Pictures from the Monstercat Compound Pre-Party in Sansar

Here are some pictures I took of the live deejay performances at the Monstercat Compound Pre-Party in Sansar!

Coming up next is the Tailgate Party, which is free for everybody to attend, and runs from 2:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time/Sansar Time! See you there!

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Monstercat Compound Pre-Party and Tailgate Party in Sansar on Saturday, August 24th: You Could Win an Oculus Rift VR Headset!

The Monstercat series of events in Sansar has proven to be extremely popular. In fact, the Monstercat launch concert on July 12th brought over a thousand people into Sansar, according to an interview with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg by Forbes magazine. Ebbe is quoted as saying:

Tens of thousands of people watched the concert across Twitch, Mixer, and Huya, and over a thousand people around the world attended the event in Sansar – across 6 continents, 65 countries, and 675 cities.  Fans feel more connected and immersed in the music they love, while artists, in turn, effectively reach more people and places in a single day than they’d reach on a real-life tour.

Tomorrow, Saturday August 24th at 12 noon Pacific Time/Sansar Time, there will be a Monstercat Compound Pre-Party, featuring live virtual sets from five different deejays. The Pre-Party will be followed by a Virtual Tailgate Party starting at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time/Sansar Time! This is an actual event taking place in Vancouver, but you don’t have to jump on a plane to take part—you can do it all in Sansar!

Here’s a link to the Pre-Party event on the Sansar Events page. You can choose to attend this event for free, or if you wish you can purchase a VIP ticket. VIP tickets cost only US$4.99 for this event, and each VIP ticket gives you exclusive merchandise for your avatar, plus access to a special VIP area and meet and greets with the performers.

Here’s a link to the Tailgate Party event. Admission is free for everybody!

And here’s the best part! If you go to *EITHER* the Pre-Party (by buying a free or a VIP ticket from the Sansar website) *OR* the Tailgate Party (by buying a free ticket from the Sansar website), *OR BOTH*, you are automatically entered to win an Oculus Rift VR headset! I have confirmed that this is the original Oculus Rift headset model, not the newer Oculus Rift S.

Here’s a 30-second promotional video of the upcoming event:

See you there!

Editorial: Will Social VR Companies Have to Turn to Influencers to Promote Their Products?

Photo by Diggity Marketing on Unsplash

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Recently, I have become fascinated by a particular kind of celebrity: the YouTube influencer. Yesterday, I watched a video by the successful YouTuber and real estate agent Graham Stephan, who is currently pulling in US$100,000 per month from his YouTube channel alone:

These are people who have been able to attract significant numbers of subscribers to their YouTube video content, and earn hundreds of thousands—even millions—of dollars a year with advertising and endorsement deals. For example, the 28-year-old Swedish YouTuber Felix Kjellberg (a.k.a PewDiePie) earned US$15.5 million last year, according to Forbes.

Now, you might remember that PewDiePie was one of the YouTubers who devoted coverage to the social VR platform VRChat in late 2017 and early 2018, which led to a surge in the number of concurrent users (here is a chart from Steam showing the number of concurrent users of VRChat over time, with an arrow pointing to that surge):

Now, I’m pretty sure that PewDiePie did not sign an endorsement deal with VRChat; he probably just stumbled across it and thought it was entertaining enough to share with his audience of 98.6 million viewers. VRChat was probably just as surprised as everybody else by this sudden spike in users. I remember how they struggled to keep their servers running smoothly to deal with this unexpected onslaught over the Christmas holidays in 2017, and they were eventually forced to implement a detailed safety and trust system to cope with the resulting tidal wave of harassment and griefing on the platform. (Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!)

But obviously, PewDiePie and his fellow livestreamers on Twitch and YouTube were a powerful, free promotional tool for VRChat. (The Ugandan Knuckles meme helped a lot, too, by becoming a self-perpetuating cycle that helped popularize VRChat.) While the platform peaked at 28,500 simultaneous users, it has since settled down to around 6,000 concurrent users in recent months, which still makes it the most popular social VR platform so far.

It’s no secret that most social VR platforms are struggling to attract users. According to a statement made by Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg to Forbes about the Monstercat 8th anniversary concert event in Sansar:

Monstercat: Call of the Wild Experience is a VR space where the music label will host artist meet and greets, giveaways, and more. Altberg didn’t give me exact numbers but over a thousand people watched the show in VR via Sansar.

“Tens of thousands of people watched the concert across Twitch, Mixer, and Huya, and over a thousand people around the world attended the event in Sansar – across 6 continents, 65 countries, and 675 cities.  Fans feel more connected and immersed in the music they love, while artists, in turn, effectively reach more people and places in a single day than they’d reach on a real-life tour. “

Now, while I am slightly suspicious at that “675 cities” figure (I always knew you could determine country by IP address, but I wasn’t aware you could pinpoint IP addresses down to the city level), the fact remains that 1,000 users in one day is seen as a major success for Sansar. But compare this with the estimated 600,000 regular users for Second Life. And compare this with the estimated 7,500 users of the adult virtual world 3DX Chat, which, as one commenter noted (here and here):

… 3DXChat. It started as just a sex sim. Then they added building. Then users started building and visiting each others places, instead of paying for sex like they were supposed to.

It’s more successful than High Fidelity, Sansar, and Sinespace put together. About 7,500 paying users.

So, although 1,000 users in one day for one event in Sansar is a significant achievement, it still doesn’t take the platform to the next level, where Linden Lab can really start making money off it.

Which leads to my question: will Linden Lab and other social VR companies eventually have to pay YouTubers and other influencers to promote their platforms to a wider audience and attract more attention? The experience of VRChat was an instructive lesson on the advertising power of influencers like PewDiePie.

Linden Lab has already taken some tentative steps in this direction already, with links to Twitch livestreamers like UmiNoKaiju (which, as far as I know, went nowhere). It would appear that companies would get more of a bang for their buck if they entered into partnerships with people with much bigger followings on Twitch and YouTube. And frankly, that is not cheap. Viral Nation, one of the top influencer marketing agencies, which represents hundreds of successful influencers using Instagram, Vine, YouTube, and Snapchat, is only interested in customers who have a advertising budget in the range of $10,000 to $10,000,000.

Linden Lab and other social VR companies may decide that slower, organic growth is best. However, the pressure to attract a lot of users more quickly using high-profile influencers must be sorely tempting. Will Linden Lab, High Fidelity, Sinespace, and other social VR platforms eventually bite the bullet and sign deals with popular influencers? Only time will tell.

UPDATE Aug. 16th: I have been told that it is, indeed, possible to identify cities by IP address, which I did not know before!

Linden Lab Partners with Music Label Monstercat to Bring Weekly Live Music Events into Sansar

VentureBeat reports that Linden Lab has partnered with Monstercat to bring weekly live music events into Sansar:

The Monstercat: Call of the Wild Experience is a collaboration that the companies hope will change live concerts and gaming. The virtual world offers fans a larger-than-life venue for live events and entertainment — from concerts to meet-and-greets to exclusive fan quests and giveaways — while also allowing artists to reach a global audience with a single performance.

With Sansar, Monstercat can once again bring music directly to the people — letting anyone, anywhere feel like they have a front row seat to live shows, and making the Monstercat universe into something that fans can see, touch, and explore for themselves.

“We’re offering our fans something truly unique in the Monstercat: Call of the Wild Experience: their own space to meet, connect and share creative ideas with each other,” said Dan Scarcelli, head of programming at Monstercat. “Social VR has the power to transform how communities gather online, and we’re thrilled to be leading the charge with Sansar.”

Monstercat is a Canadian independent electronic dance music record label based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Founded in 2011 by Mike Darlington and Ari Paunonen, the label releases new music four times a week. The label is perhaps best known for the 2016 release of the song Alone by the American DJ Marshmello, which reached Platinum status in the United States and Canada in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Monstercat is celebrating its 8th anniversary with a party in Sansar on July 12th:

You are officially invited to celebrate with the Monstercat crew, artists, and other fans around the world in our VR experience Friday, July 12th! Get ready for the ultimate immersive experience by visiting Sansar now and hanging out in our Monstercat Lobby. Build your character, work on your dance moves, and maybe even discover some hidden clues and teasers.

From all the question marks on this poster, it would appear that Monstercat is not going to reveal the names of some of their many musical artists performing on July 12th until the day of the event itself!

With thanks to Tony (SkarredGhost) of The Ghost Howls blog for the heads up!