Crap Mariner is a robot whose internet "presence" is undeniable. Being a robot, Crap is presumably gender moot, but I have no idea. I love Crap's name, it's been rolling around my head for a few days. I love Crap's blog, which I've only just begun reading and do not yet profess to understand. I am very aware that Crap is highly regarded in certain circles, and Crap's opinions are touted across the length and breadth of the grid.
My morning lately consists of reading blogs and perusing the network sites. This morning I read that Crap Mariner "will only tip performers that are listed in Tunes inSL" and "will only tip venues that display the sign" for the same entity. Immediately, I thought I had better check out this thing called Tunes in SL, because I would hate to miss out on a life-sustaining venue tip simply by not having understood the importance of the Tunes in SL venture.
To be honest, I was expecting something worthily connected, perhaps raising awareness, or funds for some righteous cause. But no. Or not, at least, at it's inception. "I started off Tunes inSL because I had been given a bunch of iTunes gift certificates and wanted to buy music from SL performers with them." Oh, okay. So this is Crap's personal project. Right. Well ... it's a good idea. And it supports live music, which many of us enjoy and which needs support.
In case you didn't know, here's a quick rundown on how live music works in SL. This is the generalised version. We all have friends, god knows, Idle Rogue would not survive without them. And friends make special concessions to friends, that's understood. But if you are a new venue or a new artist in Secnond Life, the procedure goes something like this:
* Artists equip themselves to stream effectively into SL, with such musical instruments, hardware and software as they can afford to provide the best quality performance. They then seek venues to perform at and hopefully deliver performances that encourage a fan base. Common wisdom has it that startout artists will work for tips. Artists with a small fan base will work for 1000-1500L. Artists whose group has more than 100 members can command fees starting from 4000L.
* Venues rent or buy the land and build or buy the premises they will operate from. They undertake to meet the costs of running the venue and can do this by sourcing revenue in any of the usual ways - subletting real estate, retailing content, and tips from avatars to the venue. They also use these funds to pay the artists the fees mentioned above.
* The theory, as I have come to understand it, is that artists with a large following will bring good "traffic" to the venue. That traffic will then spend money in the various ways mentioned above. That money goes to the venue operator and is used to, at least, offset, the costs of paying for the performer.
* The problem, as I see it from a venue owner's perspective, is that staging a live performance actually brings very little return to the venue. Avatars assume that the artists are working for tips only, and naturally give their lindens to the talent. Large or popular gigs are extremely hard going for a lot of fans, and lag prevents them from camming around and purchasing something that might take their fancy. And fans, by their nature, follow the artist. They do not stay on after the gig, have a look around, purchase items or join the group with the intention of returning on a regular basis.
So when Crap Marriner announces that tips for the month of February will only go to those who support Crap's personal venture, I cringe on behalf of Idle Rogue, and on behalf of the artists who so generously share their time with us there.
Because it's not just about me and my little club, though in the past few weeks I have watched several well-known and loved venues fold. It's not even just about all clubs. Because, you see, the only artists who can be on Tunes in SL are "performers with music for sale".
So, for my fledgling artists - who are scrambling to get up to the speed of real world money earners like The Follow; who are in beg/borrow/steal mode to get good equipment in order to compete; and who haven't even begun to consider how or whether to record and distribute their music - the tips of Crap Marriner, and those who follow Crap's advice, will not be a prospect. At least for this month.
The Follow, incidentally, cost a venue 15000L for an hour's access. Please tip your venues. Take my word for it, they are hurting.
EDIT: To his credit, Crap Mariner has taken the time to respond to this post in his own blog, and I urge anyone with further interest in the matter to give him a fair hearing. I appreciate the time he took to consider and respond to my opinion.