Friday, December 16, 2011

The Follow - Performing in Second Life and Real Life

Rock'n'roll saved my soul. 

            Recently, my friend and Second Life performer, Spec Belfire, told me about a band, The Follow, that besides playing great music, coexisted in both Second Life (SL) and Real Life (RL). After writing my earlier story about what is SL I was especially intrigued about what was going on here.  So, I reached out to Powers Avon whom Spec told me is part of the band and its inworld spokesperson. 

            The band styles themselves as a panoramic rock group from the heartland of America and consists of Troy Rickertsen (Troy Shoreland in SL) Mat Matlack (Powers Avon in SL), and Amy Rickertsen (AJ Darkwatch in SL).  Troy does voice and guitar; Mat, drums and samples; and, Amy does bass, voice, and fatar.  Albums released to date  Bu
are Building Machines to Reach the Stars, Mixtures (The Remixes), Up with the Sun, Nowaitingplease, and Origins.  The band plays concerts in both SL and RL.  In addition, its albums can also be purchased inworld at the SL Marketplace. 
ixes), Up with the Sun, Nowaitingplease, and Origins.  T
            The origins of The Follow go back to when Troy and Mat were teenagers running cross country track, skateboarding, and riding ATV’s in backfields.  Apparently, the skateboarding required music (I learned something here) which led to long discussions about music on equally long bus rides to track meets.  Troy credits U2, REM, The Church, and The Cure as being early influences on both of them.  (Notice I haven’t said anything about Amy yet?  Don’t worry, she’ll be here soon.)  A friend had some recording equipment which he lent them and this allowed them to record fifteen to twenty cover songs and two originals. 

            Amy (I said we’d get to her) attended the early rehearsals and despite the “mess” that Troy and Mat were making with them and loved what was going on.  But, she still wasn’t playing with the band.  The way Mat tells the story is that the next big moment in The Follow’s history is when they were working on their second album.  It was a major undertaking.  Amy funded the project by providing the gear that would be used for their next two albums.  The band itself was also transitioning creatively and Amy stepped in to play bass and “never looked back” as Mat puts it.  Mat tells me there’s a lot more to the story but these are the essentials about how The Follow came to be. 

            Now, let’s talk about how The Follow came to be in SL.  Mat first learned about SL in 2005 and “had a hard time understanding the concept” in his words.  (Nothing to be ashamed of, I still can’t figure out how to get a tune out of a guitar.) He created an avatar but couldn’t get off of Welcome Island.  (Hear that, Linden Lab?)  Later in 2009, a longtime friend and acquaintance of his from within the music industry told Mat about what he was discovering, a thriving music scene in a virtual world.  Mat then created the avatar Powers Avon and started experiencing live shows in SL with the awe of a young boy. (I, alas, still can’t get a tune out of a guitar.) 

             Mat and The Follow have a unique view on how SL fits into their music promotion theory.  He views music promotion as the spokes of a wheel.  One is radio airplay. Another is press coverage (reviews, interviews). There is publicity (TV appearances, speaking engagements). Next is retail (dying a slow death). Then comes video exposure (TV shows, viral net play). Followed by song placements (movies, TV, commercials). And, perhaps the most important of all, touring. Troy sees SL as another spoke in the wheel. Not just SL, but the Metaverse, web worlds, virtual worlds, whatever one wants to call it. Now, the Metaverse is its own beast because it includes some of the other spokes within it (radio, TV, press, video, retail, touring). The point here is that it’s all intertwined for The Follow. They consider RL and the Metaverse when strategizing.

            The Follow is very satisfied with its results from SL. Mat says that the impact SL has had on the band is one of the biggest impacts that any form of promotion or marketing has accomplished for them. For him, the beautiful thing is that once they engaged in the SL culture, they realized that it’s so much more than a means to promote. The Follow has made true friends here and consider their fans in SL to be a part of their family now.

                        To Mat’s last point, The Follow has a very large and active group inworld entitled “The Follow”.  Anyone interested in staying up with them should join. 

             When Mat is asked if he would do anything differently with his approach to SL, he says he would do things the same way.  He has enjoyed growing through SL. 

            The Follow has performed in other virtual worlds like inworldz and SpotON3D.  Others they have investigated include OSgrid, Heritage Key, and a couple of others.  They are also engaged actively with social media.  Troy believes that your music is not getting the exposure it deserves if you’re not.  The Follow can be found at;;; and  In SL, they can be found at The Follow Music HUB.  .
            The Follow hopes to continue meeting new people and hopefully create new fans of the music. (They’ve got me!) They plan on honoring their family of fans by delivering quality shows with excellence. More live video streams are in their current plans (about once a month) and are also building a concept with some friends around a secret show that is only discovered through a scavenger hunt. They are trying to keep things interesting, while not diverting their attention too far from the music. The band has a wonderful team that allows us to keep focused.

            As for the immediate future, The Follow’s next gig in SL is Saturday, December 17th at Key West at 8PM SLT, admission is free.  The band will be taking most of February 2012 off to work on writing and recordings. 

            The group’s website contains information about the band, its music and future shows. 
            Writing this story has once again got me thinking about what SL is really all about.  SL is not just another social media like Facebook or Twitter.  It’s not a calendaring or scheduling tool.  And, it’s definitely not a game. (I think we settled that one earlier.)  But, what it is an opportunity for people to come together from wherever and be joined by something they enjoy.  In this case, it’s the music of The Follow.  Next time it’ll be something different.  But, it’ll be there.  That’s the point of SL. 

I would like to thank Powers Avon (Mat Matlack in RL), Troy Rickertsen, and Amy Rickertsen for taking the time to answer my questions and telling me all about their band and SL.  I would like also to thank Spec Belfire for putting me onto The Follow and introducing me to Powers.  As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.  

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Powers Avon

Photo No. 2: Troy Shoreland

Photo No. 3: AJ Darkwatch

1 comment:

ChrisX said...

S E V E N E V E R E N D. That is all.