Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Live Music Roundtable with Linden Lab
I don't spend much time on this blog talking about Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life. Honestly, there's been very little reason to, since in the years I've spent there, I've had very little contact with them, and only think about them on the occasions when SL isn't working for whatever reason. Think about it like your ISP: you tend to not think much about the structure of the service until it doesn't do what it's supposed to.
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised last week to see that the PR branch of Linden Lab was reaching out to the SL music community in putting together a roundtable discussion. They had us fill out questionnaires about our musical activities in SL, as well as our RL music and how it ties into SL, and so on. I filled it out and sent it in, and was happy to get a fast response from Pete Linden, who invited me to take part in the meeting in-world, scheduled for 9AM this morning.
With a fresh cup of coffee in arm's reach, I got into world at 8:50, and was magically teleported to PR Island. No, I didn't get a standard TP request. Pete pinged me and asked if I was ready, and as soon as I replied that I was, WHOOOSH... I was there. It's good to be the king, I suppose!
I'm not sure how they put together their list of attendees, but I think they did a good job at making a cross-reference of many different types of musicians with their own performance styles and goals, both in SL and RL. Here's who was there (hoping I didn't miss anyone, and my apologies if I did):
- Alazarin Mondrian
- Dakota Pluto
- Debi Latte
- EvaMoon Ember
- Grace McDunnough
- Keiko Takamura
- Kyle Beltran
- Lance Rembrandt
- Lou Mannock
- Rola Hykova
- Skye Galaxy
- Zak Claxton
LINDEN/PR AGENCY REPS
- Blue Linden
- Catharine Linden
- Pete Linden
- Jennifer Dolores
- Travis Pooraka
- Vanessa Emerald
We could have had a nice jam session after the meeting.
After a welcome from Pete Linden, we proceeded to go around the room, with each person giving a mostly-brief introduction of themselves and what they do in SL (and RL in cases where it applied). Since most of the people there were veterans of the live music scene, I think we all knew each other fairly well previous to today's get-together, but I learned some new stuff about my fellow SL musicians nevertheless.
What was immediately apparent was that the Linden PR team did a good job of vetting this crowd to show the variety of performers in SL. You had people like Debi and Lou, who mostly do covers. You had Alazarin, who does his unique brand of progressive rock. There were people like me, Keiko, Lance, and Eva, who focus on our real life music careers but still are very involved in the SL music scene, and combine both parts of our lives in that aspect. And of course, the wonderful Grace McDunnough, who doesn't perform live in RL but makes up for it tenfold with her immersive shows in SL. A nice cross-section of the live performing scene. Well done, Linden PR peeps.
When Grace talks, I listen.
For the most part, the discussion focused on the goals and feelings of the musicians. It wasn't entirely a one-way street conversation, but given the limited time we had, the priority seemed to be a fact-gathering mission for Linden's PR team, rather than a chance for us to quiz them. The specific topics included comparing SL to other social networks in terms of effectiveness for music promotion, asking what unique qualities of SL made it attractive for live musicians, and so on in that vein.
If a bomb went off in this room, there would... still be about 700 too many musicians in SL. Kidding! The more, the merrier.
There were surprisingly few fireworks at this meeting. I think everyone there understood that this meeting was not about bitching Linden out for the perceived lack of support of music in SL. Any number of grenades could have been lobbed, like getting clarification on the rights of artists to perform covers in SL, the 25 group limit, the small audience sizes due to sim limits, and of course the crippling of search functionality in Viewer 2. But while some of these topics were broached, they were all done respectfully, and with the understanding that these were not the people responsible for fixing this stuff anyway.
About the only moment that my ears pricked up in this regard was when Dakota Pluto asked pointedly, "So why is Linden interested in us now? Some of us have been doing this for five years, and this is the first time you've bothered to talk to us." I really enjoyed that barb, but Pete handled it adroitly, and Catharine Linden seemed only marginally defensive about it. I think the overall message from the musicians was that we're all aware of the shortcomings of Second Life as a platform for live music, but that we all care enough about it to overlook some of those issues to focus on the positive aspects that will help push forward both SL and our own careers as musicians.
Dragons and sexy cartoon people. Yup, this is SL.
Thanks, Linden PR!
It was good to feel that we're being heard, even if it's only for Linden's PR benefit for the time being. Hopefully these communications channels can continue to open for us, and allow SL to be viewed as a viable platform for musicians around the world, as well as a place for music lovers to discover some great live performers and their music.
Posted by Zak Claxton at 10:21 AM