By Dann Russo (Dann Numbers)
How would you like to be an international pop superstar? How would you like people all over the world, from the UK to Australia, Norway to Argentina clamoring for your music, asking “where can I get that?” singing along to almost every song? I do it all time. Every Sunday at 7am I crawl out of bed, make breakfast for my kids and coffee for myself, log onto my computer and plug in my guitar. I am Dann Numbers, international acoustic prophet of rock and soul in the on-line world of Second Life.
I heard about Second Life when my daughter (now 3 years old) was born. At an age when many of my friends were “settling down” and coming to terms with getting older and what that means for their dreams, I wasn’t ready to let go. I have 13 guitars dammit. I NEED to play music, to write, to perform. What I didn’t need, however, was getting home at 2 am in no shape to take care of anyone (including myself sometimes) bringing in small amounts of money that I most likely had already eaten and drunk away before I left wherever it was I was playing. I was at an impasse. Then, in an article in the Boston Phoenix (the local free alt-weekly) I saw an article about Second Life. Second Life is many things. There are no rules, except for the one that says there are no rules. A reality where you can fly, jump, dive, play, meet people, what does their website say again? “The Internet’s largest user-created 3-D virtual world community”
(you can check it all out at www.secondlife.com ).
There have been articles written in which the writer is wowed at the amount of money that people can make “in-world.” People can buy and sell real estate. People can create and sell clothing. But what I am interested in is music. I don’t have money to buy the real estate in the first place. I am not computer-savvy enough to create clothing. But what I CAN do is rock. I can plug my mic and acoustic into a Line6 TonePort, open up simplecast, type in a stream, hit play and be heard in Oslo, Nashville, and Sydney. And it’s easy – you can do it too! Think of a “stream” as a PA for your computer. It’s what you plug into to be heard, and fans can listen at a club or at home even if they aren’t “in SL” through Shoutcast or iTunes. Each club has their own stream (although some artists like to use their own), and their own personality. There are rock clubs, strip clubs, goth clubs, blues clubs. And, much like real life, there are clubs that have built-in audiences and clubs that expect you to bring an audience, cover artists and original artists, live performers and non-live performers. Click on “live music” in the events search at 6pm SLT (9pm EST) on any day of the week and be astounded with 20-30 different musicians, many of them fantastic artists & performers, available to “see” and listen to.
On Sunday, around 8am EST (5am SLT – Second Life Time is Pacific Coast Time) I teleport to “The Lost Continent” club where I set up my tip jar and a tower with links to all my RL sites, put on my guitar, and start to play. For the hour, 35-40 people teleport in, bring their friends, listen from home (you can listen yourself at http://184.108.40.206:8504) and from the stage I watch avatars dance, sing, hang out, and otherwise enjoy my music in the company of friends. One of my biggest fans is a graphic designer from Buenos Aires who has helped me write songs in Spanish, another runs a child care business outside London and loves my sappier songs and a third is a computer something-or-other outside New Orleans who keeps asking me to play my version of “Greensleeves” which makes the Medieval tune into acoustic speed metal. And of course, at 8am my time, the Australians are getting ready for bed and I get to entertain them during dinner and sing them to sleep.
There is an immediacy to playing music in Second Life. No longer do I have to ask “was that ok?” or “did that sound good?” because by looking at my computer screen as I play I can get reactions from the crowd. People will type “I really like that song” or make requests for EAB or Café en San Juan. And by now there are more than a few fans who as soon as I see them I know what songs I am going to play – I know their favorites. Hey! People in other countries have favorites of my songs. Mine! The ones I wrote!
And whether I’m waking people up or helping them go to sleep, wherever they are in the world, that’s pretty much the best reason for playing music there is.
Dann Russo is a little alt, a little classic, a smidge country and all rock. He’s a singer-songwriter with radio-ready original songs and a live show so electric; you’ll be amazed it’s just acoustic.
A “soon to be phenomenon” (NorthEast In-Tune Magazine), Dann is a lively act that’s hard to follow.