Given the amount of info, know-how, and time it takes to shows in Second Life, you might be wondering if there isn’t an easier way. As with mosth things online, there are always other avenues to explore. The ones I will mention here are by no means the only ones, but they are ones I am able to offer some info on and talk about advantages and disadvantages. All online shows have the key advantage of international exposure, low or zero overhead costs, and zero travel time. But there are other things to watch for aswell. This weeks installment in the “How to Perferm your Music Online” series compares Facebooks new “Streamjam” application with “Ustream” and “Second Life” as places to get yourself heard and paid in cyberspace.
Enter Facebook’s new “Streamjam” application. Contra to Second Life, it offers a really easy user interface. You can check it out by logging into Facebook and clicking this link http://apps.facebook.com/streamjam . Once the page loads, you will see a list of musicians who already play regularly in Streamjam, and when they are next playing (I play in there every Wednesday at 8pm Berlin time). Understanding Streamjam as a listener experience is vital, so find an upcoming concert in the list and visit it. When someone is doing a show now or soon, you will see a yellow button beside their name saying “enter”. Click on it. You’ll then be asked if you are a boy or a girl. Click whichever you feel like being and you will find yourself in a room with an avatar of that gender with your name above it. Unless you are really early, there will be other avatars there too, spinning on their heads, dressed in rainbow pants, and chatting to one another. There will also be a bog screen where you can see the performer. It should look more or less like the image below.
To arrange to play shows in Streamjam, you need to contact the people at Electric Sheep who are very cool indeed and actually used to have a massive presece in Second Life too. Streamjam is in its Beta phase, but it is pretty stable and the lag is minimal when you perform. They will talk you through what you need to do to set up for shows. It does help if you have experience with the technicalities of doing shows online, so you may want to do a few shows on other online platforms before you contact them – for example, ustream, which I will talk about next.
Streamjam’s Advantages are as follows: it is far easier to use than Second Life. It takes advantage of the fact that people are comfortable with the facebook interface and can happily log into your shows directly from facebook. The avatars are fun and hilarious and it really lends itself to having a good time. For those who like webcams, you get to be seen in full.
Disadvantages: you can only have up to 15 people in a “room” at once before another room is created. This means that if you log in to your own shows in order to see the chat, you only see the people in your “room”. There is currently no reliable way to earn money for playing, though they are working on this. For those of you who hate having to spend time on hair, makeup, etc, its a webcam. If you are lucky enough to be a novelty or comedy band though, you can always wear a mask to save yourself at least half an hour of prep time.
I first discovered ustream because it was the back-end to Facebooks Streamjam application. This is no longer the case, but ustream itself is a really good platform. It has a lot of users already who you can encourage to attend your shows via the “crowd” function. All members of ustream have the option of joining a “crowd” which is like a fanbase for a particular show. Setting up is easy. Just head to the site at http://www.ustream.tv/ and click on the yellow button on the top left corner that says “Broadcast”. It will take you trough setting up your own channel and show. You should end up with a channel of your own something like this: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/jordan-reyne (which is my one). Again you will need a webcam to do these shows, but it is very easy to get existing fans and friends to sign up. People watching your shows also appear in a chat window next to your webcame display. There is no limit to the numbers in chat so you can interact with everyone and anyone who is there and chatting. You can also record performances to post to youtube or your webpage as below:
Disadvantages: No avatars (though this can be advantageous too for those who find them tricky). Webcam (performers are allowed to hate it). Zero income. This is something to do for the love and for exposure.
Let me know if you have any questions or if you know of other cool places to play online. I’d love to know about them and pass the info on. In the mean time, enjoy the holiday season