Friday, September 2, 2011

Cougar Eclipse

I thought this was interesting.  It was interesting to me because of the unusual choices made in marketing this Second Life event, because of the reaction to it (mine included, natch), because of who and what were involved and because of a couple of the coincidences connected with it all.

Virtual Outworlding, a blog published by Thinkerer Melville (aka Selby Evans), advertised a concert in the Eclipse Nightclub and Mall.
"We wil be hosting our very first concert AND this is the FIRST time John Cougar Mellencamp will be in SL, so everyone come down and welcome him to SL and have a great time with us at Eclipse*Nightclub*!!"
Lavalie also posted advertising the event in the "Upcoming Events and Activities" section of the Second Life Community Forum.
"John Cougar Mellencamp!! Sept 2nd! Hello Everyone!!! The subject says it all! John Cougar Mellencamp!! When: Friday - September 2, 2011 Time: 6pm SLT Where: Eclipse*Nightclub* and Mall Click to Teleport In We wil be hosting our very first concert AND this is the FIRST time John Cougar Mellencamp will be in SL, so everyone come down and welcome him to SL and have a great time with us at Eclipse*Nightclub*!!"
People, understandably I feel, took issue with the way the event was marketed.  John Mellencamp (he stopped using the name "John Cougar Mellencamp" in 1990 according to Wikipedia) did not perform live in Second Life at the Eclipse Nightclub.  I know, and for sure, because I went and checked it out.  I checked both the real Mellencamp's official touring schedule site and I went to the Second Life "John Cougar Mellencamp" Eclipse event.  I wanted to know what kind of performance met the parameters of what was advertised.

1.  No actual visit from John Mellencamp operating an avatar in Second Life.
2.  No live music performance in Second Life.
3.  No videos.

So the real John Mellencamp did not perform in Second Life, natch, and a tribute band did not perform live covers of Mellencamp music.

The performance was actually a group of people roleplaying a tribute band using a recording of a live Mellencamp concert.   Avatars using AOs and props on a stage moving and grooving to a recording.  That was the nature of the performance.

Malia Gustafson played the role of Mellencamp and the other avatars in the band were April Dalglish, Lazer Skytower and Aisza (Asia) Serrano.

People at the event seemed to be having a good time.  People on the forum appeared to be either perplexed or motivated to protest.

Some people commented on the misleading advertising.

Some people commented on the potential violation of ToS and copyright law.

I think people might have preferred to see, say, "come see LightNing StrikeS, tribute band, do John Mellencamp at Eclipse" or somesuch.  (There are a lot of other ways this could have been handled, especially after people started commenting on it in the forum threads.)

Lavalie's response was that the show was free.   (The band earned a fee from the club owners and put out tip jars, but there was no entry fee to attend.  I tipped $L50 knowing I was going to take pictures and make a blog post.) She also said that people knew it was not really John Mellencamp.   (It's not clear how she knew what people knew.  I saw at least one person ask her how Eclipse had managed to secure such a famous celebrity for their club.)  Lavalie also stated that because there were live humans operating the avatars on the stage and streaming a recording of a live show, that the Eclipse show was, as advertised, a "live" show.  The avatars' AOs were moving them in real time.  Live.  I feel, as I suspect most do, that this is an incredibly low standard for the definition of a "live" performance.  This would make any performance in which the avatar's operator was not afk and on autopilot, moving to a recording of some sort, a "live" performance.  I'm also now a little curious to know how Lavalie knows no one has done a Mellencamp performance in Second Life before.  (The advertising said this event would be the first time Mellencamp peformed in Second Life.  How does she know?)

So it was free and there was something to see, so get over your bad self.  That seems to be the message from Lavalie.

The message back appears to be, "you screwed up, own it, recognize it, apologize for it, don't do it again, exit with some grace, and then, yeah, we"ll get over our bad selves."

I do think it is interesting that Thinkerer Melville aka Selby Evans, a man who runs a website created to help new Second Life residents, a man who says he is a Ph.D. who taught classes in both psychology and computer science, would be so lax about supporting such misleading information on his website.  He attended the concert, so it is not for lack of information.  Maybe Melville thinks we should get over our bad selves too.  Maybe it was an oversight, a brain fart, a favor for a friend or something.  Maybe Lavalie and Melville have not had the opportunity to experience the real live music performers in Second Life yet and do not understand quite how high and specific the expectations are for those of us who have.

The concert may have had more attendees because of this advertising, hell, I would not have gone except to see how they were going to reconcile the event with the advertising, but it has potentially caused longer term damage for the credibility and reputation of Lavalie, Melville and Eclipse.  My hope is that all parties involved will recognize the value of a gracious explanation and apology and remedy the situation.  We'll see...

In the meantime, I will mention the odd coincidences and then post some pictures from and related to the concert.

The odd coincidences?  Thinkerer Melville for one, for me, Randall Ahren, too. Randall's the one who asked about Mellencamp. He also happens to be a supporter of my blogs.  And then I think I saw Pep's new friend Mayalily at the concert.  Imagine my surprise.

I'd love commentary, so please, if you have some thoughts on the advertisement, the event, the nature of "live" shows in Second Life or this blog post in general, comment away.

Here come the pics.

Advertisement for the event on Virtual Outworlding.  That's Thinkerer Melville looking up at the poster.

One of the advertisements for the event on SLF.

This is one of the posters inworld at the venue.

The roleplaying tribute band performing at the Mellencamp concert.

Malia Gustafson as John Cougar Mellencamp.

One of the tip jars.

People seemed to be enjoying themselves.  There was a lot of enthusiastic gesture spamming going on in there.


Links: District Indigo/217/99/22/


This was Lavalie's reply to me in the "Scratch" thread on SLF for which I thanked her.
"I understand I worded it wrong, obviously people on here know that it's not really him. So I'm going to be the bigger person here.. and accept everyones information and APOLOGIZE for misinforming everyone of what a "LIVE" show is. The post should have read.. "TRIBUTE BAND" I do realize that "Live" means different things to different people. Being that I am new to SL, I didn't know all of the rules (which is definitely something I should have looked up) so THANK YOU for informing me of the correct information. I apologize for being snappy about this, I just didn't see it was wrong in my eyes, but now I see exactly what you were all talking about. So once again.. I am truly sorry for misinforming everyone."
"Thank you for pointing that out and I once again do apologize. I appreciate your input."

I'm not entirely sure what Summer Carillon's connection to the event is, but she also gave an explanatory comment in a post in that same thread.

Ah, mystery solved.  Eclipse appears to be owned by DJ disFUNctional (hercules.fallen) and Summer Carillon is his "summer love" and the co-owner of Eclipse.


Lavalie was advised to notify a moderator and ask to have the thread ("Scratch," which was one of two) pulled.  I see now that the thread is gone.


Next day (9/3).  It looks like both threads have been pulled now.

Also, the Virtual Outworlding blog post has been pulled.
"Sorry, the page you were looking for in the blog Virtual Outworlding does not exist."
Aack.  Scratch that.  The blog post is still there, it's just my link that's borked.  Here are the unborked VO blog post links:


  1. F.R.A.U.D. in the U.S.A. !
    F.R.A.U.D. in the U.S.A. !
    F.R.A.U.D. in the U.S.A. , yeah, yeah
    Fraudin' in the U.S.A.

    Captcha : citychar

  2. There is an argument over what "Live" means ???

    If I said they should be executed for crimes against humanity.....would you think I had gone too far ???

  3. Mayalilie is my friend, too.

    @Orfeu thanks for the post on SLF. It meant a lot to me.

  4. @ Storm you are welcome...I applaud your enthusiasm for trying to re-vivify the SLF...will prolly lurk more than post there though....I rely on Lee to point me to where the good stuff is.

    Inorite...I really am a lazy fuckwit.


  5. Money (in the form of Lindens) changed hands. There were tip jars, plastered with pilfered, copywritten images. I hope that the real John Mellencamp gets wind of this and rattles some SL legal cages. This was fraud, not so pure and not so simple. I can't imagine that there would be much in the way of monetary damages awarded but these people did something seriously wrong.

    To shrug and say "oh it was just a SL thing in a little venue; it is of no importance" fails to recognize the bigger issue here. Letting something like this go with a slap of the wrist (and it sounds like even that hasn't taken place) just allows for more of the same and worse. — the proverbial slippery slope.

    I am not fluent in the laws that cover these things but, geez Louise!

    Also as a once avid fan of SL music, the music with real musicians playing their real instruments and streamed live...this kind of slimy, purposeful misrepresentation just makes me 200 kinds of angry on behalf the the legit musicians.

    Btw, the give away to anyone remotely a fan is the use of the dreaded "Cougar" in the promo.

  6. L said...

    "Btw, the give away to anyone remotely a fan is the use of the dreaded 'Cougar' in the promo."

    inorite? ;)

  7. So I added some ETAs today. Both of the SLF threads have been pulled and the Virtual Outworlding post has been pulled too.

  8. Correction: The blog post is still there, my link to it is just borked now.

  9. I never was real clear on what this one was about:

    "Fri. 9/2. John Cougar Mellencamp, Acoustic Energy "

  10. Sorry, did I mention that you shouldn't believe everything that people tell you in SL?

    Pep (knew it was obvious it wasn't him because of the Cougar thing.)

  11. Crap. I just did a long winded post and it got eaten. :::a faint cheer is heard across the Blogosphere:::

    I've been thinking about this for hours, such is my situation at the moment. I am also on high doses of pain meds, for days, and I'm saying that because I'm sure it is why I've been thinking of this topic for hours but also because I have NO idea (none, zero, zip, nada, yada yada) whether anything I'm thinking or typing makes coherent sense. It's a disclaimer.


    I do not believe the advertising of this as it was done was a purely innocent "whoopsy!" On the other hand, I think whoever did it isn't all that bright and didn't think it through. From Lee's description of it, the whole thing was really junior high level production (or less). No one should have given Lindens to this tripe for any reason. :::looks at Lee sternly:::

    But again, ignoring it is a slippery slope. John M. is a good old country boy from Indiana with a raspy speaking voice. A reasonable speaking double could be found for him kind of easily I think. What if a voice "double" had been speaking between songs? What if videos had been used? What if money was collected for charity? What if the charity was antithetical to Mellencamp's beliefs? What if? What if?

    Does this type of thing, if left unchecked, have an impact on RL musicians who perform in SL?

    Drew Carey is known to be in SL. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if other famous people are here, too.

    I like the freedom of SL and don't like the thought of narcs lurking throughout ready to pounce at the slightest copyright infringement. On the other hand, music in SL is a big deal and...

    Pep, I don't know if I'm wound up about this just because of the medication situation, but I'm not wound up because a few poor dears were momentarily duped. I think there is a bigger picture here.

    Maybe. I dunno.

  12. I know it's a bit silly, but I used to blog about Second Life and write guides and whatnot for and now I'm blogging here and when I take pictures of performers of any kind and I know I'm going to publish them and write about them I feel it's a kind of appropriate ethical courtesy to tip the performers, even if I'm only there for a brief visit or quick looksee. A "nice to do," not a "need to do." Even "Evil Lee" can have nice moments, ya know. ;)

  13. Similarly, if I wrote extensively about a store and took pics and posted them, I would often purchase an item.

  14. As to L's comments about RL artists, Second Life, copyright infringement and the risks a marketing campaign like that ran for other residents...

    ...similar points were made in the now pulled "Scratch" thread.

    One of the posters pointed out that the advertising was showing up in "John Mellencamp" Google ads and therefore potentially drawing attention to the copyright infringement issue.

    People were saying that marketing ad, beyond the direct and immediate issues, might contribute to unwanted attention on other performers, artists and club owners in SL and a possible tightening or crackdown.

  15. Mickey Vandeverre had a lot to offer on the subject. It would be fun to get Mickey to comment here.

  16. Who's a good resource for issues like this in Second Life?

  17. Isn't there a U2 tribute band as well ?

    Or what happened to it ?

    Kinda related as far as topic goes ....

  18. With the "tribute" bands in SL (which I do not "get" but, eh, ok), at least they are touted as such. I think less of an issue of copyright in those cases might be the royalty's issue. I duuno. I know it is normal Net thing to become an instant lawyer but I don't have the energy to muster that up.

    Unless it is original music being played by the artist, I would think a LOT of the music in SL is suspect to infringing upon something. I don't know what constitutes fair use. I do know money is involved, and once that comes into the picture, even if it is a small amount, the rules change.

    @Lee: I understood your reasoning for tipping the venue because of the pictures, but I think paying people who are either bad performers or people who are doing something wrong (which I think these folks were) is a form of tacit approval. And this is a type of journalism, so if you were to say, take pictures at a riot I doubt you would be giving the policeman tazing someone a $5 and the tazee a $5 as well! :)

    Changing the subject, the other day while surfing the know how it goes, you hop from one blog link to another to another depending upon what catches your eye... I came across a youtube of a RL performer who performs in SL. Purely acoustic guitar, instrumental only, kind of Windham Hill sounding...might be worth a looksee if you like that kind of thing. I enjoyed the youtube:

  19. @Lee: I like the way the snap of Maya caught the bling (I will guess on her earring) at just the right moment.
    Other than that, all that needs to be said has already been...said.