Second Life Puts Musicians on the Virtual Stage

It’s hard to make a go of it as a professional musician, but if you’re willing to trade stadiums for a virtual stage, there’s a crowd of music fans ready to listen every night of the week.

Second Life by Linden Labs is an internet-based virtual community where users create avatars and interact in a 3D world (like a video game, but without the game). By strapping a 3D-rendered guitar onto your in-world self and streaming live music directly into the application via Shoutcast, a musician can give real-time live performances at virtual music clubs for people from all over the world.

Sounds a bit too weird to be true? There’s no arguing that playing music for a virtual audience goes pretty far down the rabbit hole, but the community is strong one and the musicians with families and day jobs get to do what they usually can’t: perform live. In fact, these live music shows are a staple of Second Life; many users spend their in-world time hopping from one live gig to the next, and word-of-mouth about good music travels fast in the virtual world, so a fan base can grow quickly.

Tipping and performance fees are de riguer, though usually modest, and are paid using the in-world currency called “Lindens” (which are worth roughly 250:1 against the US dollar, so even heaping piles of Lindens will add up to only a few real-world bucks).

Sure, it doesn’t pay the way a real life gig would, but the ease and convenience of playing at reasonable hours without having to shlep instruments and sound gear across town (or further) sounds pretty darn good to most musicians. In fact: So long as you aren’t too attached to fame or money, Second Life offers musicians a chance to do what they love most on a regular basis.

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