Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Review of the Second Life Chicago Jam 2010

I'm a huge fan of live music in Second Life.

That said, I've been greatly disappointed in the way the SL Chicago Jam 2010 was showcased. Not by the music, which was great, but by the conspiracy amongst a few of the participants to hijack it with the intent of making it an "exclusive." By that, I mean the broadcast was limited to one venue and if you didn't have the knowhow or the connections to get the URL for the music stream, you had to go and, basically, camp out at that one venue to hear it. From what I've learned about streams, they are intended to hold several hundred listeners at a time and the URLs are generally available for the asking. One of the musicians, the one with the stream, told me that he had bandwidth issues with many people listening to his stream from different locations, which is odd, because that's how it works when they play a gig. This is plausible, but given that these streams are set up for multiple listeners, I'm not sure I believe him.

The problem with limiting the broadcast to one venue is that when you have a real life jam going on, there are a bunch of musicians there who have never played together, have their own equipment and their own styles, and sometimes just getting set up between sets can take a while. Then, they have to go through "let's play this" or "do you know that?" This process can eat up more time and to those marooned in the venue, there is no sound. So, there you sit, trapped in a sim with nothing to do (there is a small shopping area in this particular sim, which takes about 5 minutes to see completely) and your screen lighting up every few minutes as a few morons play multi-line ASCII art gestures over and over because they think it's cute. Those gestures are particularly annoying because they take up, sometimes, as many as 15 lines of the open chat, and when you have your viewer set to only 5 lines of chat, your whole conversation disappears in broken up ASCII art. One of this venue's owners is particularly fond of huge ASCII gestures, so it's kinda hard to discourage their use when the owner is banging them out every 5 minutes.

I've been in SL for over 3 years now and I've never seen something like this done to a RL (real life) jam, and this one isn't the first. I don't understand it, either, because the SL venue did not charge a cover for anybody to hear the music, but I resent being marooned in one sim for hours when I can paste a URL into my winamp and go about my daily business and have great music too. The only scenario that makes any sense to me for doing it this way is money. They had a huge prim tip jar set up in the sim, with a promise that it would be split among the musicians after the real life event is over. Personally, I don't see how they can do that fairly, so I suspect all the money collected under the assumption, on the parts of the donors, that their money would be going to *all* of the participating musicians, will instead find it's way into the pockets of only a few people, namely the sim owners, the stream provider and a couple of the musicians who are in on it. I may be wrong, but what other reason is there to confine 60 or 70 people to one sim for that length of time? And what musician is gonna say "where's my cut of the tips?"

The music, however, was wonderful and I saw several musicians I'd never seen before. Participants included Gina Stella, Maximillion Kleene, Skye Galaxy (both of whom look pretty much like their SL AVs!), Kaklick Martin, Krystian Radikal, Kurosh Eusebio, Anek Fuchs, and several more that will go unnamed because we were not given that information, which brings me to another issue. The video stream was not monitored, and most of the marooned AVs were watching it while they sat listening in the venue. We had no idea who we were watching, and there were times when the stream would either time out or crash and because it wasn't monitored, the video feed was off for long periods of time. At one point during the day, the video stream was switched to another channel completely, but nobody remained on the first channel to let new viewers know they were not in the right place!

There is supposed to be more music today (Sunday) but after what I went through yesterday to get a few hours of quality music, I doubt that I will try to tune in today. Being marooned in a full, laggy sim for several hours to get maybe 1 or 2 hours of actual music isn't really worth it in my book. Maybe the next jam will have more generous and thoughtful sponsors, and I can just get the stream URL and paste it into my Winamp and enjoy the music wherever I am.

I sure hope so.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how you write. Your words speak with conviction and "passion." That word again, for me, on you.....I now enjoy going through your previous posts, thank you. I continue to wonder...

Michael (umm, after reading your posts from August 2008, not that Michael)

2:44 PM  
Anonymous moonde Magic said...

Fist of all I understand your frustrations with not being able to hear the most incredible performances that I have ever heard in SL LIVE at the Chicago Jam. I personally worked on the Jam for from day 1. The only thing I was not in charge of was the stream. We were to have a person come in to handle this for us. Last minute he had to cancel due to his health. We had weather issues and the Hotel had internet issues. On the third day of the Jam the stream info was made available. I personally know that Many of the artist there were trying like hell to get this up and running. Most of them not being admins were there to Jam as artist not techs . So best to chalk this up for a learning experience. And a little advice you can not always rely the internet that was out of our control. If you have questions feel free to im me in world directly I will be happy to assist you. :)
moonde Magic

7:38 PM  
Blogger Duchess Of Austin said...

I realize all of those issues could have affected the Jam. I appreciate that all the artists were there on their own dime. I enjoyed what music I got, but my issue is with the way the URL for the stream was treated like a state secret, and I resent being marooned in a crowded, laggy sim for 12 or 14 hours to get maybe 6 hours of actual performances. If I had the stream URL I could have listened in from anywhere, or nowhere (outside SL with just my winamp running), which would have been better for me, as running SL and a video provider makes the squirrels in my processor squeal.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well we will take all the pros and cons into consideration for the next one. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you and anyone else out there. You did miss a fabulous 3 days. Anek is working on the videos as I type this so you will be able to get most of it on the youtube. Stay tuned for that:)

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its not ok to just take a stream wherever you want and listen, it is in sl for a reason, much like it is in a sim for a reason, you take freedom that was not yours in the first place. as you said earlier "free for the ASKING"you did not ask that I am aware of, and more than several were using that process you seem to enjoy, to wreck the show anyhow, my advice is, to know what you speak of before you trash talk.
just because you did not respond to my first posting, which explained wuite a bit, doesnt mean it wasnt true.

perhaps its fitting for you to be a "liberal" in other forms of life, but not with my personal stream information, I like so many others, do not believe my shows are free unless I DECIDE they are, you take for granted what others pay for.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Duchess Of Austin said...

Ok, I'm gonna publish this one, and just so you know, it's my blog and I can publish comments or not. You don't like it? Get your own blog.

Now, I notice that all you did was whine about your stream being molested but you didn't address any of the other points I made in my essay.

If you are organizing something like this it's your JOB to game it out and plan for shit going wrong. You didn't and the peeps on the other end suffered. You had no plan B. And it showed.

Now, as for trash talking...I'm not. I'm entitled to my opinion and if you don't like it, either get your own blog or don't try to organize anything again. You're not very good at it, obviously. (just so you know, that last comment WAS trash talk, so you can see the difference) The music was great. The technical work bringing it into SL was terrible because there was nobody delegated to do things like monitor the video stream, and to not show up with an ethernet cord?? OMG that's just classic.

The thing is, you didn't have to do the SL thing at all. You could have taped various performances and then posted them, and still pics to the web and nobody would have been unhappy.

And just so you know, you CAN'T hide your stream URL from those who know how to get it :) I found that out from a friend of mine who showed me how. And I DID ask for the stream url but was consistently ignored in the open chat at the Cove.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Duchess Of Austin said...

Oh, and I stand by my assertion that the "exclusive" was all about money.

Peeps can't tip the sim or the musicians if they're scattered all over the place, now can they?

Maroon them all in one sim with a huge tip jar in their faces and what do you have? A captive and grateful audience with plenty of lindens to share....

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The funds were just handed out to all the performers personally by the Owner of the Cove venue. If you have an issue with that my dear He will be happy to show you the transactions. You are obviously a very unhappy person in RL and you are clueless to how real life works. Do you understand what I wrote to you earlier? About the person in charge was UNABLE TO GET TO CHICAGO LAST MINUTE DUE TO HEALTH ISSUES, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS IN IT'S ENTIRETY I OR ANEK WILL BE HAPPY TO EXPLAIN THIS TO YOU . YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE NOT UNDERSTANDING THE SITUATION.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Duchess Of Austin said...

I'm going to allow this comment too, just so that folks who may read this essay and the appended comments can see the sort of intellect we are dealing with, here...

If you feel the need to personally insult me, then I have won the day because you are not addressing my points, but rather wasting your time with ad hominem personal attacks. If you want to address me in rational language from this point forward, you are welcome to, but the next reply with a personal attack will be trashed, so don't waste your time writing it, ok?

I read what you wrote, and again, if you lost your primary person for the stream, I'm sorry, but what was plan B? You didn't have one. I have done event planning in RL and one of the primary lessons of it is redundancy. You always plan for things to go wrong and you have a backup ready to go. You didn't.

You had a room full of tech savvy people and every last one of the musicians there has a stream. You didn't even utilize the peeps you had right there. For example, you could have delegated somebody to say...monitor the video camera (turning it when necessary to have all the musicians in the picture) and the video stream chat (telling the remote watchers who was playing at any given time) so that when it crashed or timed out, the vid wasn't off for long periods of time until somebody realized it.

The things that went wrong, went wrong because there was no plan B.

When you plan and execute an event like this you must be prepared for the criticisms as well as the credit. You seem to only want the credit and you want to whine that things were out of your hands when your mixing guy didn't show up. Boo freaking hoo. You should have planned for that eventuality and had a backup person ready to take over that job, or you should have scrapped the whole thing entirely if you didn't have the personnel to pull it off effectively. As I pointed out before, you did not need to bring it into SL and inconvenience 60+ peeps by marooning them in one sim with nothing to do between performances but listen to dead air. But then there would have been no tips, huh?

Your all caps yelling at me in your previous response makes me wonder why you are so defensive about my assertion that the exclusive was all about the money. Could it be that I struck a nerve?

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arimo Teixeira
I make this statement from the stand point of a Performing SL Artist and Musician at Chicago Jam. We donate our time as SL Musicians for these events. Infact, to be able to take part in Chicago Jam, I had to cancel 4 fee paying shows. They were scheduled for that same weekend as Chgo JAM.
This means a loss of fee's and tips. For me, the JAM was an opportunity to share my musicianship with my fellow SL Performers, Friends, and Fans in a group setting. It was an honor to meet and play with each of them. To me this is priceless. Lastly, I had a great time with all of you! Group Hugz!;)

11:35 AM  
Blogger Duchess Of Austin said...

Arimo :)

Thanks for your comment and I have already said that I understand the musicians being in Chicago on their own time and on their own dime and I truly appreciate that, as well as the quality of the music represented there. As I said in my original post, I am a huge fan of SL live music and I know that if it were not for SL we would not know of any number of the great musicians we have, because most of them are self taught and will probably never see a recording contract, thus making them main stream. Well, maybe Skye Galaxy will be the first major break out star from Second Life and I would be just thrilled to see that.

My beef in my essay was not with the musicians. They are blameless, as far as I am concerned, and I thank you humbly for your time and your talent. My issue is with the organizers of the event and their refusal to take responsibility for what they attempted, and failed, to do. They want all the credit for it, but do not want to take responsibility for the things that went wrong as well.

Perhaps if they hadn't been so bent on making it "exclusive" to one place and had tried to maybe...spread the responsibility and planning out a bit, things would have been different. Most of the musicians there have giant groups and I belong to several of them and never heard a peep about the Jam or a call for volunteers for the Jam. Just sayin....

As it was, I spent an entire day on Saturday (12+ hours) marooned in one place in SL, with nothing but dead air to listen to between performances, and a bunch of peeps running giant ASCII gestures (which adds greatly to the already horrific lag in that particular sim) because they had nothing to do either, and because they think the ASCII art is cute and we should ALL have to see it. The stream URL was a state secret, instead of setting up a stream to accomodate listeners from various places and allowing the listeners to move freely and do their thing in SL while waiting for the next performance, they chose instead to make anybody who wanted to participate on the SL end to sit in one place for many hours in order to hear a few hours of music. Sorry, but that's about the least fan friendly way to do things that there can possibly be.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Ocean Mureaux said...

Large events such as this start months before, lots of sweat and tears, and swearing. OH, and probably drinking. Even with all the time spent planning, the actual event may not be the best for all involved directly or indirectly. You have to take the good feedback with the bad, to make it even better the next time. We, as SL music fans are the direct stakeholders for events such as this, as are the musicians and volunteers and venue owners.
I respect your opinion, and liked the way you were able to speak about your frustrations without downing the actual talent of the musicians. I know how much planning and time went into this event, but sometimes the best laid plans can not cover all the bases. Perhaps the organizers can take some of this from a fan's perspective and use it to have an even better event next year for all stakeholders.
Takes big gonads(or in your case, ovaries) to speak your mind in a public blog, and you expressed your opinions, albeit controversial ones, in a direct, non attacking manner. kudos.

6:28 PM  

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