A Futuristic Utopia For Duran Duran
Well, I guess the news broke while I was on jury duty, but the story I mentioned earlier today as well as last Thursday is now official: 80s new wavers Duran Duran are headed to the virtual world of Second Life in what sounds like a big way. According to a press release, the band is having its own “fantasy, luxury island” built out in SL, where they will give live concerts and media appearances “taking place alongside the bandâ€™s media, public and live engagements in the real world. . . . The band has appointed London virtual world designers Rivers Run Red to create the five Duran Duran avatars and the bandâ€™s bespoke universe. Creative Director Justin Bovington said: ‘This heralds a new era in how branded content is being developed. For the first time a major international band is using a virtual world as a branded, immersive experience. We’re working directly with the band members to ensure fans get the ultimate Duran Duran experience’.” [UPDATE: Read 3pointD's interview with the band's Nick Rhodes for more.]
Just what “the ultimate Duran Duran experience” will be remains to be seen, but Bovington is right that virtual worlds like Second Life and There.com (about which more in an upcoming post) are now being used as a new kind of promotional tool, one that combines the social aspects of some Web 2.0 and social networking sites with more traditional marketing tools like live performances and media events. It’s that opportunity to be “present” that the virtual world brings to the picture, and that even spaces like MySpace can’t match. You can become Duran Duran’s friend on MySpace, but you can’t actually hang out with the band there.
Plus, you can’t hang out in what Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes says will be “a fully functional, futuristic utopia, where you can never be quite sure what to expect.” Rhodes definitely sounds excited about SL in the band’s press release, and sounds as if he has some idea of what possible there, rather than simply going along for the marketing ride. “Second Life is the future right now, offering endless possibilities for artists,” Rhodes says. “Our community will be able to help develop the island into a fully functional, futuristic utopia, where you can never be quite sure what to expect. All visitors are welcome! Duran Duran are thrilled to be the first band to become citizens of Second Life and are rehearsing now for our first concert there in the coming months. I think I can safely say that it will be filled with surprises.”
The move is the latest in a raft of such marketing initiatives that have hit the virtual streets in recent months (with more to come — stay tuned). One interesting question they raise is whether virtual worlds are good for much more than socializing and selling things. I’d wager they are, but it may take time for really useful cases to emerge.
Although getting Duran Duran in-world will be useful enough. A first live concert in SL is planned “in a few weeks,” according to the release, which goes on to explain that this won’t be the first time the band is at the forefront of a new technology:
“The Duran Duran virtual world project is just the latest in a series of pioneering uses, by the band, of revolutionary new technologies throughout their real world career, including being the first group to shoot a music video on location [â€˜Save A Prayerâ€™, â€˜Hungry Like The Wolfâ€™, â€˜Lonely In Your Nightmare] with director Russell Mulcahy, in 1982; the first band to use live video cameras and videoscreens in their concerts, on their 1984 US tour; the first artists to make a song available for digital download on the web [â€˜Electric Barbarellaâ€™] in 1997; and the first band to produce a pop video made entirely using Macromedia Flash software.”