Music Island is All About the Music!
by Doc Jishnu
Teleport to Music Island, and the first thing you notice is its structural simplicity. As an amphitheater surrounded by trees, it has a minimalistic performance area, located in the open learning community of Cedar Island.
Kate Miranda’s passion for the Arts fuels her commitment and collaboration on the Music Island project. There are a variety of projects going on simultaneously; Miranda’s is music specific. She handles all the day-to-day operations of Music Island.
When she started out in Second Life®, like many people, Miranda explored the events offered in this virtual world. It became an escape from her profession as an arts manager, and the discouragement she sometimes felt, when it seemed that everybody was doing everything for money, prestige, and ego. It seemed that the idea of engaging in the arts for art’s sake, engaging with the audience and having fun, was gone.
In the virtual world, Miranda quickly realized that there was a need to perform among classical artists, and people were unable to locate an appropriate venue for their music. She illustrated this with the example of a violinist she met, who was playing in a virtual strip club. This discovery and realization inspired Miranda to import her passion for music and the arts from her real life activity into SL. She reached out to classical artists, and started Music Island as the artists’ collective.
Music Island hosts events for original song writers, multi-media artists, and even ambient music. Any works that are not danceable have a hard time finding a home in a club-centered environment.
“Performances are characterized as ‘non-danceable’ music. Our signature is: Anything that doesn’t fit with a dance ball is our kind of music.”
In 2009, Miranda wanted to devote more time to her in-world creation, so she dropped down to part-time in her real life job. Her passion is all about the music—but, that’s an over-simplification. It’s all about providing the best venue for the enjoyment of the performers as well as the audience. She pays attention to the details. The performers enjoy the venue because of its simplicity, and atmosphere. She even designed the venue so that the stage is set on a different sim from the audience seating, which keeps the lag in the audience from affecting the performer on stage. She admits that some people who visit are uncomfortable with this, because there are no animations in the seating, and no dance balls, and the sets on stage are minimal. But she counters, “Most musicians really, really enjoy it.” She has learned how to limit avatar capacity, and increase it gradually, to keep the sim from crashing during an event. Miranda chuckles when she confides:
“The way the stage and audience is constructed both affects the quality of performance and the size of the audience. This is why I never want to coordinate events at another sim unless I have a similar capacity.”
When Miranda conceived the Music Island project, she first considered the cultural landscape. She organized a day-long think tank session with a number of artists, builders, and event planners within SL. The first priority was to assess a need for a venue like Music Island, what it might look like, and who could form the back-bone of the organization. She admits with a chuckle the extent of what they were putting into motion.
“We were too stupid at the time to know how huge some of the projects we did were going to be.”
Within four months of their first meeting, Music Island hosted a full symphony concert, with twenty five avatars on stage, and eighty three in the audience. As Miranda put it, “That was crazy big.” Although this article focuses on Kate Miranda, Music Island is all about collaboration. She relates numerous anecdotes about artists who perform in SL anonymously, so that they do not to jeopardize real life recording contracts. She speaks with pride of the Italian pianist she met in SL, whom she assisted through her real life contacts to obtain his North American debut performance. She remarks on the “simple things” that have come from the Music Island project, like travel opportunities. If a musician has a performance in Switzerland, that artist can stay at another member’s place while they are there.
Miranda has started a Music Island station on Live Stream, and has broadcast selected concerts, with the performers’ permission. She also does machinima capture during performances, in order to make a YouTube film, later. There is disappointment in her voice, when she discusses Linden Labs’ retraction of land fee discounts for the non-profit, learning organizations in SL, and its impact on members of the Music Island community.
For now, Miranda tries to schedule at least one event weekly, usually about midday in the SL clock. This timing works well for both U.S. and European audiences, since those attending are generally about fifty-fifty. Eventually, she wishes to expand into a quad sim, where she can substantially increase Music Island’s capacity.
“The reasons and the rewards of SL music are often misunderstood. People look at, ask, and question, whether there are sufficient financial rewards for venue owners, and for the musicians, to make this a viable art platform. But the rewards experienced by our artists are less tangible,” Then she added, “Stay tuned—come and join us for the concerts. Humbly I am, by far, not the only person who is doing wonderful things in SL arts.
“I hope that you’ll support all of us as we try to present quality, original artistic performances.” It really is all about the music.
To see the full issue as it is originally published with all photographs and graphics, please download Unforgettable #2. For more information, please contact Netera Landar, Editor-in-Chief, neteralandar.gmail.com.
See Issue #One for more features and profiles.