January 3, 2012

The Business Side of Second Life Music - Performing isn't Free!

It's no news that over the past few years, the economy is still in bad shape, not just here in the USA but globally. Its effects can be seen all over and similarly, in Second Life. Today I looked at the national average for gas prices on GasBuddy and it's almost $4.00 per gallon (at the time of writing this Blog). Lucky me, here in California we're at the top of that list at >$4.05 per gallon. As a good friend pointed out who lives in the UK "... where we pay $12 USD per gallon!"

There are many content creators (CC) in Second Life... fashion designers, animation creators, scripters, hair, shoes, on and on the list goes. These CC's provide something that SL residents purchase for $L which of course, equates to real money. NoLook at the time spent on creating a single pair of jeans for example. It could be a few hours or it could be more (in total amount of work). Once these jeans are done, the CC sets them for sale in their store(s) and if they know how to do a bit of marketing and if the jeans are of a good caliber and quality, they can sell for at least a few hundred $L... repeatedly.

Now let's take a look at a day in the life of a live performer in SL. There are performers who have to travel to a studio to hold their live performance and pay for studio time. For the sake of this example, let's take that travel time, studio costs and gas expense out of the equation for a minute. This performer has equipment like a guitar, which has strings, which most pros will change quite often. There is setup time, rehearsal time, writing new songs (as original artists do), learning new covers, purchasing backing tracks (for track singers). 

Brandy and I spend a good amount of time writing and sending out promos and marketing in Second Life, Facebook, blogs, the web, etc. for each and every performance/event I hold. Then the artist gets to the venue... early... because they have to setup the venue with their tip jar, group invite, etc. They then perform, usually for an hour, many playing free at tips only venues, hoping that the residents who have just spent $L1,000 on their avatar's hair will tip them a few hundred. Sadly, as I have experienced, most attendees do not tip. So an artist walks away after all this work and expense with maybe $10-$20.

Wait, it gets better. As I mentioned before, the jeans designer is done once they've finished designing and setting out their merchandise for sale. After that, each and every sale that comes in is what I like to call "cake".. A.K.A. recurring revenue or even Passive Income. They don't have to do any more work on those jeans that are already set for sale.

This is the major difference. An artist does not have that luxury of being passive with their work. They MUST constantly be engaging, looking for new shows and bookings, creating events, on and on the list goes as does the work for both artist, their booking agent, their manager and even hosts (all of which also need to be paid).

The short of it is, I am writing this blog because I am seeing some incredibly talented artists in SL, both veterans and new artists, busting their asses entertaining, showing people a great time and sadly, going unrewarded for their hard work. Why is it so hard for people to understand that artists are "working" too and that they too deserve to be paid for their work. Is the "content" that performers provide any less valuable than those jeans? Performing is a service and some artists do sell products in their CD's and other merchandise. So if nothing else, show your support by purchasing their merchandise.

I'll close this blog with a reminder $L250 = $1.00 USD

In SL you don't need to drive to a see your favorite live performers. You don't need to shower, get dressed, buy food or even buy drinks. That's a whole bunch of money saved. If everyone in attendance at a performance would tip one dollar to the venue and one dollar to the artist, things would change in a big way. So in essence, for two dollars, you CAN make a BIG difference! I've owned and operated businesses for most of my adult life and after over 5 years of performing live in Second Life, seeing things, watching and personally being on the front lines, you can trust that I do know a thing or two about it.

I certainly don't mean to come off in a bad light or stir up controversy here, but I have friends that are struggling and it frustrates the hell out of me when I see a very good artist walking away with $3.00 USD for a full one hour show and all the work that goes into it. Yes three dollars! As for the venues, well even more importantly, as they are the ones footing the bill for the residents' entertainment pleasure.

Let's all do our part to help keep live music alive and well in Second Life. PLEASE think about this and in the kind heart that I know you have, do the right thing.


  1. I so agree, as a SL resident and business owner, people do not understand that performing artists are working hard for what they get, which isn't a lot most of the times.
    I always remember to make sure that the venue I attend for live artists is tipped, the artist and any host that is there doing their hard job.
    That people do not understand the monetary things in SL is evident to any that perform,own businesses or clubs. Being a tips only venue is hard, the cost is figured into a monthly budget and when things go wrong, that budget gets tight. But, that being said, I love seeing artists such as yourself perform in SL as I am not able to do so in RL. I love music of all sorts and as a means to enjoy it, nothing surpasses what I can and do in SL.
    Thanks for the thoughts, much needed push for some that do not understand.

  2. Re the gas, count yourself lucky that you don't live in th UK where we pay $12 usd a gallon!! I have been performing in SL for almost 6 years off and on. Let's just say that I'm glad that I'm not living on money earnt in SL as I would be a very hungry music indeed. Guitar strings are really expensive ($25 usd for Elixirs), and due to the amount of shows I play, they need changing every month (2 month max). Mel Cheeky

  3. It's people like you Suellen that are a benefit to the SL community. You obviously know where things stand. Good on ya!

  4. I use Elixir's too Mel... I feel ya! Really $12 a gallon in the UK? Holy bat snot!!! Well from long time performer to another I say, more power to you! And may the coming year bring well to do penguins bearing awesome NY pizza to your door!

  5. Yummmmm! NY pizza is the best - got confused by people calling it pie though ha ha

  6. Well it IS a pie! It's a PIZZA PIE!!! Wanna slice of pie? Nah... that's apple pie or something more "pretty"... or sweet. Pizza is pizza! No ifs, ands or pizza butts about it!


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