Monday, April 19, 2010

Second Life Radio Stations

I've been criminally negligent in mentioning the Internet radio stations that focus on Second Life musicians. Mea culpa. Most of you have heard me whine about the trials and tribulations of getting terrestrial radio airplay; meanwhile, there are several great stations who go above and beyond the call of duty to support the SL music scene, where I've been getting airplay for a number of years in some cases. Let's talk about them below, in alphabetical order as to not piss anyone off.

Before we do, please note that all three of the stations discussed below can be accessed like any Internet-based radio station, meaning you can listen via tools like iTunes and Windows Media Player, as well as by plugging the station's stream address into your parcel in SL. Please give each station a try; I will include a link to their stream and their web sites for each example.

While most radio stations rely on advertising for income, all of the stations presented here were created by individuals who put in the time, effort and money to set up and maintain the stations out of the goodness of their respective hearts. The only advertising you'll hear are short "bumpers" for the stations ("Hi, this is Juel Resistance, and you're listening to IndieSpectrum Radio!") or mentions of events that involve the stations. They get no direct financial benefit from doing what they do, and hopefully are rewarded with the appreciation of the community.

Another important note: there are literally thousands of Internet radio stations that can be accessed in SL, since you are simply able to get the station's stream address and plug it into the media settings in your SL parcel. However, the three stations below are differentiated by exclusively playing music by SL artists. If I've missed any other stations that fit this description, you are always welcome to let me know by dropping me a line in the comments section or by emailing me (zak at zakclaxton dot com). Okay, enough preamble... bring on the SL radio stations!

FCMC Radio

FCMC stands for First Call Musicians Co-op, and it's an SL-based organization put together by resident Reslez Steeplechase. Originally set up as a management/promotion service to liaison between musicians and venues, FCMC has also branched out into areas like a magazine, and a radio station. FCMC Radio was founded in May 2007 to help fulfill Reslez' commitment to better promote SL-based musicians. The station is not limited to artists who are part of the FCMC organization; it seems that all SL musicians are welcome to submit their songs to the station.

As is the case with many Second Life endeavors, Reslez runs the station all by himself, meaning he creates the playlists, handles the technical administration of the station, and deals with any administrative actions that arise from time to time. While FCMC Radio will play all genres of music by all Second Life artists, they try to focus on original material (rather than covers), though they also accept songs that are in the public domain.

Getting music to FCMC Radio, as is the case with all three stations mentioned here, is very easy. Reslez has systems in place for song files to be emailed or put on an FTP site. The only requirement is for the artist to be independent and for them to have performed in SL. Listeners can use the station's web site to see who is playing currently, as well as to request songs by artists, who are listed alphabetically.



IndieSpectrum Radio

In terms of reaching a large number of listeners, IndieSpectrum Radio (ISR) is the current king of SL radio stations. In fact, according to ISR founder and owner Fox Reinsch, the station has consistently appeared in the top 30% of all Shoutcast-based Internet radio stations. It's the only one that comes up in the iTunes list of radio stations (under the "eclectic" category, not surprisingly), and features about 200 SL-based artists with over 1500 songs in their playlist.

ISR was founded in November 2007 by Fox Reinsch, whose background in the audio business helped him get rolling on the radio. Fox's decision to start the station was based on his desire to help out a friend, musician Kori Carothers (Kori Travanti in SL). He'd been an SL resident for over a year before he found out about the live music scene, and felt that a radio station would help tell the whole SL world about live music.

Like FCMC, ISR is a one-man operation. Fox spends hours each week on the station and its accompanying web site, It's a huge undertaking, but the results have paid off with its benefit to the entire SL music scene.

ISR plays all types and genres of music. Originally, Fox felt he would have to go through each submission and cull the good form the bad, but quickly found that everything he received was worthwhile of getting exposure on the radio, so he plays it all. In order to best support the musicians who are active in the SL music scene, he tends to drop artists who depart form SL (especially if he doesn't personally dig the tunes).

The IndieSpectrum site makes it easy for artists to submit music for airplay. There's an "Artists Only" tab on the site's home page, and artists can just follow the instructions for uploading their music from there. Another nice thing about the site: unlike the others, music will automatically play for any visitor to the site, without having to take further steps to access it via a media player.

Like the other people in this article, Fox's main goal is to support the SL music scene. He says, "I would like to see everyone that is into live music tell everyone else! Take them to live shows, tell them about IndieSpectrum radio, and give them my free radios." Will do!



SL Live Radio

Founded and run by SL resident Cher Harrington, SL Live Radio was an evolution of an Internet station that Cher already had rolling at the time, called Radio Cher. She began incorporating MP3s sent to her from SL artists which she mixed in with the other material she was playing. By November 2007, the station began exclusively playing SL artists, and SL Live Radio was born. Starting with about 30 artists, Cher's station now features nearly all of the regular performers in the SL music scene.

Cher's experience as a DJ and radio operator is a bit more extensive than the others in this article; she'd been working in media buying and marketing/promotions before starting her station, and became a DJ in The Sims Online before joining SL in 2005. Like the others, she founded her station in order to better support the SL musicians. She notes, "Every time I played Rich Desoto's "Avatar Girl", they (the listeners) would ask me where they could purchase that song. I would send them over to Rich's kiosk at Crazy Sharks and they would buy his MP3!"

Another thing that separates SL Live Radio from the others is that it's supported by a team. Cher has worked closely with another of Second Life's most ardent music supporters, Ham Rambler, in handling music performances at the Dublin sim. When Ham was at a 2007 SL conference, he said that having a radio station to support SL artists would be a good idea, and Cher let him know that she had already started one. Ham then purchased the station, and resident Sitearm Madonna volunteered to create the station's website and promotional materials. Cher is also helped in running the station by other members of the Dublin staff.

Like the other stations, no type of music is unwelcome at SL Live Radio. In fact, Cher is fine with broadcasting cover songs and more. "SL Live Radio plays any music from any live artist in Second Life," she says. "I've had inquiries from artists who only sing, or who only do instrumental music, or who only perform covers, asking if it is still okay to send it. 'It's about the music,' I tell them, 'It's not whether it's a cover or just singing to backing tracks, it's all music.'"

Getting music on SL Live Radio is easy. Like the other stations, SL Live is happy to play stuff from any SL musician, which is the only requirement for airplay. For more info, just click the "Artist Information" link at, or just email your MP3 files to Cher's advice for everyone in the SL music community? "Engage the audience and make it fun and welcoming, whether you are hosting or performing, DJing or running a radio station. Everyone there has potential to be connected with you in some way, whether it's that they are interested in performing themselves, or a groupie that will go to future shows, or will tune in to your radio station, or come back to your venue."



Thanks to Cher, Fox, and Reslez for their efforts in their respective stations, as well as for talking to us for this article! And as I said above, if you have anything to add in regard to radio stations for Second Life artists, we're all ears.

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