Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Broaching controversy

You know we do have a “Keep everything positive” sort of spin on this blog, and frankly it's been rendering me mute. I've got something on my mind and I'm kind of bollixed up until I speak it.


The following is NOT me being negative, but rather me being mentally hygienic. I feel the need to address this because frankly things are getting a bit out of hand.

Second Life has been commendably generous during times of need. Many large charities have major campaigns in Second Life. They seem to do well.

But frankly.... sometimes so smaller charities, so small you might even call them personal crop up. An example of this would be the “Save Beth's Brain” charity for a Second Life resident that needed a HUGE amount of money to deal with her medical situation. Now personally I don't have a problem with this kind of charity, but some do. Some feel the residents of Second Life are asked to be too charitable.

My personal feeling is, if you want to contribute to a cause, no matter how small that is up to you. I pitched in to “Save Beth's Brain” and I'm sure glad I did.

However, there seems to be yet another group people with hands out waiting for your money. I'm sad to report this group is.... musicians.

First up I want to say I'm not about personally bashing these people. I have nothing against them as people. However, I find their actions pretty messed up. To protect their identities I'll give them Fake/Fake names and not use their real/Fake names. Let's call one “Double Spooky” and the other “BoyLike Can'tDraw”.

Both these guys want to make a record.

Seems they feel it takes either 8,000$ or 10.000$ to make a recording.

They are quite wrong. But that is not really the point. The point is..... Drum roll please... they expect the charitable residents to Second Life to finance their dreams.

Some would argue if people want to chip in.... what is the big deal. I would agree if that were the case, but this is being treated just like a charity event. Yes... They are having benefits for Double Spooky and BoyLike Can'tDraw.

The problem I have with this is, it further fills the already crowded field of charitable events, with an event that dose no social good whatsoever. It doesn't even address someone's emergency need. It only strokes the ego of two musicians that feel their ticket to “The Next Level” should be underwritten by the generosity of Second Life residents.

And the utter travesty of this all is, even if they succeed in raising the money, they will ultimately fail. They seem to think if they make a wicked cool professional record in a real studio, it's just a hop skip and jump to “The Big Time”. But in reality, recording is the easy part. Selling your master work is always the hard, and costly part.

Mostly costly.

If their budget were ten fold larger they might have a slim chance at success. Frankly it's the promotion that cost money, but the promotion also sells the product.

Provided.... people want it.

To sum it up. Let's keep our charity events about actual charity.

Let's not beat the generosity out of our residents with constant hands out for grid wide philanthropy.  


  1. Thank you for your post, sir. I've not been to many of the sort of events you reference therein myself, though I expect that is due to the artists I tend to favor not holding and/or participating in such. I have been to a few, however, and the vibe is generally a bit strange. I don't begrudge artists wanting to produce recordings--artists and music consumers have been taught for decades that any success at all has producing a recording as a prerequisite. Recording contract leads to radio play, which leads to stardom, which leads to sold-out stadiums of screaming fans, or so they and we have been led to believe.

    Whether fans should be asked to contribute to or fund such a recording production is, in my view, a murky issue. While I've no experience with how much production costs, I expect that such funding is usually secured on the "real life" side either by being signed by a record label, or by producing at the artists' own expense once established. I don't recall hearing of anyone on the RL side of things holding "benefit concerts" for the purpose of securing that funding, although increasingly nowadays the crowdsourcing model is being employed by established artists looking to self-produce sans label. In many cases, the fans of an artist often contribute indirectly to the funding of a new production, though explicit contributions for that purpose are rare in the RL space.

    For an artist who primarily performs in Second Life, the audiences are much smaller scale owing primarily to Linden Labs' questionable competence, and I do not imagine that record label representatives frequent SL shows looking for talent. As the potential pool of contributors for such artists is limited, the crowdsourcing model where a large number of fans each contribute a tiny sum is reversed. The viable options then dwindle to self-funding and/or significant or repeated donations from a small number of interested parties, the latter of which leads to the aforementioned fund-raiser-style events.

    While donating at a true charity benefit is generally pure altruism, contributors toward the production of a recording may have an expectation of tangible return from their donation. That prospective benefit--the availability of a reasonable-quality recording of the artist's music--generally incurs an additional cost, and therein lies probably the strongest argument against this sort of event. Unless more-than-token contributors to the production fund are provided the final product as return for their donation, these folks are essentially asking supporters to finance a potential revenue stream for the artist and then asking them to pay again for the product they helped to finance. I have seen one such event that did reward contributors the right to a gratis copy of the final album, and it would seem to me that policy should be the norm rather than an outlier. I've no idea whether this is indeed the case.

    As you say, the metaphorical devil on the road to musical stardom resides at the promotion of the artist and product after production. The industry entities are now practiced at employing that particular aspect of the process as their "gatekeeping" method, having lost the technology war in recent years. In my view, marketing expense should never be covered by a donation-style model--such outlays potentially benefit only the artist and any such should be borne wholly by the artist.

    My position is therefore more gray than black or white. I've no strict objection to the sort of fundraising events you oppose above, provided that the purpose of the event is clear, the participants (fans and artists) are there of their own accord, and that donations for production expenses yield credit toward or offset the price of the final product. The artists get funds toward producing the recording, and the generous fans have some assurance that they are not expected to pay again to obtain the resultant product. The tacit agreement between the parties is honest and clear to all involved.

  2. I was going to comment on this post way back when it was actually submitted but I decided to try a new "grownup" approach to throwing my 2-cents in. It's like a new hobby. It could have been bicycling or hang-gliding, but in my case, this time I thought acting like a grownup would be fun. So rather than jump right in with typical Vinnie "blah blah blah", I waited to learn of the outcome of the above subject matter: The Raising of Funds by Designated Musicians For the Purpose of Furthering Their Careers Via Recording Projects ~ Ostensibly Funded By Their Fans / The Public at Large. So lo & behold I invited my far-too-patient & understanding Second Life partner to an SL performance by one of these artists expecting to hear news (or at least an update / progress report)on the "crucial" project the funds were raised for, particularly because my dear partner had been solicited, then ultimately agreed to give her time and remarkable talent to the "cause". The show lasted more than one hour. There was much chit-chat/banter from the stage. No mention of the recording project - funded by the artist's friends, fans, and even a few innocent bystanders. Not a word. Nada. Back during the so-called "fundraiser", there was a crucial deadline imposed upon the committed and potential contributors. Many were right there in the audience with my partner and myself. Did they not deserve at least a quick mention of what (at the time) had been portrayed as "life or death"? The optimist living inside my shiny new "grownup" psyche has rationalized that the project is still "in progress". State-of-the-art equipment has surely been hired. The London Symphony Orchestra (as well as their children & pets) have been flown in from England and granted prime accommodations. Geisha girls and masseurs have been commissioned to perform therapy upon the tireless session musicians working 18-hour days to complete this masterpiece. Crap. I just remembered. I'm not a grownup. I'm not Spiderman either - but I'm closer to any Marvel Comics Superhero than I am to a grownup. Back to the eternal pessimist. Think maybe this guy never cut the "life-or-death" demo and simply took your generous offerings, paid his May bills, took his old lady to dinner, and bought some really good beer? Anyone know how much hang gliders cost? I already have a pretty cool bicycle. Love, Vinnie