I'm late. I'm sorry. Moving on.
(*Disclaimer: I am a fan of Ben Folds' music, and I am a partner in a company competing with Electric Sheep Company.)
So, I'm listening to Urizenus Sklar (aka Peter Ludlow, who has his own wikipedia ego page) drone on in Second Cast about how the media hype about companies coming into Second Life isn't interesting and relevant to SL. Jerry Paffendorf points out that the publicity generates interest for the entire SL music industry; in that sense, Folds (and other artists like Vega or Duran Duran) use their own publicity to bring the legitimacy to Second Life for the whole SL music scene.
I think there's a larger point to make though. The fact that people like Ludlow aren't surprised or excited about this media attention shows that SL is starting to reach a new level of ubiquity. This kind of media attention is expected now. Someone else pointed out, and I forget whom, that when the naysayers come in, that's just a reaction that comes with popularity.
Back To Folds
Ben Folds' appeared in SL last week for a meet-and-greet and to preview some songs from his latest album, supersunnyspeedgraphic. He appeared via Electric Sheep Company and their client, Sony BMG, and to promote the opening of the aloft build as well. Since I was fortunate enough to get an invite and since only 50 or so people were there, I'll give ya'all the run-down:
For the 90 minutes before the event, DJ/sheeper DNA Prototype played high-energy techno.
Ben arrives, greets everyone, and does a promotional spot for his new album that sounded memorized.
Ben then chats a bit, and plays a few of the new songs, including:
- All U Can Eat
- There's Always Someone Cooler Than You
- Learn To Live With What You Are
He intros them with a bit of the meaning behind the songs, which was funny, of course, when he joked that the 3rd on the list was an obscure name. As for the songs, they sounded great, and the quality was great especially considering it was via shoutcast or whatever eSheep was using.
By then it's time to trek over to the aloft virtual hotel, where there's a stage and some chairs, setup interview style.
More pics at Snapzilla!
So Ben hops off the stage, taking some audience members' cues, and starts just hanging out and being a real person. The interview got put off til the last 15 minutes, and until then virtual Ben chatted with people, shot people with eye lasers, drank beer, dueled with a lightsaber, and yes, told people to f*** off.
Second Life breaks down borders between celebs and fans.
It was really refreshing to see a celebrity not act like a stuffy, aloof elitist. One of the things I really wanted to point out was that a celebrity in SL can interact with his or her fans much more intimately. This is because there is no threat of physical violence from crazed groupies or whatnot, there's no need for bodyguards or security, really. (other than turning off push scripts) Ben didn't need to be up on stage, he could be with the people there to see him, and I thought that is illustrating a very powerful aspect of what the Metaverse can do that can't be done in real life.
I think that is the real success of the event, and the real relevance in the grander scheme.
Some press and other media grossly misread his playful jabs as malicious, but audience members had fun. Fans of Folds may also know that this is pretty much his M.O. with public events.
And the aforementioned press also failed to learn how to count, reporting "25" people there, when I had specifically checked the sim at one point and saw 45. This doesn't include people outside the sim hoping to get in (as the sim was pretty much full) and the fact that some people had to leave early, and some arrived late.
This event took such a hard slam from initial media, and while for the most part I enjoyed the event, there are some things I'd like to point out.
Clickable Culture had a good discussion.
Normally I try and keep this blog positive, and I certainly don't write about things that stink just to lambast them; the Herald does that enough. *wink* This event was not a stinker, however, since this event got so much criticism early on, I don't want to throw Electric Sheep a softball and be accused of having a blog full of spin. E-Sheep is my competitor, sure, but I've also worked with them in the past, and a number of them are good friends. I like a lot of the stuff they do. So I have to be somewhat fair to my readers.
In this case, this was an event I thought was really cool. I certainly don't think it deserved the heavy slamming that it got from some media, but looking back, I'm left with a few lingering questions in my mind on what was lacking.
- Someone else made a good point about eSheep's choice of music for the 90 minute pre-party. DNA is a great DJ, and I enjoyed the music, but could it have been a little bit more closer to the genre of music that Ben Folds creates?
- Dare I ask, could some Ben Folds tracks have been played during the pre-party?
- The event was very well branded for Ben Folds, with signs and big screens with images of him. Ben Folds did do a couple mentions for Sony and Aloft, but that's about the extent of the promotion for them. Might there have been a bitter better branding for Sony BMG or Aloft?
- Could the interview / meet and greet, instead of being on a stage *near* the Aloft, have been say, in front of, or in the hotel lobby?
- Electric Sheep has done interviews before, yet this event had a number of technical problems with the broadcast. What happened?
- In addition, why wasn't any part of the event recorded and published online for broadcast for the rest of the world who couldn't attend?
And to put things into perspective, we developers are all still figuring this out. Marketing and event-planning in Second Life is not the same as the real world or on the WWW. Agencies that come into SL touting years of experience but lacking any real SL experience are going to have a difficult time. Heck, the people who have been here have a tricky time enough as it is.
But that's why we give feedback and try and keep everything in perspective - so that the whole of the metaverse development industry can grow and flourish and have bountiful opportunities for business for all of us.
And oh my, there is.