Paisley Beebe calls it quits

Virtual worlds TV host Paisley Beebe has announced the cessation of her long-running show Tonight Live. Citing the need to devote more time to her newly established physical world business and family, Beebe won’t be making any further shows. I asked her why:

Oh I hate farewells, I’m no good at them…I always stuff it up. Happy to just transition quietly :) sort of…

It’s a shame to see new mediums like this disappear, and it also emphasises how they’re still a long way off being a financially viable option if you’re needing actual income. Have a read of Paisley’s farewell here. For some reminiscing, you can view my 2008 interview here or a 2011 one I wrote for ABC Technology here.

Discussion on internet filter on Tonight Live is… live!

As mentioned previously, I had the pleasure of appearing on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe. The topic of discussion was the Commonwealth Government’s proposed internet filtering legislation and its potential impact on virtual worlds.

Paisley asked some incisive questions that helped set the scene for both the challenges and opportunities the legislation may provide. As I say in the interview, I’m confident environments like Second Life won’t be heavily impacted by the legislation, assuming those of us affected ensure the government understands the issue.

Aside from that discussion, there’s some great music from Frets Nirvana and an interesting discussion on virtual pets with Sapphira Laval. Here’s the full show for you to view:

A big thanks to Paisley for the invitation to appear and to Bliss Windlow and AutumnFoxx Sutherland for their assistance in the lead-up. If you haven’t already, do check out the enormous stable of shows that Treet.TV offer: they are an Australian success story to say the least.

Internet filtering and virtual worlds: Tonight Live discussion

I’m really pleased to be a guest on tomorrow’s Tonight Live With Paisley Beebe. Paisley is an Australian singer and broadcaster we’ve profiled before, and Tonight Live is arguably one of the most popular virtual worlds TV shows around.

Paisley and I will be discussing the background and potential impact of the internet filtering legislation proposed by the Commonwealth Government as well as some 2010 predictions and more. The show is live from 6pm SLT on the 24th January (1pm Monday 25th January AEDT).

If you want to take part, here’s the location of the show, or you can watch it live on the web or anytime afterwards via the Treet TV archive.

Interview – Paisley Beebe

Paisley Beebe is an Australian Second Life resident who I’ve run into a number of times over the past year or so. I finally caught up with Paisley for an interview on her dual activities of musician and TV presenter in Second Life.

Lowell: Tell me your story in regard to discovering Second Life

Paisley: I read about SL in an Australian woman’s magazine it mentioned Frogg Marlow and Cylindrian Rutabaga, both wonderful real life musicians playing music on Second Life. I was curious about it. Downloaded the client and then spent about 6 hours a day discovering SL. Spent about 2 months just getting acquainted before appearing at French Musician Fabrice Crosby’s venue and going on from there getting gigs and a manager and moving into SL TV.

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Lowell: You are a singer in real life – how hard has it been adjusting to the challenges of in-world performance?

Paisley: The hardest part is trying to financially support my gigs in SL. The actual gigs are fun and easy. I’m used to being very interactive on stage due to my theatre and show band background in RL, and the technicalities of streaming live music are not a problem once you figure it out.

But I pay my RL accompanists RL money to play on SL with me (my voice is my only instrument) and have brought in some real Aussie jazz headliners including guitar legend George Golla, pianist Ray Aldridge, and bassist Craig Scott. I was determined in the beginning not to use backing tapes or recordings to sing along with, as the fun for me being a jazz vocalist is the actual interaction and improvisation between us during the playing of the music and I wanted to present a high quality show. I have managed to stick to that so far, but have had to inject quite a bit of money in order to do that as the SL payments for my concerts are nowhere near covering my expenses. As a result I have cut my gigs down recently to once or twice week in SL (I have done up to 8 gigs a week in SL in the past). The SL music scene is financed mostly through small tips from the audience, which results in under $5 Australian dollars a gig for most musicians for an hours work and even less for the venue owners. Yes everything in SL costs less than RL, but by comparison to other SL businesses, SL musicians are paid very very low wages…for a product they can’t keep selling copies of in a store. And MP3 sales are very low on the whole due to the low music-going population in SL, and so do not compensate for the fact that most of the in-world audience will see a musician for free if they can and won’t even tip. This will change with population growth and more professional artists but right now you do not play SL for money, only for fun and a little more international exposure than you can otherwise get.

There are sometimes one-off events to promote or launch new sims or businesses, which can pay more, but they are rare. The majority of my SL music audience are American due to the time zone and population, and they are somewhat more used to tipping in RL but this means that using the American based tipping model for other cultures doesn’t really work. Europeans and Aussies don’t tip so much, and that then becomes a disincentive for musicians wanting to play in Australian and European time zones, and no one wants to be the first club to charge entry at this stage, so most musicians play for the Americans who will at least throw some virtual coins in the hat for a musician who wants to at least pay his tier, pay for stream rent and buy stuff. Some of the clubs are part of a mall or have a shop and the club owners benefit from the increased traffic to their rentals or shops, in which case they may be able to pay their artists a very small fee, often only about 5 Aussie dollars. But many of the best clubs are there just for the music patrons only, with no money making business attached, and they are really struggling now, getting artists to play only for tips. My average tips are about 2-3 K for an hour so it’s not much. You can’t live in SL off that, and own land…

Lowell: It’d be fair to say you’re very ambitious and keen to promote your talents – do you see Second Life as a competitive environment?

Paisley: No, I don’t see SL as an competitive environment first and foremost. I see it as a social network and another dimension to the Web as we know it. It is an avenue for me to work in the field of work I was trained to do, but had to give up throughout my 30’s when family responsibilities and difficulties took first priority, and it was impossible for me to continue with my career of choice in entertainment. I have a Theatre Arts Diploma from the Ensemble theatre, 5 years of singing training and some radio presenting training through the AFTRS extension courses they offer, and experience in film production, advertising, graphics, theatre and singing as a soloist and as part of a successful concept band. I have also worked as a volunteer presenter for community radio for 3 years. For me to work in RL as a TV host now, is really prohibitively competitive and some would say an impossible dream at my age being in my early 40’s. Having given up my entire career in my 30’s and into my 40’s to deal with some major personal family issues, now that things are getting a little easier for me personally I have a second chance to start again back where I was in my 20’s. And have a second chance, through Second life, where age, demographics, opportunity, experience and looks are no issue at all. You can have a go and make something successful as long as you have the right stuff.

Also the music climate here in Australia particularly in Jazz, is very very bad, worse than most non-musicians really understand. Lack of RL gigs due to closing venues (as a result of 20 years of draconian licensing laws and poker machines), makes it impossible to develop a fan base (we hope the new licensing laws will change things but it will be sloooow going). At least I can develop as a singer on Second Life through virtual gigs, and create an international fan base that would be otherwise impossible.

I find SL at the moment less competitive in the field of what I’m doing in TV and Jazz than RL of course, because its all so new, SL has not been saturated yet with competition in those areas. Like many people in SL who are in business, we hope that when the big guns figure out what SL’s advantages are, and how to utilise them, that we have enough experience and brand loyalty that we can survive the inevitable competition.

As far as ambitions go, Second Life business is such a risk right now, as its all so untried and new, you need ambition and a quite a bit of Chutzpah (and a little madness I think). It’s certainly not for the faint hearted. I don’t think ambition is a bad thing at all as long as you don’t sacrifice integrity and family to pursue it, and I would never do that. A lot of Australians in the past have viewed ambitious people, especially ambitious women as abhorrent. It’s not really been seen as part of our culture, but I think we really have to let all of that fear of being seen as ‘ambitious’, if we want to be successful on a global scale. Keep our individuality and our Australian unique culture sure… but I’m not going to sit back and wait for my ship to come in….

I’m keen to promote my talents in as much as it’s all I have to promote. Singing and hosting is my RL job, it’s what I do, what I was trained for. I don’t have a ‘full- time’ job in RL other than my music, and that can hardly be called full-time due to lack of opportunities for work. So far I haven’t been able to break even financially in Second Life but I believe in what I’m trying to do, and enjoying it so much that I think that one day I might be able to earn some money from it.

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Lowell: Where do you see yourself in a year’s time in regard to your work in Second Life?

Paisley: If all goes to my plan, and plans are well, who knows. I would like to be playing music in Second Life with other Second Life musicians in real time with no latency and a better stable SL client, without having to worry about going into debt to pay my musicians. I have plans to release a Live in Second Life album, it’s all but finished…and I would like to see it selling well at shows.

I would like also like to see continued success of my production company and TV shows, the audience is growing but we are still chasing sponsors to finance it. I really hope in a years time to really still be enjoying my time working and playing in SL. And I would like to be able to earn at least a wage above the RL poverty line on SL, to help support my family in RL and perhaps cut my working day down to 9 hours instead of 16 :) Dream on :)

Lowell: Have you had any involvement with other virtual worlds?

Paisley: Nope I’m not a gamer at all, and I don’t consider SL a game. And the other virtual worlds I have read about appear to be less developed and inferior at the moment. I was fascinated with having a virtual self to start with, and sort of playing dress up dollies with my avatar, but I really just see it all as an extension of my self in RL that’s all, but lots of fun too.

Lowell: If there were three real life musicians you’d love to convince to perform in Second Life, who would they be?

Paisley: Well selfishly, I would want them to perform with me….and that would be Christian McBride on Bass, Harry Connick Jnr on Piano and harmonising with me on vocals, and John Clayton on Guitar. Basically Dianna Krall’s Band without her.. and with Harry in her place sigh. The other band I would love to have on SL would be a big band …and Duke Ellington’s Band would do :) I’m afraid although I love to listen to music the most fun I have is performing it and interacting with other musicians, so that would be my dream.

Lowell: Who inspires you in Second Life?

Paisley: Circe Broom, the owner of the Laurel sim and the music venues she has built there, for her dedication to music and musicians, her desire to promote it at a great cost to herself financially and overcoming all the obstacles she has personally, to do so. Slim Warrior is also another great inspiration, in that regard. Also Wiz Norberg and the team at SLCN.TV in Melbourne, and my own team on Tonight live also inspire me greatly with their drive and ambition creativity, humor and honesty in business. I trust them with my business and my future.

I also admire Cylindrian Rutabaga for her dedication to her music and her unwavering stoicism and Frogg Marlow and Jaycat for their talent and humor.

There are many many more who inspire me, mostly people who see the potential in Second Life and are willing to stick their necks out to use it in an innovative and creative way to bring pleasure to others, or support, or to start their own art or business.

Lowell: Our staple question: three locations in SL that you love the most (with SLURLs if possible ;) )

Paisley: 1. My home ….no SLURL :) – it’s private.

2. Sailors Cove for its very pretty New England Theme and all my wonderful friends there.

3. Circe Broom’s Laurel sim for her Egyptian Themes buildings and of course Sunset Jazz Club.

Lowell: What new features would you like in Second Life?

Paisley: I would like a more stable client of course, crashes during my show and during my TV show are just awful..

No lag! At all, without having to have a computer with a graphics card that could run a Space Shuttle pleeeese…(I know that doesn’t make sense but you know what I mean).

The ability to stream my concerts without any delay. It varies from 3 seconds to a 30-second delay. Between what I say or sing and when the SL audience hears it..

The ability to play music together with other SL musicians without having to use Ninjam which is really hard…perhaps voice with really really great sound quality….

The ability to have mouths moving on my TV show without it looking like you are pulling faces and eating something like really sticky toffee that is flavored with pepper….

To have better mic animations and singing animations without….see above…

To have prim eyelashes that blink when your eyes blink…

To not have shoes and hair and jewelry go up your bum when you teleport…

To get rid of Ruth!!! Or give her a real make-over so she looks like Claudia Schiffer instead of Cro-Magnon woman (or George Clooney if you are a male ). Please can we get rid of the low brow Donald Trump hair that Ruth has….

To have better support for Macintosh on SL…so I don’t have to use Bootcamp for Windlight.

To have the ability to switch off group notices from time to time…when Im doing my show.

To go to busy mode without a busy sign above my head which looks so rude…

To increase the Group Limits to about 100.

To increase the sim limits to 200 and have no lag…yeah right.. bring on Havok!

To have better security against griefers..

To not have Capped IM’s…

To make the SL Client look more like a Mac design instead of DOS…..

To have Preview as in Mac OS Leopard on your inventory so you can see the jewelry, dresses etc without wearing it or rezzing it .

Hmmmm what else…

To be able to take multiple pictures in Second Life and be able to label them in SL each time I take it…

To have better privacy in SL so people can’t see into places that you don’t want them to see,…

I could probably think of a lot more but …..I think you have enough to go on there :)

Lowell: You host a show for SLCN TV – can you describe its focus?

Paisley: Yes…it is a Second Life live TV talk show which through interactivity with the live audience attempts to highlight and promote in a positive way the creativity of Second Life residents using Second life for fun, business or non-profit. It is then recorded and available for download and viewing on the web. It is not current affairs, but hopefully informative and fun.

Lowell: What are some of the more memorable moments on the show to date?

Paisley: Maxamillion Kleen writing and singing his first original song ever for Tonight Live and reducing some of the audience to RL tears, whilst packing out the sim with the biggest audience in downloads and watching live we ever had.

Torley Linden from Linden Labs also attracting a huge crowd and talking so fast and relentlessly that I couldn’t get a word in edgeways, whilst he was also fielding questions from the audience who were also trying to get in on the act (he was of course also taking pictures at the same time).

Having the Second Life Fire Brigade bring a SL fire engine inside the studio and setting fire to the audience whilst explaining techniques in firefighting in SL and RL, and then getting the brigade to put it out..

Having the Harry Potter Sim manager on stage and the Harry Potter sim role-players pack out the audience and the houses of Griffin and Slytherin start fighting amongst themselves across the audience….

Having the Midian sim role-players almost doing the same thing…with various factions all together in the same place……

Having Frogg Marlow and Jaycatt Nico on and having such a wonderful funny interview with them both.

Lots more for many different reasons but every show has a different funny thing happen within the audience and podcaster and blogger Crap Mariner is often responsible for it :) Whether he sets himself on fire or comes as a cup cake or encases himself in ice and Razzap tries to “melt” him with a blow torch, it’s all I can do to stop laughing on set – “don’t read the chat, dont read the chat…”.

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Lowell: If you had to describe virtual worlds in ten words or less to someone who’s never been near one, what would you say?

Paisley: The best Disney animation you’ve ever been in.

Lowell: I’ve seen a number of promotional items come from you emphasising your status as a Diva – what qualifies for Diva status in-world?

Paisley: That’s a joke…I get called that by my friends in RL and in SL if I get argumentative about anything :) They use it to put me back in my box…and also it basically gives people a very basic idea of what I do, but is definitely tongue in cheek without using all the other stupid hackneyed words. Diva’s a bit hackneyed too probably, but so is Jazz Chanteuse and Torch Song Singer and all the other words that they use to describe jazz vocalists. When I’m in meetings my staff make sure I have no access to phones or anything else with which to hit anyone with (thats a joke too….). People think if you are a jazz singer who sings like I do, sort of a mixture of modern jazz and cabaret I guess, and a TV host , that you probably are a Diva in as much as you have tantrums. And ask for ridiculous things like only white flowers in your dressing room and not to be looked in the eye. I’d only ask someone not to look me in the eye if my prim eyelashes were not placed properly and I didn’t want them to laugh….on camera :)

Lowell: Anything else you wanted to add?

Paisley: I’ve just started a production company called “Perfect World Productions”. It will be producing several TV shows broadcast on SLCN.TV. The next production due for release is an arts show called “Dimensions In Art” which will be a 1/2 hour live weekly show with one guest per show. Featuring film, theatre, dance, sculpture, digital art, sound art, music and painting. I will be the host, and some of my wonderful existing team from Tonight Live will be working on it. It will be launched in April/May 2008. I think that the creative arts in SL are going to really boom as it’s such a wonderful platform for artists of all genres to get exposure for their virtual and real life art, on a real global scale. The quality of what I see in SL constantly astounds me.

We will add more shows to the production company as we build our expertise and our team. And will produce shows that are concepts from other sources not just our own, with other hosts.

My hopes for Second Life are also that more Australians discover and embrace it. The Australian community while very friendly and close is very small by comparison to many other countries using SL. Anything I can do to help promote Aussie culture on SL I will. But there are so very few of us on Second Life yet.

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