Clubs Breaking The Status Quo
By Cobra Momilj
The clubbing industry is the most popular and patronized industry in all of Second Life (SL). From the first time you realize you can dance as an avatar while listening to the music you love – you are hooked. Oldie or newbie resident, it does not matter because the one constant on the GRID is that you have been somewhere with someone at a club. One would even think that owning such an important part of our SL experience would be highly lucrative and much appreciated. Yet, the opposite has proven true for club owner after club owner over the years.
Clubs generally use the popular operating model of relying on tips from visitors and leasing wall space for personal services, yet the operation of a club tends to cost quite a bit more than what they make. As with anything where operating expenses far exceed revenue, most clubs simply “bite the dust.” Fortunately, as in all industries, there are those in clubbing that not only survive they thrive in times of feast or famine.
In this interview we spoke to the owners of two such clubs, both of which participate in the Clubbing Connection Network (CCN). Club Hard Tails and Dirty ‘Lil Secrets are two venues that have managed to grow faithful followings, making them more of the exceptions to how things go with clubs, than the rule.
DJ Roxannesmith (Roxy), owner of Club Hard Tails; with SunshineIam (Shine) and DJ Carissa Bluemood (Cari) owners of Dirty ‘Lil Secrets (DLS); met with Nu Vibez Magazine (NVM) to share some of their experiences, knowledge and opinions on this great industry in SL. What these amazing ladies had to say will get an “amen” from some and a “go to hell” from others, but one thing’s for sure – you will know why these two venues are successful and long-lasting!
NVM: Ladies welcome to Nu Vibez Magazine and thank you allowing us to share your stories.
CARI: Thank you so much for having us!
ROXY: My pleasure.
SHINE: The pleasure is ours.
NVM: Roxy why do you think the first thing that blows new arrivals away are the clubs in SL?
ROXY: I’d say it’s the attention to detail of a club that’s the same as one in real life (RL). There’s a Live DJ and they can have fun dancing, they get greeted, listen to great music, and chat with people having fun in here from all over the world.
NVM: Shine do you recall what you thought when you were introduced to SL Clubbing?
SHINE: Since the day I started, I went every day to the first club I was ever in. I thought the feel of ‘hominess’ was the main thing I liked but there were some things I would have done differently and that the potential was there for so much more.
NVM: Cari what’s different about clubs now than when you first arrived or have they actually stayed the same with little or no change at all?
CARI: I think that clubs are evolving and becoming better, beyond the obvious with technology changing and the capabilities of doing more in SL. I have been in world for about 5 years so I have seen a lot of different clubs come and go. There are few that have survived but those that have hung in there have their own “it” factor that makes them so special and unique. We hope our “it” factor proves to be successful with the other legends.
NVM: Roxy, because Nu Vibez works closely with the Clubbing Connection Network, we see a lot of clubs open and close very quickly. Is that because offering a great club experience for people is more than rezzing a cool build and playing music?
ROXY: Oh yes you have to work hard at it, have great music for one, pay attention to what they like, have good PR work, lots of chat to make them feel at home etc., and also have great staff, and keep costs to minimum.
NVM: Cari, what are some things clubs are doing wrong that causes people to come a few times but not come back?
CARI: I hate when I land somewhere and no one speaks. That will keep me from going back to a place fast. We like to be very friendly and greet every single person that enters our club. We want to make them feel at home.
NVM: Shine, do you feel like if clubs would try more things to distinguish themselves instead of copying the way it’s always done, that they would get repeat or even better traffic?
SHINE: Like I stated before the potential is there for so much more. A majority of clubs are like, “that DJ is mine,” “that Host is mine,” and “those patrons are mine;” instead of sharing and networking with each other. Also making sure you are paying attention to everyone personally and not through gestures. Make them feel they belong and always have friends there.
NVM: Let me follow-up on that more with you Shine by asking how did you guys know that allowing voice on for patron interaction during some events would work so well for you guys, when the rule for most clubs has been no voice activity to compete with the music?
SHINE: I personal hate text, and most people can multi-task. You listen to the radio and drive; you can do your work with YouTube playing in the background; so therefore you can talk and listen to the DJ and live singers. We usually ask who wants in the call and we will have a big group call going while still listening to the singer. It is a voice sim – if you don’t like it you can mute voice or go elsewhere. It works for us, but again it is all about making someone feel as if they belong.
NVM: Roxy by contrast Hard Tails is “no VIP voicing” during the shows and that works really well for your crowds enjoying you and the music. Why do you think both of these approaches can have success instead of one successful approach for all?
ROXY: Some people like to converse a lot, but in a club, it’s a distraction. Success with Voice depends on the crowd and the DJ. All people are different and from different countries in here, so you have a diverse society. You’ll have some who just come for voice, and some for the music, but if you combine them, it may not work, as you cannot please both at same time. I think you have to specialize in VOICE or MUSIC/CHAT. I wouldn’t combine the two.
NVM: This next question is for you all. Why is lag the last thing club owners factor into having a successful venue when it’s probably one of the most important for repeat and new traffic?
ROXY: Lag is important to me. You can have all the bells and whistles in the club and make it look amazing, but you’ll get no VIPs – or you can have a basic less-lag club, and you’ll get more VIPs. Lots of clubs make that mistake.
CARI: You want to make your club as inviting as possible. You want to make it seem like you are really out in the Real world at a club with the atmosphere and such. But in all honestly lag should be the first thing on every club owners mind. If your patrons are walking in molasses and crashing left and right well that’s just no fun now is it?
SHINE: It was always a main priority with us. That is why we put the club at the highest point on the sim where there would be less lag, then watched our script use. We don’t ask people to change their avie to run less scripts like some clubs, instead we adjust our stuff to accommodate them.
NVM: You, ladies, are not just owners; you are also entertainers and you all know first hand that clubbers do not really feel a need to show that “Linden Love” while expecting to be really entertained. Why is clubbing one of the only SL industries where the public expects you all to work for free (or peanuts), yet still bring them awesome events?
SHINE: I think it is because people figure that the place will still be there whether they tip or not, people don’t realize the cost is not just behind the tier, but to pay the singers to make sure your staff is tipped well and the gifts, the contests, the equipment to always offer new things I think they just need a peek at the real cost and the time and effort that we put in to making sure they have somewhere to hangout that they like.
CARI: I’m not really sure why. I was always a good tipper whenever we would go out, no matter where it was and that was even before we opened our own place. Now that I do know the cost in running a place, I’m an even better tipper. The tier, DJ stream, and sploders – it’s not free. I guess they figure it’s not like a RL club where they have to pay for drinks so they really don’t think about it too much.
ROXY: If the crowd appreciates the music, they will tip. But some people expect to be entertained on this game for free, and we are not selling products, we are selling a service. I believe they think clubs run on fresh air :).
NVM: It has been suggested by the CCN groups that by showing clubs like yours to outside companies, that a new revenue stream can be created for club owners who bring their “A-game.” How would you feel about becoming the poster kids, as CCN Media Partners, for other clubs and first-life companies to check out?
ROXY: Would love it! We can bring lots revenue for Real-life businesses. It’s a whole new arena of potential customers! And it brings together people WORLDWIDE. So it would only get bigger if they did that :). I’d like to set the bar for other clubs and other potential customers for RL investment.
SHINE: This is a social network and I think people are missing that the main word is NETWORK. Neither involved party could be hindered by bringing SL and RL together and yet it can be a frontier of an even better SL experience. Follow through with the times – how much shopping and advertising is going on via the Net? Bringing it in-world is the only step that needs to be pushing forward and we are so ready to be a main factor in that change.
CARI: I think that would be AMAZING! The joining of DLS to CCN has been nothing but a positive experience for us – a huge step forward in the networking process. Since day one, we have always looked outside of the box in building our business and whoever CCN wants us to work with would be a positive and well looked forward to adventure.
NVM: It has also been suggested that by working together as a network versus clubs competing against one another, that more can be accomplished when there are emergency staffing needs, cross-promotions and more. How do you feel is the best way to go about implementing something like this?
SHINE: Like above it can’t be all mine, mine, mine. Let’s make it simple go back to what we learned in Kindergarten — it’s all about sharing. We network so much within our half sim I think that has such a positive role in our success. We share so much with others, and Scorp can attest to that. Every new idea needs to be shared so all can give their point-of-view to try and think of all the possibilities that can make it fail and then adjust it to get the perfect outcome.
CARI: Well I believe that CCN has a great start at this concept – bringing clubs together to help work with each other. I think to keep moving forward with how it’s going and getting more clubs involved is definitely moving in the right direction!
ROXY: Cross-staffing doesn’t work. Each club works hard to get their VIPs and spends lots of cash. They are maybe not willing to share. It would have to be very well coordinated, and with so many time zones it’s impossible. My experience is that it will not work, but you never know.
NVM: Roxy, some have called you queen of the Mash-ups and they love how often you add new material to your set list. How important is it to take time and really put together an entertaining and fresh set for your crowds?
ROXY: Oh very important. I spend three hours a day making fresh music. People can get bored easily and can get normal songs at every club or on the radio! They tend to like variety. I’ve had it said that they come ‘cause I surprise them with my mixes.
NVM: Cari, we can’t mention mash-ups and not talk about how you also are known for having great ones in your set and playing very sexy fun music. What percentage of a clubs’ success do you think depends on great music and great on-mic talk with the crowds?
CARI: I don’t know that I can put a percentage on that to be honest. It is all the staff that helps to make the guests feel welcome. And I have heard other DJ’s say they aren’t a jukebox, but honestly playing crappy music that makes people listen to YouTube instead of your stream during a set, makes no sense to me. I want my crowd to be happy and loving what they are hearing. And I do have a wide taste in music so I enjoy playing different things, even if they don’t fit in with the theme at the time.
NVM: Speaking of sexy; Shine, as a hostess as well as an owner, how important is it to keep a playful sexy vibe going between the crowd and the club staff since we all know sex sells?
SHINE: I have always been known to make sexual innuendos out of anything and I love people with a sense of humor or humour for our Europeans friends [lol]. I come to SL to laugh and we make sure that our staff are nice looking avies and are playful in their personalities, making sure that people leave here with a smile and a laugh to look back on.
NVM: Last question. What can we expect from your clubs specifically in 2014 and clubbing in general?
SHINE: I can’t speak for the rest of the clubbing scene but for Dirty ‘Lil Secret we will be adding more to the club having karaoke, wet t-shirt contests, more charity work, and more of SL’s best builders and designers bringing our guests some of the nicest things to have. Cum make our Dirty ‘Lil Secret yours.
ROXY: New mash-ups, more cash up for grabs, and maybe extending to a larger place! If this works, clubs in here will explode and that means more explosions of customers for the investors :).
CARI: Bigger and better! We have amazing sponsors and AMAZING VIPs that keep us going. I’d like to see more events for RL benefits. We raised over $100 USD for breast cancer awareness this year, and probably about that much or more for Relay for Life. It’s on a small scale here in SL but every bit counts!
NVM: Again thanks for squeezing us into your busy schedules and you will defiantly find us partying at both of your hot spots.
CARI: Thank you! We look forward to seeing everyone at Dirty ‘Lil Secret!!
ROXY: My pleasure and TY so much! Nice meeting you 🙂 look forward to seeing you at my club.
SHINE: Again the pleasure was ours, and what better way to share and network then through such a great magazine as yours.