Now that they’ve become unplugged from Guitar Hero, the tastemakers at MTV are trying to enter the business of “virtual worlds,” avatar-based communities where every pixel doubles as a canvas waiting to be branded. From a Wired piece on MTV’s efforts:
This year, the Leapfrog team will roll out a “music world,” a new 3-D social space that replicates hip clubs in Brooklyn and Manhattan’s Lower East Side. “Your social status in this world might be based on how early you discover new bands and share them with others,” Yapp says. Do well enough and you can become a virtual promoter, programming music at in-world clubs. Up-and-coming bands will also be able to do virtual gigs in-world, and Yapp suggests that exposure in the CG realm could eventually land them a spot on MTV. That’s a lot better than hoping an A&R guy finds your song on MySpace.
Is it? We’re not so sure–right now, these “live music experiences” in other virtual worlds, like Second Life, are little more than the equivalent of listening to an audio stream while hanging out in a chat room. There’s little performer-audience interaction and–even worse–no beer, although there is the opportunity to make out awkwardly in the back. And really, the payoff for any bands who snag this elusive “spot on MTV” is more likely to be backing music for 30-second puke-and-cry Real World scene than it is anything that might allow the members to assume their flesh-and-blood identities.