Monday, August 6, 2007

HOWTO: live concert performance in SL

Thanks to Pocket Pfeffer for the idea of this blogpost.

So, you do music IRL, and would like to give it a shot in SL ?

Here's some background on how the whole thing works, and a few links to the tools that you might find useful.

First, how it works. Not any different from any internet radio - except that the URL to get the music from is not typed into the browser, but is provided by the parcel media URL in the parcel settings.

Now, how does the internet radio work ? Very simple. The source of the audio uses a special client to upload the stream in real time to the streaming server ("the stream" in SL terminology). The latter then is referenced in the media URL, and takes care of resending the stream to all the clients that request it (in the SL case - to all the users that are hitting "play" on the music control while being on the parcel.

Usually (that is, in my experience), the venue owners have the stream anyway, so you only have to supply the talent and have the client to help them distribute it :)

So, I assume the talent you already got... now we have to solve one small remaining issue - to get the client to upload your performance to the stream server.

If you are a happy user of a Mac, then I'd recommend nicecast. It does cost $40, but in my experience is well worth it - well done, with plugins, etc, allows to do some interesting effect (when using Mac, I was generally adding a *little* reverb - but be careful with effects, not to sound like you are singing in a swimming pool :)

If you use windows - there my experience is a bit smaller. Since I am a lazy person, and since I play mainly acoustic - I simply went ahead and downloaded Oddcast. Take the "standalone" version. It's totally free, but you get just a pipe from your sound source to the stream, nothing more. I tackled it simply by taking two Shure PG58 mics, and connecting them to the two sound inputs of my USB E-MU 0404 sound card. The result was reasonable, even though initially I did get some 50hz noise - a punishment for not using the supplied mic cable. After fixing that, the acoustic of the room did seem to make it sound acceptable.

If you use linux - well, then you will use again oddcast, connect it to JACK, and if you are doing the music on linux, I do not need to tell you about JACK and the wealth of the various tools that come with it.

There's certainly other tools which can do better - especially I feel Windows is not so well covered - feel free to put in the comments which of them you personally use.

Once you got your client up and running, you will need some data about the stream - typically just address/port and the password. Pay attention to the server type - you will need the correct one (shoutcast or oddcast) in order for everything to work.

The next step - is to get the place to perform. There are certain events where the club owners get to catch the new performers for their venues. Typically they would be called something like "Open mic" in the events - take a look and then talk to their organizers.

How the cash part works - well, as far as I know, quite a few musicians both take some fee for their appearance, and also take the tips from the listeners. I personally take only tips - and the venue owners are welcome to be present and tip too. I feel the more freedom I give - the better.

This, I think, pretty much sums up all the small rocket science needed to start your musician career in SL.

Good luck!


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