It’s been 5 years and I’ve lost count of how many times (probably 800-900) that I’ve spent an hour of my day singing and playing guitar in front of a computer screen to an audience comprised of pixelized avatars. In that time, I’ve seen lots of ups and downs in attendance. I’ve seen some people connect with my music in a profound way, and have also seen those that give it less than a 30 second chance before teleporting off somewhere else. I’ve also seen a lot of other performers show up new to Second Life and get tons of instant recognition, while others (sometimes very professional polished performers with great songs) not get very much attention at all. I’ve also seen lots of debate around performers getting paid by venues, while noting that very few performers can make enough to make the money a primary motivation for playing. While these observations and debates all reflect some potential benefits and/or pitfalls of performing in Second Life, I think there is one other benefit that trumps them all.
I realized a long time ago that playing regularly in Second Life is FORCED PRACTICE. Because I hate backing out on promises I’ve made to someone else, if I’ve got a gig scheduled, I show up and play it no matter how good I’m feeling. After doing this for 5 years, I can honestly say that I feel there is a night and day difference between how I sounded when I first started in SL and how I sound now.
Case in point:
Here’s my song “The Reasons Why” recorded from my first gig in Second Life at The Old Barn in May of 2009::
5 years later, here’s my song “Caff-fiend” performed at the Hotel Chelsea on July 15, 2014:
To my ears, I hear massive improvements in lots of different areas, most notably my confidence, singing, production values, and my ability to interact with the audience. These are the kind of improvements that come with repetitive practice and lots of hours of critical listening. This just comes naturally by playing lots of shows in SL as well as attending shows by other performers. These skills have transferred over to my real life performances as well and I’m thankful for that.
I’d be curious to hear these comparisons from other SL artists if they have them. Give me links, people 🙂