I had occasion to meet Sara through a mutual friend when I was doing a live interview on the radio, she displayed an amazing depth from the instruments she plays to the genres she sings. With a haunting voice that is impossible to forget, if you see she is playing in world you owe to yourself to take in her show. That all said, here is more about Sara in her own words. --Gatz
Gatz: How did you get started in SL Music and what drew you to performing in Second Life?
Sara: I was a member of SL for years before I even knew there was a music scene! A friend invited me to go to a live music show, and it sparked the idea to bring my music in-world as well. I was doing a lot of RL performing at the time since I was in college for music and was involved with orchestra, choir, and opera studies there. It was a few months later that I figured out how to get the stream going with some help from other residents.
Gatz:. What is your primary genre of music, what other genres do you enjoy playing and why?
Sara: My primary genre right now is Alternative Pop, but that's really a broad title. I enjoy singing Opera and Classical Artsongs, Disney songs, R&B, Soul, Jazz, ballads, rock, modern pop, and even some classic country. I feel that in SL we have a certain freedom to break away from being held captive by a genre. Unlike in RL, I am often performing for the same group of 50 people several times each week. They don't want to always hear the same songs at each show, and the venues each deserve a setlist of songs that I choose especially for their atmosphere. It's very different from performing in RL. When I go out to play in RL, I sing mostly original songs, and I tend to choose upbeat radio-style soulful pop with a few ballads thrown in for variation.
Gatz: When you get up on a stage to perform, what kind of thoughts and feelings go through your head? What does it feel like?
Sara: When I get up on stage in SL, I do a scan of the avatars present and I think about how they each represent a person (or more) that is at their desktop listening to what I am about to sing or say. That gets me sufficiently nervous. It feels like any mistake could trigger a chain of events leading to the ultimate end of the world. While I'm singing, I often worry. When people are quiet in the audience and don't say anything in local chat, I worry that they don't like the song selections or that I'm not giving a compelling performance. Other times I get so "into" the music that I am transported to a place where I can share the stories the songs hold without fear and without my self-destructive inner ultra-critic, and those are the times that I enjoy most.
Gatz: What are some of the drawbacks of performing in SL, if you could change 3 things having to do with performing live music in SL what would they be?
Sara: I see performing in SL as a wonderfully positive opportunity. There are some drawbacks, but nothing that I dwell upon often. However, for the sake of answering the question... Explaining to people that are not in SL what I do there and how I generate some income while doing something I love is difficult. The initial response is to get hung up on the idea that I'm "living" in a cartoon world, and that's not the case at all. Also, when you commit to being a performer in SL, you turn your time in world into business time rather than socializing and "fun" time. You can still have fun and do those things, but balancing RL with SL then becomes a problem. When you gain one thing, something else must be given up. Those are simple laws of time management. If I could change 3 things, I would (1) start accepting payments through outside sources so that Linden Labs didn't get a percentage of everything I earn in SL, because I don't feel they deserve it. (2) Create ways for music venues to earn back their expenses. (3) Inform more residents of the opportunities to attend live shows. Linden Labs advertises relationships and virtual fashion constantly, but rarely do they mention the music scene, where there is so much opportunity for listeners to become involved in the art and the social circles within it. So many residents are missing out by alienating themselves on rented plots of land where they continually edit their avatar's features. Second Life experiences can be more meaningful than that!
Gatz: What advice would you offer to people who are trying to break into the music scene in SL and might be stuck as to where to go and what to do?
Sara: There are so many tutorial videos out there on google and youtube, you'll have no problem figuring out how to get started with the technology end of it. There are open mic events almost daily. I would suggest that musicians wanting to start performing in SL do as much work for themselves as they can before reaching out to other musicians or venue owners, because we are constantly bombarded by random IMs with such vague questions as "how do I sing live in SL like you". My answer is always, "practice".
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