Wednesday, June 20, 2012

8 months and 9th Birthday

It has been a rocking and rolling 8 months since Ground Zero opened.  We have been having quite a ride with many great musicians and visual artists gracing our beach with their works.  We have had roughly 2000 different people come to visit us.  We have had roller skating parties, a Casino Royale night, a New Year's Eve celebration, and many nights of amazing music and friendship and laughs.

Right now there are events all over the grid celebrating the 9th Birthday of Second Life.   At Ground Zero we are part of a 6 day, 6 venue event - the SL9B Pub Crawl and Street Fair, an event coordinated by Brandy Maltas and Seth Regan.  This is an event that we believe reflects the spirit of camaraderie in the music community in Second Life.  There are events each night at great venues.    Please check out the large sign and notecard giver at our landing point that tells you what's happening where.

Not only do we have a great night of music lined up for Friday, June 22, starting at 6pm with Dragonfly, followed by Voodoo Shilton at 7pm and Mulder Watts at 8pm, we have an art show on the beach at Ground Zero that is open from now until the end of the month.  

View from behind the stage

We are pleased to be featuring the work of ten artists.  

Chewie Quixote
Eliza Cabassoun
Graham Collinson
Kylie Sabra
Lingual Markus
Mick Oxygen
Owen Landar
Peter Pumpkinhead
Toysoldier Thor
Thea Dee

These visual artists were invited to participate because each of them have a unique perspective on the relationship between performance and visual arts in Second Life.  Singers, dancers, venue owners, managers, and hosts are all represented.  They are part of our community at Ground Zero.  We appreciate their involvement and think that you will enjoy taking a look.

The beach becomes more colorful!

Looking in from the water

When you come to take a look, please click the blue signs for more information about each artist.  The signs are next to the area where their art is displayed.  Since Toysoldier's awesome mesh sculptures are located all over the beach, we placed the info sign for his work near the large sculpture near the landing point.

We hope to see you at the Friday music performances and the art show. The show will be in place until June 30th - please come by any time!!

You are also invited to jump on the teleporter by the landing point  and see the sights in the sky above Ground Zero.  The Quixote Dreams, Omagination, and Pumpkin Pictures galleries are all there.  The Skybox Gallery houses our personal collection of works from a number of talented Second Life artists.  And if you just need some down time, check out our roller rink.  

Thanks to each of you for being part of our community and supporting our vision.  See you at Ground Zero!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Learning Experiences

Hi everyone!    It’s been a while since the last blog .. not because there is nothing to say but because we have been caught up in the doing.  We have had some great experiences with the venue.  We get lots of positive feedback and some suggestions as well.   We are learning a lot.  One of the biggest learning experiences is currently taking place.   

Many of you know that there are a number of people in SL who take video of music performances.  GMetal and I have discussed this over the time we have had the venue.  We have agreed that we need to protect the rights of all content created at Ground Zero.  That includes not only the musicians that grace our stage, but the visual content that is presented by the visual artists and the patrons.  Even the lovely stage was created as a functional work of art for Ground Zero.  We read the SL Terms of Service.  We read the Second Life official policy on Machinima and Photography.  Based on what we read in that policy, we made a decision when we opened not to put up big “No recording” signs.  We decided to handle situations that arose on a case by case basis, and relied on the policy and the generally rule abiding nature of Second Life residents  that we would be notified in advance if anyone wished to film at our venue.  

This past Thursday, a well-known SL videographer came into the venue.  GMetal sent an IM asking him not to share video if he was filming that night.  GMetal did so based on the man’s past history of not notifying venues when filming until after the fact.  The man grew very upset and was using verbally abusive language towards GMetal.  Because of his abusive language and unwillingness to discuss the matter reasonably, he was ejected from the parcel.  He did not leave the sim immediately and continued the IM with GMetal.  After a few more minutes, GMetal muted him and an estate manager was called who then banned him from the sim.   He has continued to be angry and posted a video on YouTube about how he has been banned from Ground Zero.  We heard that the video had been flagged and the man was given a warning.  The video is no longer available on YouTube.  We have heard it’s available on DailyMotion though.  This man is calling for a boycott of Ground Zero.  He believes he was singled out and that we ejected him from the venue because he makes videos.  When the man replied using profanity and abusive language, that was what led to the ejection.  If we were to ban people merely for the fact that they make machinima, he would have been put on the ban list the day we got the land.   

Further details of the situation are not necessary here in my opinion.  We don’t want to violate privacy, engage in harassing or slanderous behavior,  or violate any TOS (SL or otherwise) by quoting or logging or even sharing the man’s name or video link.  Not because we have anything to “hide” but because it is not the issue at this point.  We ejected him from Ground Zero for being verbally abusive.  The additional issue was the question that it raised about whether or not we are unfairly limiting someone's right to create content in our venue. 

We do acknowledge that the nature of discussion between GMetal and this individual could lead to him feeling singled out.  Because he was IMed individually, he was singled out.  He made a valid point that we did not make the same statement in open chat or have a sign posted.  We are in the process of addressing that issue even though we feel that we should not have to make statements that we follow rules that exist in Second Life. 

We have been reevaluating if the way we conduct business is legitimate and following not only the rules but the needs of the community.  It hasn’t been entirely pleasant discussion but it has been important for us to look at whether or not we are doing what we started out to do – be a place of community for the arts.  What we do firmly believe is that each person who is actively participating in our venue at the time be given the opportunity for informed decisionmaking about whether or not they want to be part of any film that takes place.  What this means to us:  We can make sure our guests have the chance to be notified that they will be on film if they are there.   We can make sure that any visual artists that have their work on display are notified their work to be filmed.   We can make sure that the performer has been consulted regarding the video. Both of us in our RL experience know that this type of thing is common place and often required when shooting video or film.  We thought the same standards apply here and believe that they should.  

We went back to the ruleset that we all are bound by.  When reading the Linden Lab Official Policy on Snaphots and Machinima (found here: )   it states that people need   special permission from the land owner to capture machinima unless the land covenant specifically allows it.   Later in the Terms of Service document it states that users must also be in compliance with the Second Life Terms of Service, Community Standards, Trademark Guidelines, and all other policies of Linden Lab. 

Next step was to refer to the Terms of Service document.   The TOS document is found here:
Nestled in that document, there is section 7.4 which talks about granting a license to use content in snapshots or machinima subject to the restrictions and requirements of the Snapshot and Machinima policy.  It also states that if you do not wish to grant the license, you need to restrict access to your land so items are not publicly accessible.

We are willing to grant content licenses to those who seek them provided that the rights and intellectual property of everyone involved are protected.  All we want is for people to ask us like the policy indicates.  We do not believe this means we do not wish to grant the license, rather.. we expect that people will abide by the official policy and what is dictated by reasonable behavior.

We know there is a balance to be struck between having fun and conducting business in a reasonable, professional manner.  We strive for both, and sometimes we are more successful than others.  At the end of the day, we still feel that it is important to maintain a positive environment of sharing and artistic community by following community standards, Linden policies, and courteous behavior.  We have learned that handling things on a case by case basis can lead to people feeling singled out.  We don’t intend to do that.  We are still discussing better ways to deal with situations such as the one that happened on Thursday.  We welcome respectful dialogue about what the Ground Zero community needs and wants and how we could do it better.  Please talk to us if you have any questions or concerns.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's been a month!

It's hard to believe it has been a month since we had the grand opening of  Ground Zero.  What an amazing time!  We have presented 20 events since October 7th and we have many more on the calendar.   We built a roller rink for a special event and had a great time with the party we held there.  We are presenting music every Thursday evening (except  Thanksgiving) and we have some great shows lined up.  We are hosting an digital album release party for The Follow on November 18 and a special afternoon show with Mankind Tracer on November 25.  All of these events and activities are things that we are happy to do.  GMetal and I have talked on many occasions about how much fun it is to have people come join us on the  beach to spend an hour or several enjoying the wonderful musicians who have agreed to play on our stage. We have the second art exhibition up now ~ the work of the uber-talented Kylie Sabra.  We are having a great time with the place and love it when people come to spend time with us.  You are all welcome any time.  Oh!  We also have a new website at  ~ there are links to the calendar and a variety of things on there.  Please check it out!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ground Zero Public Spaces

So I have been saying I would post some pictures of the different areas of Ground Zero.  I have a few of the venue itself now and am only posting a few here so I don't overload your computers.  I also have a whole lotta pictures you can see on my Flickr account.  Pictures I take at Ground Zero events will be posted on Flickr so please keep checking back there for new ones.  There are also other Second Life pics there that have nothing to to with Ground Zero.. but I am only buying one Flickr pro account, so there ya have it.  :D

Here are a couple of overhead shots. 

In the foreground of the picture above, you can see the garden.  The art pavilion is in front of that and the stage is towards the left corner.  You can also see a glimpse of the hangout gazebo in the top center of the snapshot.

In this picture, the art pavilion is in the center.  Our meditation and tai chi area is to the far right and the stage and gazebo are behind the cluster of trees on the left. 

We also have a sky lounge.  As soon as I can configure it, there will be an easy to spot teleporter near the landing point on the beach.  The sky lounge is available for meetings/conferences or parties.  We are hoping to use the space as a performance venue for DJs and intimate musical performances.

 The above picture shows the exterior of the Ground Zero Sky Lounge.  The upper level under the dome is the open performance space.  We have a singles and couples dance remote set up there and can add furniture from our inventory if needed.  Below is a picture of the basic conference center setup.  We can reconfigure the furniture or add media screens if needed.


We have created these spaces for the use of members of the community as well as to hold our own events.  If you need a space to hold a meeting or private party, please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.  Even if you don't have those needs, we hope you will come to visit and relax any time.

Sister Venues

I want to preface this post by saying that I know there are many, many quality venues in Second Life.  Now that we are in the "venue business," GMetal and I have even more appreciation for what it takes to run a venue and the dedication put in by so many people.  The live music community is generally supportive of itself and of each other.  I hear very little negative commentary although I am sure that it happens. This post is not a criticism of any venue - it is a celebration of the special connection Ground Zero has to a few particular places and the people that run those places.

A brief backstory:  I started working for Gargravarr Rau (just call him Gar) at The Source in May, 2011.  I asked if he would teach me how live music in Second Life was done.  I asked him because I found The Source early in my Second Life and always had a great experience there.  He taught me how to be a host and shared a lot with me about how he booked artists and much more.  Along the way, I heard him refer to two venues, The Roof @ NYC and Idle Rogue, as sister venues of The Source.  I noticed that he did not regularly schedule events at the same time as those places.  I had attended events at both throughout my time in Second Life and also had great experiences there.  I also worked for Lingual Markus (yes, THAT Lingual Markus) at The Roof as a host for a period of time just before GMetal and I started Ground Zero.  I had the privilege of getting to know Chryblnd Scribe (it's pronounced Cherryblonde), owner of Idle Rogue, a bit by that point and have since gotten to know her better. 

My connection to The Source, Idle Rogue, and The Roof @ NYC was (and still is)stronger than my connection to any other venues because of these relationships.  When GMetal and I started this thing.. one of the first things we agreed on is that we didn't want to regularly schedule events at the same time as any of these venues.  . One of the first things we did after we got land was to invite Lingual and Gar over to our space to have a discussion about what we planned and to figure out where our plans fit in with what they were doing.  It was a great discussion that led to what we have now...  an understanding and a schedule that does not conflict with one another.   Lingual has regular shows on Mondays and Wednesdays, Gar on Sundays and Tuesdays, and we decided to have ours on Thursdays. It is easier not to conflict with Idle Rogue since Cherry and her crew frequently run events at times that are better for them (many of them are from Australia) which is typically late at night in Second Life time.  I ended up having a very similar discussion with Cherryblonde about a week later that lasted pretty much all night.  At one point she mentioned liking the idea of having places to send people each night of the week at times when there weren't events at Idle Rogue where she felt they would have a quality experience similar to the one she strives to provide at Idle Rogue.  (I am paraphrasing from a 6 hour conversation.. that is not a direct quote).  After these talks and many hours of discussion between GMetal and me, this bond was cemented and Ground Zero was accepted as part of that dynamic. 

What this term sister venue means to me:  they are the first people I turn to for advice and  I know if I need anything I can ask.. and they know the same of Ground Zero.  There have been others who have been incredibly supportive as well (especially.Alle of The Loft who I mentioned previously). but I feel like it is very true to say that I would not have felt confident to be co-owner of a venue so early in my Second Life had it not been for the mentorship of these three particular people.  The knowledge they impart and the skills they have shared gave me a great jump start.    It is a form of loyalty, yes, but more importantly it is a form of support.  I think of it like a safety net.  This support has already been manifested in so many ways, such as Gar helping us publicize our grand opening without being asked to, Cherryblonde and the Idle Rogue crew coming to our events, and so many indescribable things along the way. 

So you may be asking what prompted this post?  Yesterday afternoon, Lingual IMed me and asked me for a copy of the Ground Zero graphic and our official landmark.  When I asked what he was up to, he said he was making a landmark board to display at The Roof.  While this is something Cherryblonde had mentioned to me during that marathon all nighter, I didn't expect Ground Zero to be included in it right away.  When I made it to the place last night for part of the shows, this is what I saw:

[The one that is here between the Ground Zero board and The Source board is a landmark giver for Hotel Chelsea.  This is an amazing music and art location in Second Life run by Enola Vaher.  They have many galleries and she has live music on occasion in the lobby.  I recommend this place as well and you know how to find a landmark!]

In and of itself this landmark board may not seem like a big deal to some.  But to me it means the world and is symbolic of the generous support that has been shown to Ground Zero by her sister venues.  I now have what I need to create similar landmark boards at Ground Zero and will be doing so as soon as I decide on how to display them. 

I have said it before.. I feel that the live music community in Second Life is vibrant and generally supportive of one another.  The sisterhood that Ground Zero shares with The Source, Idle Rogue, and The Roof @ NYC really helps us to be better able to step up to be part of the community as a whole.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Well.. damn...

Although I am sure this is by no means unique, this story made me sad...   the end of another something that I heard amazing things about but never got to see.  I will go today before it is gone.  *sigh*

Music business musings

Hi readers...

The more I have gotten into talking to people about music and music business, in both virtual and non-virtual domains, I have had a few thoughts.  I share them with you here because I am interested in dialogue about these things.  Please understand... I have some understanding of the music business, but I have not been actively engaged with it in about 15 years and I am very fully aware that things have changed a lot since then.  One of the things that keeps coming into my mind is that the large "record label" does not seem to be as dominant as it has in the past.  With the ability for independent artists to produce, distribute and promote their materials via the internet, there seems to be significantly less dependence on the big business side of things which really allows a variety of great stuff to be available.  The flip side is that pretty much anyone has the same capability to get their stuff out there regardless of the quality.  There's nobody to vet the quality before it goes on the internet for sale.  So then the issue becomes how do people who are making music get others to hear what they are doing in the sea of stuff that is out there?

I guess there is another issue... how big do some independent artists *want* to be?  In Second Life, I see a lot of what we do as venue owners as offering up the virtual equivalent of a local bar, a coffee house, or even a house party.  I am not referring to the look of the venue, I am more referring to the vibe that we get from attending the shows.  The musicians in Second Life play for audiences that rarely are more than 50 at a time... sometimes more like a dozen but usually somewhere in between.  So what's the motivation?  Several people, including my friend Zak Claxton, have said something to the effect that it is nice to be able to play without having to add the extra time of going to a venue, setting up, tearing down, etc.  There's also the opportunity to gain a worldwide audience.  I made the assumption that almost every musician in Second Life was using the platform as a stepping stone to "bigger, better things."  I have come to realize I was mistaken. And that realization has prompted me to want to spend some time learning how the music business in general and more specifically the music business in virtual domains (including but not exclusive to virtual worlds) actually works and is treated by those who participate in it.

As an aside of sorts:  I mentioned Zak's website above.. he has a blog on his website where he writes about his gigs and he also writes a few entries here, here, here, here, and there about various music business and SL topics.  There are many more posts.. I recommend his blog in general.

I am interested in dialogue.. or references to other blogs or websites... or whatever.  Look me up in world, send me an email, make a comment here... any and all options are welcome. :D