Thursday, July 14, 2011

Being part of the Second Life Music scene

You may have noticed that other than reports and announcements from my own shows, I don't spend a lot of time talking about the music scene in Second Life here on the Zak Blog. It's not because it's not important to me; it is, very much so. But really, so many other folks do it so well, I didn't think it was necessary to add another voice in a big chorus.

However, as time goes by, there are inevitably more and more people who perform various kinds of music in virtual worlds, and as the size of the community grows, a little of the tight-knit camaraderie has shrunk. It's an inevitable part of the process. If you're in a room with four people, you can hold great conversations and have meaningful interaction with everyone. In an arena with 10,000 people, it's a lot more difficult.

There's no exact number of musicians who perform in SL and other VWs, and of course the number changes constantly as people come and go. In any case, the total numbers in the thousands at this point, though if you boil it down to the folks who play week in and week out, it's probably still a good 500+ musicians. As per my example above, back in 2006, it seemed I knew damn near everyone who played live on a regular basis. Today, I only know a fraction of the people. As I look down the list of live music events, while I still recognize many names, there are many more who I've never heard.

SL musicians Noma Falta and Kelvinblue Oh. Rest in peace, Kevin.

Something happened today that made me aware that it would be nice if there was some way to inspire more interaction and solidarity among the Second Life music performers. I got up and did my usual scan through world news and my social networks, and got hit with the sad news that Kelvinblue Oh (real life name Kevin Navy) had passed away suddenly. Well, I've heard Kevin a number of times, usually in situations where we happened to be playing at the same venue and I was scheduled before or after him. Despite that, and despite liking his music, I never took the time to get to know the guy very well. Had I reached out to him, I'd have said that I really enjoy his guitar playing and singing, and his obvious love of blues music. Now I will never have that opportunity. That's why I thought it might be nice to suggest a few things to my fellow SL musicians -- especially the newer ones -- that might make their experience as part of a community more rich and fulfilling.

Grace McDunnough and I, pretending not to know each other.

Go To Each Other's Shows!
What better way is there to get to know people's music than to hear them play, I ask you? I get particularly happy when I see a fellow SL musician take the time to stop by my show, and it makes me make a mental note to go see them at the next opportunity.

Keep An Open Mind!
There's all kinds of different music in SL from all kinds of different people. Don't be so fast to dismiss a person because you think they are a DJ, or a karaoke singer, or play a style of music you're not really into. Seeing (and hearing) them do their thing may give you some great tips on better ways to execute your own shows in SL.

EvaMoon Ember, Beth Odets, Patrick LaSalle, and Lyndon Heart.

Collaborate With Other SL Artists!
If you see an artist who you particularly like, and feel might be a good fit for your own music, see if they have any interest in collaboration. That might mean having someone play a solo on an upcoming recording of yours, or even teaming up for live performances via stream relay.

It's Not A Competition!
Obviously, we all do compete to a degree in getting people to attend our shows. There are only so many people in world at any given time, and they make choices for their entertainment based on a number of factors. However, the best musicians in SL are those who support each other's efforts. Minimally, you should make sure you know who is playing before and after you at every show, and acknowledge their efforts to your crowd. Quite often, I make sure to recommend to my audience that they go and check out other performers... not only is it the right thing to do, but karma tends to make these small efforts come back to me in a big way.

Max Kleene.

Get To Know SL Musicians In Real Life!
When you're together in a room in the flesh and blood, you can find that strong and long-lasting friendships are built. Over the past few years, more and more people are doing SL Live Jams, where a bunch of musicians and SL music fans in a particular area get together for a few days and jam. In February, I attended an SL Jam in San Diego that was so much fun, I don't have words to describe it. There's a Facebook group set up specifically to organize and discuss various SL Jams... find it here.

EvaMoon Ember, Raspbury Rearwin, Max Kleene, myself, and Lyndon Heart at the San Diego Jam.

Be Part Of Each Other's Social Networks!
Speaking of Facebook, you will find plenty of SL musicians on all of the major social networks. Be a fan of the musicians you enjoy, and interact with them. You may learn more about the cool places to play and special events through that avenue than you will anywhere else. Also, many SL musicians have web sites. A little Google search under their SL names will usually yield useful info.

Blindboy Gumbo.

These are just a few tips... there are many more ways to allow the community of SL musicians to help each other. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments below.


Shannon Bruchal said...

Well said, Zak. I have been playing in SL for just about three years now, and the population of musicians entering the scene is steadily growing. I like the idea of becoming a closer-knit group. The SL Jams are the best! I'm looking forward to Montreal in two weeks!

Shannon Oherlihy

Bryan Page a.k.a. Jesta said...

I agree with pretty much all - well, actually all of that. Definitely interested in hearing some other artists (haven't been doing that as much as I used to) and collaborating when I've got more free time (getting married in 2 weeks!) RIP Kevinblue Oh - one of the few musicians I managed to see more than once.

Rich Palmer said...

I'm extremely sad to hear that Kevin passed away. Your post is the first I'd heard it. As to the rest. I'm guilty as charged. There was a time I knew almost everyone that played music in SL. It's all but impossible -- almost to the point that when another musician does request a connection thru a social network -- I probably don't recognize the name, virtual or otherwise.

I definitely need to reconnect more -- and get in-world more to hear the great number of talents there.

Zak Claxton said...

Rich, sorry to be the bearer of sad news. He was definitely a great guy and a terrific player. I had a show tonight and in his memory, I pulled out "It Hurts Me Too", which I think he'd have approved of. :)

Unknown said...

I agree Zak and I feel in addition that the musicians as a whole need to hang their ego's on a hook everyone has a different style and talent and and whether they use instruments tracks their voice or play the spoons it's all about the music and definitely not a competition

ARIMO said...

Arimo Teixeira
Very well put Zak. I will being Honoring KevinBlue Oh 10am this Sunday @ NAG. ARIMO