Virtual Marketing

Fan-hungry indie bands play in whole new world

Nashville musician Matthew Ebel’s payout for a 15-date March tour was modest — he took home about $500 between CD sales and tips, playing to crowds of 30 to 50 folks a night.

But considering the singer didn’t have to leave his pajamas, much less his ZIP code, the jaunt wasn’t exactly a bust.

Ebel’s trek was inside “3-D virtual world” Second Life, where his digital avatar counterpart, avian pianist Hali Heron, provided real-time visuals for the live, Internet-streamed sound his owner cooked up back in the real world.

“It’s not enough to pay the bills,” Ebel says, “but considering they’re concerts that I played in sweat pants in my house, (there’s a) return on investment.”

The growth of social networking — from podcasting networks to MySpace, Facebook and Second Life’s virtual-reality socializing — is, in the eyes of techie indie musicians like Ebel, shifting the music-business model “for the benefit of the independent performer.” It works best, Ebel says, “if you stay on top of it.”

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One Response to “Virtual Marketing”

  1. Matthew Ebel is featured as himself on this week’s episode of “Something To Be Desired”, a serio-comic web series set in Pittsburgh, currently in its 4th season. Check it out at or through iTunes.

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