Much has been said about Live Nation's re-branding of concert venues across the country, but this latest news is sure to rankle those left who still believe in the purity of music and the importance of real, live, working musicians connecting directly with fans: Nestea is taking over the music venue Junkyard Blues and renaming it "NESTEA Live Music Stage at Junkyard Blues."
Oh, wait. No. This is a "virtual" concert venue, where real bands play animated shows for animated people. Nestea has erected signage in the 3-D rendered blues club that reflects the packaging design for their new Green Tea Citrus and Diet Green Tea Citrus drinks, and they'll be offering concertgoers free virtual samples and virtual t-shirts. Finally, the Coca-Cola brand's sponsorship will also help compensate artists who play there, although no figures were available on how much money they'll receive or how many will be playing there through the end of the year, the length of time Nestea has committed to the sponsorship.
Kudos to Nestea for such a cheap media buy and an original music sponsorship, but ... umm... why? According to Linden Labs, there were about 1.2 million residents logged into Second Life in the past two months, which, despite a SL subscriber count of 14 million trumpeted in the release for the sponsorship, is a far more accurate -- and much smaller -- calculation of how many people continue to actively use the service today.
Divide those million users between all of the territory (1,384 square meters) and consider that sex is the most popular activity there, and how much reach does that give Nestea in a virtual music club?
"The sponsorship of Junkyard Blues allows us to reach a young demographic, and, as you know, we kind of own the venue," he said. "We've got good prominence there, and frankly, it's very economical."
According to Mr. Crockett and Linden Labs, Junkyard Blues is the most popular music venue in the virtual world. And there does appear to be a fair deal of interest in live music among SL users. This August, Nashville blues musician Von Johin landed a traditional record deal with Reality Entertainment, home of Marcy Playground and KC and the Sunshine Band. Pop singer Jeff Krantz launched a First Life career after making it big in Second Life -- and making some cash playing virtual corporate gigs. And Linden's new CEO, Mark Kingdon, is an experienced ad exec who's said one of his top goals is to improve the consumer experience of live music on the service.
And hell, Journey has their own slice of pixellized heaven in Second Life.
Still, while opportunities for brand experiences in SL are expansive, today it's little more than a buzz strategy for marketers. To warrant future investments, Mr. Kingdon's going to need to come up with some buzz of his own sooner or later.