Biglife Music 

PLUG IN, JAM OUT: IS THIS THE NEXT ROCK BAND?

Imagine a game that lets you plug in a real instrument — a la the most recent version of Rock Band — and jam out in virtual community like Second Life. If that sounds intriguing, you'll probably want to check out BIGLIFE MUSIC, one of the three finalists in Rethink Music's call for new business models for the music industry. With the Boston-based BigLife Labs' online-gaming service, you'd be able to start your own club, attend shows, or perform in a virtual club with a backup band. How? As with all three finalists, the fine details are under wraps until the conference. (Check thePhoenix.com/rethink for live updates.) But BigLife Labs claims their game will work with any digital music interface, so presumably you'll be able to use anything you can run through a MIDI box and kick out the jams.

Co-founder Eliot Hunt hopes to open a sweet spot between the multi-billion dollar social-gaming and music-gaming industries. "In a nutshell, BigLife Music is designed to replicate — not simulate — the feeling of playing with a real band, on a real stage in front of a real audience," says Hunt. YouTube is overflowing with musicians doing covers of their favorite songs. Social gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry, as is music gaming. BigLife Music might be the missing link.

Some of the big pieces are still in development. The user interface is still under development, and currently resembles what Hunt describes as an "updated YouTube page." Hunt says that while guitar has been the initial focus for instruments, early versions of BigLife Music will soon expand to include bass, keyboard, and vocals. "Thanks to successful games like Guitar Hero, folks are used to the idea of guitars being paired with gaming," says Hunt. "From a business perspective it just makes sense."

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