The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (RPL) will be doing its first concert in Second Life (SL) on Friday September 14, 2007. I talked with Marketing Executive, Millicent Jones about the event and how it came about.
Ms. Jones had been reading about SL for about 9 or 10 months in various journals and articles. The possibilities seemed intriguing. Just down the road from Liverpool, the City of Manchester launched a virtual version of itself in SL in February. The goal was to promote the Manchester `brand' and raise awareness of the city in the real world.
This summer the RLP had an intern from Harvard delve into SL and research what sort of projects might be possible and what it would take to implement them.
“Our goals include broadening our reach, and to experiment and test the effectiveness of some of the new technologies” says Ms. Jones.
The RLP is working with a company called Fusion Unity Scotland. The folks behind Fusion, started off in the oil industry, and then started transferring their design and cad work into SL. Now they are working with a wide variety of organizations including the Manchester project.
“In SL, they have created a replica of our concert hall. For the concert, avatars will be sitting in the audience while the concert is streamed in real time.”
The performance will take place on Friday 14 September at 7:30pm. Principal Conductor Vasily Petrenko conducts Ravel’s Sheherazade and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, as well as world premieres by Merseyside-born composers Kenneth Hesketh and John McCabe.
Afterward, the audience is invited to visit the virtual Grand Foyer Bar at the Phil where Petrenko, Ken Hesketh and the soloist Kate Royal will be on hand to chat and answer questions about the performance.
“Response to the SL event has been strong”, says Ms. Jones. “More than 800 people have signed up for the ‘tickets’ to the virtual event. Current capacity is about 100, so tickets will be distributed through a lottery and lucky winners notified on Monday Sept 10th.” [wish me luck!]
The event will also include free giveaways like (virtual) Tshirts. Second Life Cable Network will also be carrying the concert to TV’s in SL. A consultant will be available in advance of the event, (both in person, and virtually), to help people get their avatars setup and connected to the RLP’s virtual Hall.
Ms. Jones jokes that probably 99.9% of them are from somewhere else, but in truth the demographics have not yet been fully analyzed. When people register for the event, they are asked to include information about their familiarity with SL, if they have a SL avatar, and if so, what their name is. So far, about half of the people who registered, already have a SL avatar. A little research today shows that 121 people registered from the UK, and the rest from all around the world. "Lots of US and Canadian signups, but also a good representation from Japan, Israel , Australia, and most of the other European countries." says Ms. Jones. A quick search of blog postings shows over 400 references to the event.
Marketing for the event has included a Press release, email newsletter and inclusion in a recent hall brochure that is distributed to about 90,000 people locally.
A YouTube video of the virtual hall has also been created. The video will be promoted on their website, email newsletter and as a piece to use as another chance at getting local TV.
Total costs for the event are between £7 and 8,000. This includes the purchase of 2 islands in SL, building the virtual concert hall, and streaming the audio/video. The RLP musicians’ media rights are already covered in a larger agreement, so there are no additional costs for the event.
Tickets and info for both the live and SL show are here…