Zak Claxton and the Business of Music in the Metaverse


Zak Claxton: Live in Second Life

Could major radio stations soon be playing the music of artists best known for their Second Life avatars?

If one well-known Metaverse rocker has his way, the tunes that have players lining up in the virtual world will soon find their way into a real-world album release.

Zak Claxton is a big deal in Second Life. His live music performances and audience-pleasing style have over the years grown into a true fan following. So when Claxton had to decide whether to release his first real-world album using his real name or the Claxton nomme de Metaverse, the choice was easy.

Pixels and Policy spoke with Claxton to find out why virtual music is bringing him real recognition.

Synthetic Solo Artist

Claxton is one of a growing number of avatars turning the expansive Metaverse into a stage for their passions and talents. From heavily publicized art showings to lectures on economics, real-world entrepreneurs are unleashing their creativity and expertise on the virtual frontier.

Claxton's muse is the guitar, and he has courted the possibility of turning his Second Life performances into a real-world album from an early stage. In the real world, Claxton helped produce the successful albums of other performers while engaging in his Second Life hobby.

"The mesh of reality and SL came when I made the decision to record and
release the album as Zak Claxton," Claxton told Pixels and Policy. "I've
built a nice-sized global audience that would never have been possible
as an independent singer-songwriter." Claxton is proud to say that more listeners know him as Zak Claxton than as his real-life persona.

Three years after his entry into Second Life, the virtual guitarist has a mastered CD and a scheduled a December 11, 2009 release date for his first record, "Zak Claxton." 

Taking Virtual Music Global

In 2008, Wagner James Au of New World Notes reported on blues performer Von Johin, an avatar that landed a record deal through boutique firm Reality Entertainment.

At the time, Johin was one of the biggest musical draws in Second Life. His music continues to draw huge crowds at Muse Isle, and Johin's three-week "hiatus" led to a well-attended three hour "farewell set."

Claxton follows Johin by recording solely using a Second Life name: "Everything I'm doing musically now, in both real life and in virtual
worlds and all over the web, is under the
Zak Claxton name," Claxton told us. "It's less confusing for my audience, and the songs
I'm currently performing have all been created
while I've been performing as Zak.

The release of Claxton's eponymous debut album will almost certainly have a heavy Second Life presence, and if the growing popularity of digital musicians continues apace with the growth of virtual worlds, major record labels may soon see commercial potential in artists like Claxton.

As artists like Zak Claxton and Von Johin break through the distribution barrier of real world music by building an audience in the metaverse, the observer is left to wonder how long is left until established real-world performers bring their music and production teams to Second Life for virtual performances on a large scale.

3 thoughts on “Zak Claxton and the Business of Music in the Metaverse”

  1. Many of us are using SL as a primary means of growing our fanbase, and I do think that story is going uncovered not only in mainstream press, but in music press. Who’ll be the first SL artist to get Pitchforked?

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