Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Islands of New England (02.04.15)

It's only taken me a week to post this blog after my most recent SL show, which was at The Islands of New England, and it was a great show, and I want to talk about that. Before I do, though, I want to say a few things about why musicians should bother performing in Second Life at all... and it's probably not why you think.

I used to be emphatic about the tangible reasons for doing SL gigs. As one of the somewhat earlier people who took to SL for the purpose of doing live music (though not nearly one of the first; there were dozens of pioneering live musicians in SL before I started in 2006), I even wrote a couple of published magazine articles about it early on. You can still find them online, if you want. Back in March 2008, I did this article in Electronic Musician magazine, and did another in 2011 in Live 2 Play. My reasoning at the time was pretty logical, and it still stands today: SL allows for people to expose their music to listeners around the world in ways that have yet to be duplicated via other platforms. For people who for whatever reason are incapable or unwilling to physically tour around the world to perform live music, SL accomplishes a similar result. I have fans of my music in places like Australia and The Netherlands and Brazil who would never have possibly even heard of me without SL. Also, as I stated in the articles, it's possible for a musician to actually make a small amount of money as a performer in SL, via fees paid by venues and tips from the audiences.

All that is still true, and still valid. But those are not the reasons you should perform in Second Life. The reason is clear via a fast and easy analysis of the results; there has yet to be a single musician who initially gained notice via SL that became a popular musical star in the real world. Why? First, the grand majority of musicians in SL don't play original music at all. The most popular SL artists, understandably, are those who do covers of current popular songs. And as you already understand, on a general basis, people don't get famous from doing covers. But even if the greatest songwriter and musician in the world jumped into SL and wowed audiences, it's still unlikely that it would translate to popular success outside of SL. The fact is, by nature of being in a virtual world, there's a disconnect between the performer and audience (in both directions). I can anticipate that eventually, the technology will catch up to the point that every facial expression, every muscle movement will be translated into the digital realm. Until that happens, the audiences will constantly be reminded that what they're experiencing doesn't match up to even the person strumming cover tunes at their local bar. And, in the other direction, the performer will never get the kind of feedback they receive from an audience made of flesh located in front of them.

So, back to the question: why perform in SL? Because despite all of the shortcomings, it allows you to have a lot of fun and make friends with people who appreciate what you do, and guess what? That's reason enough on its own. Speaking of which, I'll now tell you about my show at The Islands of New England last Wednesday night.

I knew that a couple of days after this show, I'd be heading down to Orange County for my third SL Jam (which was great and I'll blog about soon), so it was good that I had a show or two beforehand to warm up and prepare for some real-life music performances. It used to be that at TIONE, I was fine playing for smaller audiences, but it seems that my more recent shows have had the place pretty well packed. I don't need big audiences to feel like a show went well, but it is a good feeling knowing that a lot of people are enjoying your music at once, from time to time. And again, referring back to my earlier point, having a house full of some of my closest friends in SL makes it all worthwhile.

All photos by Kat.

The Islands of New England set list...
What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love & Understanding (Elvis Costello)
Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
Cat's In The Cradle (Harry Chapin)
Antiphon (Midlake)
Blew The Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
*Avalon (Roxy Music)
Sleeper In The Valley (Laura Veirs)
Longing On (They Stole My Crayon)
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Neil Young)
Big Empty (Stone Temple Pilots)
Any Major Dude (Steely Dan)
Things Under Trees (They Stole My Crayon)
*Improvised Outro Song (Zak Claxton)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Massive thanks to all who came out to see me play at TIONE, especially the following who supported my show!
Cicadetta Stillwater, Funkyfreddy Republic, Sesh Kamachi, Gideon McMillan, Bonita Denimore, GMetal Svartur, Kandy Roussel, Kat Claxton, Alexis Fairlady, TheaDee Resident, Joel Eilde, Aurelie Chenaux, my great manager Maali Beck, and most of all, TIONE manager (and my lovely friend) Christine Haiku!

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