Last month I announced that I was doing a quantitative study of Second Life music format diversity. I have completed an exploratory study of 838 Second Life music events that occurred over July 2006. Please find here my research, entitled "Your World, Your Music: An Exploratory Study of Music Diversity within the Virtual World of Second Life." Thanks to all of you who provided feedback, constructive critiques and encouragement to this work.
The introduction to my paper follows after the fold…
Introduction to "Your World, Your Music: An Exploratory Study of Music Diversity within the Virtual World of Second Life":
As I write this a digital representation of myself — my avatar — grooves to the jazz stylings of a musician who goes by the name of “Flaming Moe. ” Flaming Moe’s avatar at the moment appears to be playing a saxophone, but from my computer speakers I hear the sounds of a trio performing a jazz-fusion number. Someone from the audience jokes that Flaming Moe must be drumming with his toes.
I am logged into “Second Life,” a 3D virtual environment managed by a company called Linden Lab, based in San Francisco . More specifically, my avatar is in an open-air concert space at the Rockcliffe University sim, with twenty or so other avatars enjoying the jazz being played for us live by Mr. Flaming Moe. It’s a rather mundane audience for the virtual world – no robots, furries, samurai or floating balls of spaghetti gracing the dance floor. Clearly this event is much more about the music than about flashy displays of your coolest digital outfit. Some of them dance, others pose artfully with digital cigarettes. Everyone keeps the chatter to a minimum and concentrates on the music.
Musical events like this one happen every day, several times a day, in the virtual world of Second Life. From your internet-connected computer you can zip around to various digital venues and catch live musicians and DJ’s performing everything from reggae to Celtic to swing.
As a fan of various genres of music and someone interested in the intersections of culture and technology, I have wondered how does this new channel for sharing music in this virtual environment compare to other more traditional music distribution channels? Do virtual performance spaces enlarge the opportunities for listeners to be exposed to music not available in other media? Are there ways to measure this?
In order to get at these questions, I conducted an admittedly crude data analysis of musical events in Second Life over the entire month of July 2006. Specifically, I analyzed 838 public music-oriented events that occurred during this period and coded them by music format, which I used to draw some initial conclusions about the presence and absence of various kinds of music in Second Life. My hypothesis is that Second Life music broadcast provides greater exposure to certain niche music styles that are under-represented within more traditional music broadcast media, while also subject to its own internal imbalances in musical diversity.
In this paper, I will give a brief background on Second Life and music within Second Life. Then I will describe how music formats are used to measure other forms of music distribution, particularly broadcast radio. I will describe the methodology I used to conduct a data analysis of Second Life music events. And I will close with my initial findings and recommendations for future research.
13 thoughts on “Your World, Your Music: a study of music diversity within Second Life”
I took a quick first read through this and was quite impressed with what you have pulled together. I’m looking forward to going back and reading through it again with a highlighter and pen to make remarks and take notes.
Much better to see it expanded and clarified, especially being more explicit about the boundaries that define the report data and analysis.
One error that does stand out though…technically, while Salsa is a spanish word, Salsa music is classified as Latin or Latin American, not Spanish.
Spanish is Flamenco, Duedne, gyspy etc.
I’ll have a more thorough read and think about it and get back if I have any other thoughts.
Recently in the last couple of weeks I have added the actual keyboards I use to perform, except that after the last update, SL decided not to rez them when I dropped them to the ground, so the laptop I bought to go along with the keyboards I made vanished.
Sometimes I feel like I’m drumming with my toes because of the VST instruments I use with my recording apps, but other times I am only using prerecorded tracks that have excluded the melody so I may play along.
Thanks for showing up to my concert, and stop by again to check out my new setup (once I get a new laptop).
Interesting study Rik. Well organized amd basically lines up with my own observations as a “student’ of the SL music/cultural matrix. Komuso’s comment on spanish/salsa concurred.
Salsa is a term refering specifically to teh Puerto Rican style of big band dance music with special prominence given to conga and timbales(and other latin percussion) popularized by people like Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri.
Thanks for the feedback, all. Much much appreciated.
I know what Salsa music is, folks! (I even dance salsa un poquitito.)
The question is what music format does the FCC and BIA put salsa music? I haven’t been able to tease this out, but will soon.
I checked with another researcher colleague. He believes that all programming that is produced in the Spanish language (news, music, etc) would fall under the “Spanish” radio format. So I will stick by my original coding of salsa as fitting under spanish. Other latin american music forms, including Cumbia, Tejano and Merengue thus would also fit under this format.
Sorry it took me so long to get to this… but I’m about to read it right now.
By the way… I was the one that said that Flaming Moe was drumming with his toes :O)
…. since then I’ve diversified my theories on how Moe plays all the instruments. Now sometimes I think he plays drums with his mind. Other times he uses a “Sax-o-bot”
How can I find out about music resources on Second Life?
Hi Chantelle. Check http://secondlife.com/music and http://blog.slmusic.org/ for a good start.
As the de facto administrator of the Security Fix blog, I’ve spent many an hour deleting spammy links left in the comments section –
– comments that usually lead back to the same kinds of Web sites you most commonly see advertised in junk e-mail.
This study it’s interesting.For me music it’s my life,wherever I go I’m always listening music specially reggae roots. You feel nice and relax.
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I am loving your posts. Found you on Twitter.
Anyway, i felt it was about time i posted