Second Life program allows users to listen to live shows
Students launch live concerts via ‘Second Life’
Journalism junior Kerry Lowery plays live concerts for people all over the world, and he does it from the comfort of his own home.
Lowery said he has been singing since he could talk, and a few years ago he stumbled across an article about Second Life, an internet program that allows people from across the globe to communicate through avatars, online cartoon characters designed by the user.
“It’s just like a chat room except it’s 3-D. And instead of it being solely text-based, you can see a visual representation of who you’re talking to in the form of another avatar,” Lowery said.
People enter this virtual society and are then able to use Internet money through PayPal accounts to buy and sell products ranging from Second Life artwork to virtual clothes to online concerts.
Lowery first stumbled across Second Life while attempting to build a very complex computer. During this project he read an article about Second Life in a magazine, and decided to download the site to test his computer’s capabilities.
“The article was saying how graphics intensive this program was and how it was a resource hog as far as your computer was concerned, so I figured it would be a good medium to test out the computer I was building,” Lowery said.
Once he got the program onto his computer, he began tinkering around within the world.
“I saw some virtual guy standing on a virtual stage singing a song, and I wanted to know how he had recorded it and was playing it back to these people. Then somebody said he was doing it live and it was over after that,” Lowery said.
He installed a one-fourth-inch jack, which allows his guitar to plug into his computer. He said he then uses software to send his audio signal to a dedicated server.
“It’s basically just me giving [my fans] a web address … Then anybody who’s in that section of server space can hear it, but it comes out looking like you can see it because it’s all just a visual cartoon,” Lowery said.
He said his online avatar, Sojurn Rossini, has built up a fan club that attends his shows on a regular basis.
“The music industry in Second Life has the capability of growing and allowing people to establish a career in music internationally … since the site is an international market,” said Kelly Clark, a fan of Lowery who is known as Stefania Giano in Second Life.
Lowery said he uses the feedback from his international fan-base to determine what songs he wants to add to any albums he produces.
“Really, I get the best of both worlds, and I have the recipe to write a perfect record,” Lowery said. “I get the live aspect because I’m playing a live performance. I get the studio because I’m actually sitting in a studio environment, so my sound is controlled unlike a live situation.”
Lowery said in Second Life he gets instant feedback from his fans, which helps him decide which songs he should put on his album.
Tina King, a listener in Lowery’s fan club known as Hunni Darkstone on Second Life, said she envies his online job.
“I think he has the perfect career,” he said. “He can stay at home, sing to lots of people at any time — night or day — and he gets paid for it. No touring, no hotels, none of the hassle.”
Lowery said he prides himself on using Second Life as a medium for his career, rather than using his music as just something to do within the world.
Lowery puts links to his real Web site on his Second Life profile, and when he plays shows, he gets paid through his “tip jar,” which he puts his real picture on.
The tip jar allows people to give “Linden dollars” (Second Life currency) to musicians they enjoy. These dollars can also be exchanged for products they want in their virtual world, which can then be converted to real dollars through PayPal accounts.
Lowery said that a successful musician can make between $1,000 and $2,000 each month.
While continuing his online music career and playing the occasional live gig in the community, Lowery also attends OU and said he hopes to form his own approved degree plan within the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
“If everything is approved, I’m going to write my own degree and create a new one in the field that I’m in, which is brand new and nobody knows about it,” Lowery said. “There are about 600 of us in the world that actually do what I do.”
For those that are slightly less computer savvy, the Web site offers tutorials, and many of the users are eager to lend a helping hand to new users, he said.
Lowery said even his mom, who lives in Kansas, attends his concerts in Second Life. When she first created an account, some of his fans met her at the “starting point” of the world and showed her how to use the site.
“Everyone knows when she’s there and they all say hi to her,” Lowery said laughing, “[Second Life can] bring people together that are far apart and it can also bring together people that have lived down the street from each other and never really had the opportunity to cross paths.”