This is a guest post by Neal Hoffmann, a musician and a regular at playing gigs online. Today he’s going to share with us how he makes real money from gigging inside computer games and over the internet. If you’re interested in hearing some of his music, you can do so here: http://www.reverbnation.com/amphibic. Now, let’s hear how Neal does it:
Let’s talk about playing gigs online, or cyber gigs as some people call them. I’ll tell you how you can get started with this in case you’re interested.
I have been playing gigs online for the past year and a bit, after I got introduced to this world by my friend Jordan Reyne; a Kiwi singer-songwriter.
Playing gigs online can have positive effects on quite a few areas in your life as a musician. They can help you spread the word about your music, and find fans in far away countries where your budget would probably never have got you otherwise. They can also provide you with a few of pounds (or dollars) so you can actually make a little bit of money without leaving the house and spending it all on transport and booze straight away. These computer game gigs can also help you build a community around what you do as a musician.
The Two Main Types Of Online Gigging (Webcam Gigs Vs Virtual Reality Gigs)
Cyber gigs come in two main flavors:
- Webcam based gigs, and
- Virtual reality based gigs.
The two platforms that I use for these are Second Life (for virtual reality gigs), and Numubu for the webcam based ones. That said, there are quite a few more platforms of each variety out there, so you can look around then pick and mix.
Performing on virtual reality based platforms requires the bigger learning curve. Because of this, you should probably start with the webcam gigs. I didn’t, but never mind.
How To Play Gigs Online Using A Webcam
I take it you’re a performer with your own original songs and you have played some live gigs before. Quite a few people play covers in Second Life, but what I’m talking about is more relevant to original material. The webcam based gigs are original songs only, as far as I am aware.
For these webcam shows, you’ll need:
- A microphone plus stand,
- A guitar or keyboard, unless it’s all ‘a cappella’ or you use backing tracks,
- A small mixer,
- A USB or Firewire interface (or Thunderbolt soundcard), and
- A computer with a strong internet connection.
Yep, you do need to be connected to the internet. Webcam based platforms like Numubu will handle the streaming for you.
Once on their website, go and register an account. Click a green button that says ‘Go live now’, say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to tipping, agree to use Paypal or not, and click ‘yes’ when their software asks you whether it can access your audio.
The next thing you’ll see is your face on the screen, provided you have hooked up a webcam or camcorder of some sort. I use the one in my iMac screen. You can find me here on Numubu: http://www.numubu.com/nealhoffmann.
I aim to play there once a week, normally 8pm (GMT) on Wednesday nights.
If you would like to give it a shot, just go there, register and see what gives. Cliff and Rob are friendly and helpful, and will help you with any issues. Tell your friends and fans about your gig and you are in business.
How To Get Paid For Playing Gigs In Computer Games (Virtual Reality Gigs)
For the virtual reality gigs, you will have to learn quite a few things in a short space of time. First of all, you’ll have to get yourself a free account in Second Life. You choose an avatar and download a piece of software, called a viewer, which is a bit like a 3D browser. There are also 3rd party viewers like Firestorm.
You also need some software to stream your audio into whichever virtual reality platform you are on. I use Butt which is available for free.
Once you have that, you need to book someone to pick up your audio stream inworld and broadcast / stream it to the venues. It’s not expensive, but you can’t do without it. It costs roughly between one and two coffees per month.
The streaming services’ address has to be added to Butt before you can play your first performance in Second Life. The venue has to get that streaming address from you as well. Don’t forget to set Butt to use your quality soundcard. Mine defaulted to the internal (horrible one) the other day after I made some changes.
After that, make sure your avatar pops along to the venue on time. Be at least 15-20 minutes early, otherwise the promoter might freak out. Just like in real life. Wait for the performer who is on before you to finish, and then move your virtual character behind onto the stage.
Virtual reality gigs are normally one hour long, which reminds me of something that a lot of people underestimate. Performing cyber gigs will seriously increase your level of performance skills!! No matter what level you are at, you will soon have to get used to an improved version of yourself.
Now, online communities differ from the crowds that normally come to your gigs. The ladies and gents who visit these cyber worlds are very, very loyal. They will come along to 2-3 gigs a week if they can make the time.
They love the fact that they can be the first ones to hear your latest music and are able to chat to you using the chat facilities.
The audience can talk to each other using the local chat window, where you, the performer, can also see what is going on while you are playing. You can then use your mic to comment on what’s going on in between your songs. It is very much like playing an intimate club gig, but unlike real life, you get to hear what’s said by your audience.
How Much Money Can You Make From Gigging In Second Life?
Once you manage to get a bit of a foothold in Second Life, you can get a fixed fee of around £10 (around $16.50) plus tips on top. The name of Second Life’s online currency is Lindens; 4000 Lindens roughly equals £10 pounds. This is real money you can withdraw and spend in real life.
That said, having someone help you with booking gigs is recommended, as there are quite a few venues trying to book you for nothing. These are called tips only venues. Some of these are great places that will help you find fans and make a name for yourself, but I think it should be the exception not the rule.
Conclusion (And Bonus Tip)
The online world can be your oyster and you’ll make some lovely new friends in cyber space. New fans in Norway, Finland, Columbia, the US, Canada, Poland etc etc. Normally, you would need to be on a superstar’s budget to be able to travel to each of these places in person.
After a while some of your new friends might even start coming to your real life concerts if they’re in traveling distance.
Cyber gigs are becoming increasingly popular, so get in there before everyone else does.
My name’s Neal Hoffmann, and if there is anything else you’d like to know about this subject, give me a shout or leave a comment below. I’m just about to launch my own record label, so if you’d like to hear my stuff, you can do so here: http://www.reverbnation.com/amphibic. You can also hear more songs of mine here: https://soundcloud.com/amphibic.
P.S: You may be wondering where you can get the virtual version of whatever instrument you play from!? Well, you can easily buy one in Second Life. So my avatar (or avi) has a guitar round his neck, and it comes with a couple of different strumming motions. Don’t fret, stuff in Second Life is generally pretty affordable, and will add to your stage presence.