform; they are exceptionally good musicians who use real life too.

What do you think will make the mainstream music industry sit up and take notice of Second Life?
I think that slowly the mainstream industry is noticing Second Life. Already we have had well-known artists come into SL, and I welcome that, but it is in a sense like any other online community. What you put in you get back. If you bring in an artist you cannot expect them to gain new fans by just having them appear once and then not coming back. It defeats the objective of using Second Life. For unsigned artists it gives them more exposure and the chance that mainstream A&R may possibly pick up on them. I would love to see that. It would be wonderful to see an independent/unsigned artist who uses the virtual world actually be signed to a RL label. That would be awesome, and of course I would love to be one!

You can check out Slim's tunes on MySpace, and head here to see the other Second Life bands who performed this weekend

No comments: