You can waste away days watching recordings of bands on YouTube and other video sites. But what about attending a live, virtual concert?
The Web site Second Life has hosted a number of live concerts, attracting acts as big as Suzanne Vega and Duran Duran. It even hosts an annual music festival called Second Life Fest. People can perform on Second Life by sending a live music stream to the site. Even if you aren't a Second Life landowner, you could snag a gig from someone who runs a club or music venue. DJs can also use the platform to spin.
Of course, when performing in Second Life, people don't see you, but rather an avatar you've designed.
Case in point: the Gorillaz. The Gorillaz are the most commercially successful virtual band out there, having released two studio albums with a handful of hits, such as "Clint Eastwood." And who exactly are they? That depends.
The people making the music are a pair of dudes from England -- Damon Albarn from the real band Blur and Jamie Hewlett, creator of the "Tank Girl" comic, to be precise. In the virtual world, the Gorillaz are a platinum-selling foursome of animated characters named 2D, Murdoch Niccals, Russel Hobbs and Noodle, all drawn by Hewlett. They live in the fictional Kong Studios in Essex, England. While the characters star in the music videos, Albarn and Hewlett sometimes appear on stage for live performances.
Probably the first successful virtual band was Alvin and the Chipmunks that produced squeaky hits such as "Hula Hoop" in the 1960s. Other more recent virtual bands include U.K.-based VBirds, a group of four animated robots. But, like virtual bands of people linked through the Internet, touring a group of animated singers and musicians can be challenging, if not impossible. Perhaps for that reason no other virtual band has met the same success as the Gorillaz.
For related information about virtual bands and the music industry, roll on to the links on the next page.