Six years ago, Jon "Neverdie" Jacobs got his girlfriend to play Project Entropia with him and got her totally hooked. He wrote a song for her entitled "Gamer Chick" and asked MindArk if they would put it on the juke boxes found in game for other players to listen to.
"What I was hoping for was to make some money out of it," said Jon. "They didn't have the structure to do that at the time, but put it in the game anyway. That sort of made my avatar Neverdie rather famous as the song went viral and everyone was playing it in game and I eventually made a music video out of it and put it on Youtube."
Jon went on to be very successful as a virtual entrepreneur, purchasing an asteroid in Entropia Universe as it was called by then, naming it Club Neverdie. Apart from the hunting domes which really made the money for its upkeep, Jon created a night club so he could do parties and events. But what he could not do was to bring in actual artists and bands in to play there. When MindArk announced they would open up their Universe to investors in 2007, Jon jumped on the chance, moving to Los Angeles, and with some VC funds, opened Neverdie Studios.
"It was a long, tough road, both raising the capital and trying to work with record labels and artists," said Jon, "but the excitement and potential of a new medium for music was too good to let go by."
Each time the recording industry embraces a new media, such as tape, CDs, even DvDs and iTunes, there is resurgence, a new renaissance in music and artists stretch further and further to deliver music and entertainment. Jon believes that getting music to live and breathe in the virtual world known as MMO will breathe fresh air into the music industry.
"Artists will be able to deliver new, fresh and immediate content to a massive audience," said Jon, Instead of trying to drive traffic to their own websites or other social sites, artists can find a ready audience as well as the tools for branding in a virtual world which can carry over to the real world and physical goods.
The Entropia platform and CryEngine2 gave Jon top of the line game development tools to attract artists and Planet ROCKtropia launches with hit singer/song writer/ producer Kevin Rudolf (Let it Rock / Welcome to the World) and Lemmy of Motorhead on board. He's also talking with several other prominent artists including a well known rapper which he hopes to bring on board in the summer.
Why ROCKtropia in the Entropia Univers? I wanted to know. Why not create the same in say... Second Life? Jon feels though that virtual worlds lack excitement without the gaming component and diversity not only attracts more people to MMOs but promotes creativity as well.
"Lemmy has his own castle," Jon enthused, "and for someone who has never played a game or owned a computer until now, he's totally into it. He designs all his own monsters!"
Appropriately named Lemmy's Castle which also houses Motorhead Stadium, Lemmy sketches the monsters he wants inhabiting his castle and the artists at Neverdie Studios bring them to life. According to Jon, there are massive ghouls and golems, twisted giant bats and horned beasts.
"Lemmy has a great imagination and a dark, funny sense humor, and you will see that sense of humor throughout his Castle."
Kevin Rudolf on the other hand, has his own brand in the real world, and in ROCKtropia, has created a virtual brand in a zombie infested parallel pixel world of ZOMhattan. Based on the real city of Manhattan, ZOMhattan is the urban capital of ROCKtropia where his B.A.M.F studios reside. Gamers will be able to listen to Kevin's latest music there.
Eventually, artists will be able to rent or own apartments and manage their own studios and retail outlets in ROCKtropia, but for now, Jon's City of Dreams will stream music and artists can submit their music to be played on the radio station. Players will also be able to collect "Virtual Vinyl" or their own in-game copies of music which they could play on their own jukeboxes in their apartments. This could eventually be exchanged for music files that could be downloaded onto PCs and iPods.
For all the aspiring artists out there; you know who you are. The ones practicing with their buddies in their parents' garages and basements. Cut out early from work on a Friday so you can drive to a gig, all four in mom's old station wagon, humping your own equipment, down into the basement dive, getting enough money for the gig to maybe cover gas - if you're lucky. This new internet medium and opportunity for delivering music is very exciting indeed. Imagine being able to say, "Yeah, my store is just down the street from Kevin Rudolf's and my song has been chosen as the opening theme in next Saturday's Monster Mash at Motorhead Stadium."
For the gamers, how cool is it to be able to hunt zombies and monsters, do a raid or two, and then hop over to the city to sell to vendors, craft, and relax in a night club of your choice listening to the latest music or streaming live band performance?