Friday, 8 October 2010

You are almost guaranteed a good night out at the Azure Club,  house of smooth sounds and cool time.Pick the right night and you are likely to see one band you desperately try and remember the name of the next morning amongst the four or five who usually play each gig night. There is a relaxed vibe with an open-minded clientele who all have an obvious love of live music, which is appreciated by the bands, many of who are starting out their careers, who regularly pull out all the stops here. ##M:[more]## The Azure takes its music seriously .They won’t put on bands or singers  just because they will be able to fill the venue with their mates, demo tapes are judged on their own merits; and many musicans have played here on their way up, including  WaltKeys Faith, Thunderfoot Lorefield, Idella Quandry, Zen Revnik, BGSinger Hermit, Tia Macbain, BellaDonna Lemondrop, Trowzer Boa and more...

The venue is rectangular-shaped with a small stage against an azure wall and there's  also a two floor art gallery plus canalside artwalk currently featuring many good artists.
Azure is the colour of almost all the details of this place, whose motto is  "Azure the colour of your dreams".But above all Azure is Graine McBain's dream and with her I had a nice conversation about music and passions in Second Life.

Graine discovered SL because she saw it mentioned on the net somewhere back around 2006 and even went to the SL webpage and investigated it. She almost set up an account but thought she'll never get anything done in RL if she signed up for this. But she kept the page bookmarked, and came back every now and then to reconsider joining, and finally in March of 2009, she took the plunge, telling herself that she would try it for about two months then cancel. "I'm still here" she says smiling.

 As most of us she believes in keeping SL and RL separate. "Why do I want to be constrained by my RL identity in SL?"she asks , and definitely she's right!
What she does in SL is quite similar to what she does in her RL, where she's involved in managing and scheduling, and that's about it.

In SL she has opened "Azure"  a live music venue and I asked her why she started this virtual adventure."Intially I was here only to have fun, meet people, and explore,-she says- but I got to the point where I was bored with being a consumer of other people's creativity and decided to find something to do that I could call my own and maybe, just maybe, earn some money. The Azure was a club I patronized, and when I found out it was for sale, I jumped at the oportunity. I never believed those stories about people making big money in SL, even though I bought the "Entrepreneur's Guide to SL" by Daniel Terdiman, in which he bluntly states that clubs are the only SL businesses that don't make money. I soon found out that was true. So I guess I'm here for the fun of it, mostly."

Graine thinks that SL is a much better showcase for art made inworld than art imported from RL. "I have had some of my SL photos exhibited in a gallery last year, and now that I have my own gallery adjacent to the club, I might mount my own exhibition. But the art that impresses me the most in SL is the sort that uses the virtual world itself as a form of art, what is known as Not Possible in Real Life art. Just as I don't understand why you would want to merely replicate your earthbound self in SL, I don't see why you would want to merely replicate the "real" world in SL."

Then we started talking about people who , in her opinion, really  made a success in SL.Of course it depends on which kind of definition of success we're talking about,both of us agrred on the poit that  it 's impossible to get a real business success inworld. But Graine told me that there are some people who really got a good" artistic" success, I know plenty such artists as Rose Borchovski and Miso Susanowa, to musicians like Ichie Kamachi and Joaquin Gustav and DJs like Violet Ormenthal. Furthermore there are some  musicians like Zen Revnik, Idella Quandry, and MoShang Zhao who are both RL and SL successes.

Graine thinks think that the most successful people in SL are those who have embraced the medium and reinvented themselves as new personalities, even new beings of a sort, if you consider all those people who opt for some nonhuman avatar like furries or Tinies, or a floating ball of rotating lights. "You can make your SL life itself your best work of art if you want to." she says.
Graine  promotes her venue in many ways with a very professional approach.
Other than the standard Azure group and Subscribe-o-matic notices, Graine pays for a classified ad every week in Search, and she lists every event at the Azure in the SL Events listings at least 48 hours or more before the event.
Furthermore Graine says that she usually goes around wearing her "The Azure Owner" tag everywhere she can (some clubs won't let you advertise any other venue that way). She also belongs to a few art groups that allow her to send notices about art related events at the Azure gallery.

 She also has a blog that she uses to mostly advertise the shows at the Azure, but also occasionally to chronicle her experiences in SL and showcase places she likes. She  intends to expand that aspect of the blog in the future.
At the "Azure Club" she also feature a Trivia night on Thursdays from 4.30-6 PM and she's planning  to have poetry/spoken word events as well as comedy nights.

 On weekends, she  tries to line up two or more concerts in a row so the audiences will overlap and the musicians will pick up some new fans and patrons will be exposed to an artist or style of music they may not have appreciated before.

 During concerts, she always mention the fact that she also has a gallery, and if any of the artists are present, she will introduce them and encourage people to visit their exhibits.
"During one show, -Graine says-I mentioned that and an artist who was present sold eight pictures! But I try not to sound like a circus barker!".

 Graine also tries  to expand the patron base to other SL communities. "The Azure is Tiny friendly-she says- we have some Tiny sized furniture and a Tiny dance ball that some Biggies mistakenly click on to their discomfort, and they have have featured Tiny performers like Luvvie Starsider and Tia Macbain. I want the Azure to be seen as an inclusive place for all SL residents, except griefers."
 Finally I asked her where does she see her self a year from now and if  Second Life will still exist she responded :"
Second Life will still exist a year from now and I will be the CEO of Linden Labs".This is our wish too!

showcase live

Friday, 23 April 2010

Live music in Second Life is still alive.Actually both venues and music lovers became more selective.

I decided to focus my attention above all on the ones who consider SL as a valid showcase for their RL works ,leaving out bathtub singers and karaoke.

I started to write about this on some magazines, such as SLEnquirer,Cisum Webzine,France 3D.
Of course I'm still giving my suggestions to the coolest venues inworld.

Here you can find more infos on about it's going on,

Imitation of Life

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Virtual world is perfect to share skills, emotions and good vibes with everyone.I alway thought that Second Life is a an amazing stage for musicians and artists too, because it allows to reach a great worldwide audience as well as artists from all over the world.
But sometimes it can do some dirty tricks especially to the part-time singers or visual artists, who make their own living in RL in a totally different way. These fake superstars may be induced to fall in a dangerous misunderstanding, considering the virtual life as a substitute of their real one:of course everyone of us would prefer to live as a praised to the sky rockstar or a famous artist, but unfortunately we know that it's not so easy.
Someone is not able to stop at the right time, and, bored by the monotony of his real life, begins to spends the most part of his time inworld, taking away hours and hours to their real job, family, hobbies...
Living in a fake world, pretending to be someone different, forgetting friends and duties,their imitation of life can make them loose forever their balance and their own way...

music and musicians on the web and in second life

Saturday, 13 February 2010

One of the major stake that indie musicians have to deal with on the web is visibility. Web brings up a lot of opportunities for indies musicians, but as a matter of fact, we daily experiment that the web brings anonymity at first.

How can a musician can be visible when lost among thousand of others in huge musician directories ? How can he or she put up a social network which works, when thousand of others musicians are harassing the members of places like myspace ?

And if we try to watch things on the public point of view : How can people make a difference between real indie musicians, those who are mature enough in their art, and "bathroom singers" when anyone can register anywhere as an artist ?

- A good way to get more visibility is to gather in a group of high quality artists, give a name to that group, so that people can be sure that they will get something good when they will listen or buy some music of a musician refering to that named group.

- The high level of quality of the group has to be preserved, so we need to have simple and clear rules for attendance and acceptation of new artists in the group.

- Online live music is still an unknown territory whose best pionners are already involved in Second Life. At the same time, on line live music can surely be a good strategy to get some visibility on the web, on virtual worlds like SL, but also on other places, using web tv, as well as web radios, and other media that we dont know yet.

- Virtual worlds are also good places to experiment new relationships between artists and public, and to find out new ways to build social networks that really works.

- We have to use the best of the new technologies and put up some tools that will be helpfull for each artist joining the group. Those tools have to use the latest features of web 2, rss automatic feedings for exemple, so that we can interconnect what each one is already doing on his or her side, instead of trying to do doing something new, which would be too much time consuming. Thoses tools could be : a weblog, a webradio, a tvchannel, a 3D place in SL, and so on ...

About Zak Claxton

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

With over 20 years as a professional gigging musician and recording artist based in Los Angeles, Zak Claxton is an entertaining and exciting singer/songwriter performing in Second Life. Using his acoustic guitar, voice, and the occasional harmonica, Zak brings high energy to his original music, as well as occasional covers by artists ranging from the '60s to the '00s. His influences include Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, the Who, the Beatles, and many more.

Zak has spent over two years as one of SL's most enjoyable live music performers, and his self-titled debut solo album is due out in December 2009 on the Frothy Music label. More info available at
Here below the interview I had with him.You can find it also on

Do you want me to use your real names?
My real name as it applies to music is Zak Claxton. I have an album coming out as Zak Claxton in December, and my web site is While it started out three years ago as just my SL avatar name, Zak Claxton has now become my stage name for all of my musical endeavors. For your reference, the site Pixels & Policy recently did an article on me in this regard. More info here:

Where are you from?
I have spent the majority of my life in the Los Angeles, CA area. Specifically, I live in the beach cities area of LA called the South Bay. I love it here and never plan to leave.

How long have you been playing music?
Almost my entire life. I started on piano when I was three, but then took up guitar when I was seven and fell in love with it. I've now been a guitarist for 33 years... which means I'm officially old. You do the math.

What instruments do you play?
As referenced above my main instrument is guitar, and in my SL performances, I play acoustic guitar exclusively. However, I've worked professionally in both studios and stages as a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and vocalist, as well as an audio engineer and music producer.

How did you discover SL?
A friend of mine called me in 2006, and was very excited that his favorite band, Duran Duran, had started a presence in SL. While I really didn't have strong feelings about Duran Duran, I did find the concept of Sl interesting. Most important to my start in SL was the fact that at the time, I was in a long-distance relationship; my ladyfriend Kat lived in Seatlle and I was here in LA, 1,000 miles south of her. We joined SL simultaneously so we could do things and feel like we were "together" more often. She has since moved to LA to be with me in reality as well as in SL. But at the time, I did not know about live music in SL. Soon after I found out about it, I started doing my own shows, in early 2007.

What has influenced you to get your to where you are today musically?
Many things. I've always loved music, and I've spent my entire life being involved in it. For the most part, I've been part of bands where I wasn't necessarily in the spotlight, and my music was being used by other people. But after all this time, I found that I had songs of my own that I wanted to get out and perform. That led to not only my experiences as a live musician in SL, but the recording of my first solo album, which is complete and will be released in December.

Do you think SL can be a valid showcase for your RL works?
I don't only think this... I know this. Even in an entertainment capitol like Los Angeles, it's very difficult to build an audience for an independent musician. Through SL, I've performed in fron of thousands of people from all over the globe. I have fans in Europe and Australia with whom I never could have connected if not for SL. Also, SL has allowed me to spend many hours fine-tuning the performance of my original songs, so that by the time I walked into the studio to record them "for real", I was completely comfortable and familiar with my own stuff... more so than I'd ever been before in a studio environment. I credit SL for being a big part of my success so far as a musician.

How would you describe your style?
Personally, I'm an easygoing guy who likes to enjoy himself, and likes to interact with and engage the audience. Musically, I'm a singer songwriter who still likes to rock, so both in my live performances and on my album, there's a pretty wide range that spans from soft, sensitive, eclectic sounds, through hard-hitting power rock. While my album uses full instrumentation of drums, bass, multiple guitars, keyboards and so on, in SL I am committed to just perform using my acoustic guitar, voice, and occasional harmonica. If I can do a great performance with those limitations, it proves that the songs I'm doing can stand on their own.

Which are the sources of your inspiration?
Certainly my ladyfriend, Kat Claxton. She inspires me all the time. But I also draw from many things in my life experiences, in fiction, in my friends' lives. Like many artists will tell you, I really don't always know where the songs come from. They seem to flow through me rather than from me. I'm just there as a conduit to write them down and then perform them. I'm never successful "trying" to write a song. The songs are either there or they aren't, and I can't force them to come out when I feel like it. They come when they feel like it.

Do you use other kind of digital promotions?
Probably all of them. I'm easily findable on Facebook, on MySpace, on Twitter, on ReverbNation and so on. As mentioned earlier, I also have my own web site at, where samples of my recorded work can be heard, as well as other stuff you'd expect to find on a musician's web site (lyrics, videos, and so on). With the album imminent to be released, we are also making arrangements to have my music be available through iTunes (all countries), Napster, eMusic, Amazon MP3, and others. So yes, digital promotion is very important to me.

Any thing else you would like to add?
I think it's only a matter of time before SL (and, on a more general basis, 3D Internet platforms beyond SL) will be seen as a vital aspect of any musician's career path. I consider myself fortunate that I got into SL relatively early, because if you fast forward five years, I think you'll literally have tens of thousands of musicians trying to get noticed here, and it will become more and more difficult to find the opportunities I've been lucky enough to take advantage of in SL. While I'm not a person who makes fame and/or fortune a big priority, I am taking steps to not only have my album get some attention on an international scale, but also to bring attention to the SL music scene as a whole. I often joke around that I want to be the first avatar on the cover of Rolling Stone. While I don't think that's feasible, I do think that through any recognition I get as a musician in real life, it will lend more validity to SL as a platform for other musicians like myself.

Money for nothing...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

As everyone knows it's become very hard recently to run a live music venue in Second Life.
Many musicians consider their gigs as a source of income so they ask an appropriate fee.
However venues owners cannot afford paying fees because they already spend so much money to Linden Lab for the tiers and they never get enough tips from the audience.
Someone is trying to sort it out charging a ticket for the concerts.
I guess that this solution can only worsen the problem.
Maybe the business side has corrupted the pristine enthusiasme that pervaded some years ago all the live music scene in Second Life, when the aim that moved the musicians was just to let their music flying freely in the web.
As a matter of fact musicians who really propose something new in Second Life are very few.The most part sing covers and don't even try to propose anything new.
Maybe the problem is that the number of musicians streaming live inworld increased considerably , to the detriment of quality itself.
Maybe the musician himself should support the venue that host him,expecially those venues that can guarantee a good following because of the time and money their owners spend into them.
People should be motivated to discover new talents and new projects in Second Life and support the artists both tipping them and downloading and promoting their original tunes in the countries where they live:it's virtual marketing, baby!
Actually it's very hard to find a solution:as a matter of fact many live music venues close and quit SL.
And the nitty-gritty is:no more venues, no more live music in Second Life.

About Born Again Pagans

Friday, 4 September 2009

The Born Again Pagans are Madame Amoufhaz on synths, percussion and assorted madness and hexx Triskaidekaphobia on vocals, guitars, percussion, loopmachines and assorted madness.
Streaming live and direct from the Coolsounds & Magick Studios in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, The Born Again Pagans have been touring the Grid since the summer of 2008.
I posed them some questions:here for you their kind answers :)
Do you want me to use your real names?
Madame Amoufhaz and hexx Triskaidekaphobia are our real names.

Where are you from?
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

How long have you been playing music?
On and off, for about 35 years. Funny how time flies.

What instruments do you play?
Mainly guitars, but also percussion, vocal chords and a bit of keyboard.

How did you discover SL?
I downloaded the viewer, logged on and started exploring.

What has influenced you to get your to where you are today musically?
The music itself, the infinite number of universes that lay hidden in a mere six strings, the people that I've met and worked with along the way and the miracles of modern technology (more specifically: the loop machine).

Do you think SL can be a valid showcase for your RL works?
Well, I create my music in RL and stream it into SL. And for now, SL is the only place where I perform.

How would you describe your style?
Definitely improvisational, live and direct with no backing tracks, with strong reggae roots. "Guitars, synths and assorted madness" is a quite accurate description.

Which are the sources of your inspiration?

Do you use other kind of digital promotions?
We have a website at, a MySpace profile at and were on Twitter (

Any thing else you would like to add?
Kudos to everyone who's come out to our shows. You all make the grooves happen. Loveyamore.