Category Archives: Music

It hath charms to soothe the savage breast. (No, not “beast.” That’s a misquote.)

DJ CoolJ Hits First Life

This past weekend, “DJ CoolJ” played his first gig in First Life, DJ’ing the wedding ceremony and reception for my RL brother, David, and his longtime companion, John.  (Yes, it was a same-sex marriage.  This happened in California, where such things are legal, at least for the moment.  Any flames about the morality or lack thereof of the proceedings will be sent to /dev/null, because (a) I don’t want to hear it, this is my brother we’re talking about here, and (b) it’s not all that relevant to my part of the story anyway.)

The story here started back in July, when I received this message from another of my brothers:

Erbo,

David and John are getting married in Sacramento on October 19.  They would like you to attend and to be their DJ at their reception.

Would you be willing to do this?

Oh, certainly, I was willing!  But all my DJ experience has been as a Second Life DJ, behind the controls of SAM; the question was, how would I translate that into the real world?

SAM outputs an MP3 stream, intended for receipt by a Shoutcast server.  The simplest thing to do was to use another computer to translate the MP3 stream to audio.  I had a suitable machine on hand, which had been a gift from David, in fact: an OLPC XO-1, which runs Linux.  I installed the program mpg123 on it, which could decode MP3 and send the resulting audio to the machine’s audio output device (speakers or headphone jack), and wrote a short Python script to “wrap” around it and mimic the protocol implemented by a Shoutcast server.  The resulting arrangement had a slight delay in the audio output, but worked, slick as you please.

In the interim, of course, I had fallen in love with “Selena” and brought her to live with me in Denver, so, naturally, she got to come too.  (In fact, I think she realized this when she knew she was coming to live with me; one of the things she said over our IMs was “OMG I get to come to your brother’s wedding!”)  So we turned it into another road trip, not unlike the one I made to bring her to Denver, carrying, as part of our cargo, my computer, her flat-panel monitor, the XO-1, and a whole slew of cables and connectors to put it all together, including a wireless router, as the XO-1 uses wireless networking.  Once there, the XO-1 would be plugged into a (rented) “pro” DJ mixer/power amplifier rig and a pair of massive Peavey speakers, boosting its output to fill the room.

We pulled it off; there were a few glitches, but the happy couple was pleased with the performance, as were the other guests, including my parents.  I plyed my routine much as I would in Second Life, and I did see some weirdness that made me think I had logged back into the Grid (try: four groomsmen doing a synchronized dance routine, pantsless, to the tune of “I’m Too Sexy”).  I put out a “penguin tip jar” (a jar with a stuffed Tux next to it, and an appropriate labeling placard), and netted $38 in tips; by Linden Dollar standards, that was a smash hit gig.

Would I ever consider doing this again?  Well, if I did, I’d want to have a proper Windows laptop to load SAM and my music library onto, to avoid lugging around that heavy tower system.  But I’m pleased that it worked as well as it did.

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Filed under Audio, First Life, Music

Important For All You Music Fans…

I try to steer clear of First Life politics here on this blog, because this is supposed to be a Second Life blog, and I have plenty of other outlets for political bloviation. However, an issue has come up which is, as I see it, of critical importance to the Grid as a whole.

Currently pending in the U.S. Senate (S.256) is the “Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM) Act of 2007,” sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). (Link goes to the THOMAS information page for the bill.) The bill’s title says it’s “A bill to harmonize rate setting standards for copyright licenses under section 112 and 114 of title 17, United States Code, and for other purposes.” Well, one of those “other purposes” is, apparently, to kill MP3 streaming as we know it.

This analysis from the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveals the smoking gun: a minor amendment to one paragraph that would require people transmitting major-label music under the statutory license (i.e. almost everybody who does so today) to use Digital Restrictions Management that would keep people from recording the stream. That means no more open formats like MP3 and Ogg, which don’t contain DRM. And all in the name of protecting the outdated business model–and obscene profits–of the RIAA and its ilk.

The implication for Second Life is obvious and all too chilling. Right now, “parcel music URLs” in SL are MP3 or Ogg streams…and a lot of SL’s culture, from its clubs to its live DJs to the entire live music scene, depends on those streams. Let them be made illegal in the U.S., and all of that would be cast aside in an instant. True, U.S. law wouldn’t affect all those of you outside the U.S., but consider two possibilities:

  1. Your own country could pass similar law, under pressure from the U.S. government, the RIAA, or similar associations. Bam, you’re in the same fix.
  2. Since Linden Lab is a U.S. company, what if they decide–or are forced–to remove the “parcel music URL” feature from SL altogether, lest they be accused of “contributory infringement”?

So, if you’d like to see the thriving music scene in SL continue, rather than be cut off at the knees, you might want to write your Senators (or any U.S. Senators, for you non-U.S. folks) and urge them to kill the PERFORM act. Don’t let the greedy record-company executives silence people like Frogg & Jaycatt, Cylindrian Rutabaga, Mel Cheeky, and all the myriad other SL musicians for the sake of their six-martini lunches, their limos and Learjets full of pneumatic blonde bimbos, and their bulging wallets.

The EFF has an action page here, which will help you send the message to your Senators.

(Hat tip: Jamie Zawinski, of the DNA Lounge in San Francisco.)

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Filed under Current Events, Music, Politics

Remind Me

I’m a little burnt right now, and the burnt-age only looks to get worse over the next couple of weeks, thanks to a product in beta, an upcoming trade show, and Someone Who Must Be Placated. But I thought I’d share an observation with you.

I’ve been playing a little tune by the Norwegian group Royksopp in some of my DJ sets, called “Remind Me.” In its original form, it was used in a GEICO commercial here in the U.S.; however, the video for the more up-tempo remix is extraordinary:


When I first brought this video to the attention of people on Electric Minds, I called it “sheer unadulterated infoporn,” because of all the nifty infographics and the way they “mesh” with the events of the video. However, the video contains two sequences that look just like a Second Life “rez-in” sequence, as the client adds prims to your view when you teleport into a new area. (Only faster, alas.) And the protagonist of the video sure looks like she could be an avatar herself…

Decent techno, at any rate. Check it out…

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Filed under Music