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What is a virtual band?

Virtual Band Performances

2D, Murdoc Niccals, Russel Hobbs and Noodle of the virtual band Gorillaz perform in 2006 Brit Awards.
2D, Murdoc Niccals, Russel Hobbs and Noodle of the virtual band Gorillaz perform in 2006 Brit Awards.
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

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 below.

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More Great Links


  • Dahlen, Chris. "Get that out of your mouth #35." Pitchfork. May 18, 2007. (June 20, 2008) get-that-out-of-your-mouth-35
  • Fides, Jonathan. "BBC starts to rock the online world." BBC. May 12, 2006. (June 20, 2008)
  • Harris, Paul. "Virtual girl band aim to follow Gorillaz up charts." The Observer. Feb. 10, 2002. (June 24, 2008)
  • Market Wire. "Gorillaz 'Demon Days' Album Makes Top 10 U.S. Chart Debut." June 2005. (June 20, 2008)
  • Pradhan, Musgrove, Mike. "In the Band but Out of State." The Washington Post. July 21, 2007. (June 20, 2008) 07/21/AR2007072100099.html?sub=new
  • Priyanka. "Create Virtual Bands with" Tech2. March 21, 2007. (June 20, 2008)
  • Redmann, William Gibbens; Glueckman, Alan Jay; Kantor, Gail Susan. "Method and Apparatus for Remote Real Time Collaborative Music Performance." United States 6,653,545. Nov. 25, 2003. (June 20, 2008) glueckman+ejamming
  • Sarno, David. "Need a drummer? No problem." Los Angeles Times. Aug. 19, 2007. (June 20, 2008) webscout19aug19,1,5973343.story
  • Smith, Michael. "Unmaking the Band." ABC News. Oct. 9, 2007. (June 20, 2008) page=1