Warner Brothers’ Sire Records is launching “an interactive virtual listening party” for songstress Regina Spektor‘s new album, “Begin to Hope,” next week in the virtual world of Second Life. The event marks “the first time a major record company has launched a virtual record release in Second Life and held a listening party for one of its artists,” according to a press release. In a series of locations around SL that were built out by Reuben Steiger’s virtual world services company, Millions of Us, residents will be able to hang out, chat and listen to songs from the album in their entirety, according to Steiger. The album itself isn’t due in stores until June 13.
The listening stations, which are built out as loft apartments whose scenery changes depending on which song is playing, will probably be a nice way to preview the material with friends (as opposed to the solitary listening experience of previewing an album on a site like Amazon.com, say), and against the backdrop of a thriving virtual world — though some may prefer dedicated spaces like PCD Music Lounge.
More interesting is that it looks like Sire is letting SL residents hear the album before the general public. That’s a hefty vote for SL as viral marketing environment — though the ultimate effectiveness of such approaches remains to be see. The project is also a feather in Millions’ cap. Going from zero to Warner Brothers as a company’s first post-launch client is not bad at all. Word is that virtual world services companies like Millions, Rivers Run Red, and the Electric Sheep Company (who sponsor this blog) have more work than they can handle at the moment. So it seems only a matter of not much time before more such companies spring up. Not long after that we’ll have to start looking more closely at how sustainable such businesses are. Is there a watershed moment ahead for virtual worlds? Too soon to tell. The 3pointD ball says Ask Again Later.