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Von Johin's Virtual Reality

August 15, 2008

The burgeoning relationship between real-world art-making and its virtual-world counterpart is a constant source of fascination to me.

Another interesting development happened this week: A musician made cyber history when a record company offered him a contract based on concerts given in cyberspace.

Nashville bluesman Von Johin performs weekly gigs in Second Life, one of the leading virtual worlds. He plays each Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST at his own Second Life venue "in the Yudasin Sim," Johin's Blue Note Club, named after his real-life recording studio on the outskirts of Nashville. Two talent scouts from Reality Entertainment spent several months looking for promising artists to sign throughout Second Life before they settled on Johin. According to a story on Wired News, the record deal is believed to be the first ever given to a Second Life performer.

Reality Entertainment, also home to KC and the Sunshine Band, plans to release Von Johin's debut album digitally through such outlets as iTunes, Amazon, and Rhapsody. Johin's show can be watched via Second Life or here.

Johin's recording contract is just the latest in a long string of interactions between Second Life and the arts and entertainment world. Here are some other examples:

-Second Life recently appeared on the TV shows CSI: NY and The Office. CSI: NY offered viewers an extended, interactive experience, taking them on a journey from the TV screen to the virtual realm.

-Second Life has hosted in-world concerts by such acclaimed real-life performers as Regina Spektor, Suzanne Vega, Duran Duran and Jay-Z.

-The virtual world rock group, Virtual Live Band, brings together the musical talents of real-life performers from the US, Germany and UK for concerts in Second Life.

-Distributed via HBO subsidiary Cinemax, filmmaker Douglas Gayeton's Molotov Alva and His Search For The Creator is the first documentary shot entirely in a virtual online platform.

-Leading guitar manufacturer Gibson is just one arts-related company with space on Second Life. Guitar buffs go there to try out the latest gear, get music lessons and learn about guitar history.

-Sony/BMG recording artists such as Ben Folds and Michael Penn host events via Second Life.

-Rapper Chamillionaire and grunge band Hinder have conducted meet-and-greet sessions with fans within Second Life.

The lines between the real and virtual world are extremely porous at this point. It'll be interesting to see how the arts evolve in Second LIfe and other platforms like it.

In other news, I'll be taking a vacation next week. I'll be back in the blogosphere towards the end of the month.


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