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“Live Music” in Second Life

Daily new avatars find Music Island and are often disappointed to not find musical things happening around the clock on their arrival. When I happen to be there and I explain that we present only “live music events”, I often meet puzzlement from them. They do not know what I mean and do not draw distinctions between a truly live concert and the many dance events in SL clubs that have canned music.

To me–and the Music Island audience– a live musical event is defined as one or more musicians playing live and streaming to us from home or studio, and often sharing their thoughts on their music.

Sometimes I wonder if Linden Labs appreciates the value-added in-kind donation of services that enlivens their world and contributes to their bottom line. As a professional arts administrator in RL, I would estimate the costs for such a small chamber ensemble event in RL at approximately $10,000. (US or Cdn.) I would breakdown these costs like this $4,000. production (venue rental, lighting & equipment rentals, rights payments, stage crew costs) $3000 artistic costs (fees, travel, hotel, per-diems), $2000 promotion/advertising (print, posters, venue lightbox, web updates, emailers, postcards, as appropriate), $1000 administration (insurance, office costs, pro-rated staff salaries & fundraising costs).

Live SL concerts demand almost as much work as RL concerts from artists and coordinators. I donate about a full workday a week (over two or three days) to booking, promoting and running SL concerts. Venue costs, promotional and artistic work is largely donated by those that value such events. I think that arts professionals in SL understand the quality and value of what is being donated by individuals to make live events possible in Second Life. I’m not so sure that everyone does. I know that when my concerns about such issues are greeted with either apathy or hostility, I just want to give up and let chaos rule. Equally I found little support when I suggested that Linden Labs consider finding a way of giving event hosts and participants priority access when there are temporary suspensions of log-ins, so that those in-world will still be able to attend and enjoy scheduled classes and events. Think what SL would be like if all of us who donate our time to planning, hosting and promoting lively arts events simply gave up doing that because our efforts were often in vain. My belief is that many have done exactly that. Any search on Second Life arts, live music, reveals a number of blogs and websites for venues and series that fail to exist.

It would also be helpful if Linden Labs would create a separate category for events that use canned music. Currently DJ hosted dance club events are listed under “Live Music” . I have some sympathy for this as there is really no other category that works for such an event. I have hosted some composer retrospectives that involved the playing of tapes of previously performed concerts of the composer’s work. Because the composer was there live and commenting, I chose “Live Music” as nothing else seemed to fit. The “Arts and Culture” category–the only other possible alternative– has largely been used for graphic arts exhibits.

I see this mainly as a problem for new avatars who fail to understand what is live and what is not. They do not understand that live events begin and end on schedule and will not be repeated. And all too often they expect that the behaviour that they witness at DJ hosted clubs, will be acceptable at a live concert. During a live event, organizers do not always have time to provide orientation to new citizens on how to listen to and enjoy the live concert experience. Sound gestures, running on stage, inappropriate comments result in ejecting and banning of new residents who simply failed to understand that a “live event” meant truly live and the expectation of some respectful listening from the audience in return for all the work that has been done in making the concert available.


  • Mister Crap
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    If it's okay, I'd like to add this to my M is for Music Project and my bookmarks at


  • Kate Miranda
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 3:07 am

    Sure thing, it was really a "thinking outloud" exercise on something that has been percolating away in the back of my mind.

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