Von Johin’s public relations bid for ‘stardom’

Today we received a breathless press release announcing a ‘world first’. The release in full then some commentary afterward:

Virtual Reality Becomes Reality for Second Life Musician

Foresthill, CA – For the first time in history, a virtual avatar has received a real worldwide recording contract. Second Life (SL) blues musician Von Johin has been signed to an artist contract with California based Reality Entertainment, Warren Croyle, CEO of Reality Entertainment, announced today. “Never before has a virtual character been signed to a worldwide recording contract. Von Johin is legendary in the virtual community Second Life for his heart pounding live shows,” says Croyle. Second Life resident Pud Puchkina, who in real life is director of operations for the east coast division of Reality Entertainment and Second Life resident Kateyes Wingtips, the virtual representative for Reality Entertainment have been scouting the growing number of live performers in SL for several months and handling the daunting task of choosing the Avatar that fits the ethos of Reality Entertainment – a multimedia, virtual music label, book publisher and film company. Puchkina stated, “It was a hard decision, but Von Johin is the real deal, he is original and plays from his heart. Just the man and his guitar, with just these two instruments and a virtual appeal like no other, he brings crowds to their feet daily.” Reality Entertainment plans to release Von Johin’s debut album exclusively on iTunes and then to all digital download outlets worldwide.

About Reality Entertainment:


Reality Entertainment (RE) is a diverse multimedia company that specializes in music, books and film. Known for #1 musical acts such as Marcy Playground and KC and the Sunshine Band, RE also is known for #1 best selling books on Amazon.com as well as nationally successful films such as The Extraordinary Voyages of Jules Verne.

About Von Johin:

Blues musician, guitarist and vocalist, Von Johin hails from Nashville, TN and grew up playing juke joints across the Midwest. An ardent follower of the blues greats, Von Johin delivers his powerful shows every week in the clubs and dance halls of Second Life. Once you hear Von Johin you never forget him because he is a unique performer who resonates deeply with his audience providing compelling and hypnotizing performances.

About Second Life:


Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created by its Residents. Each Resident participates in a virtual environment via their “Avatar” or second life persona. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has experienced explosive growth and today is inhabited by millions of residents from around the globe. Recently, live performances have become a viral phenomenon in Second Life with real life musicians performing to audiences within the SL global community.

Ok – there are two obvious flaws with the press release. First, there’s absolutely no way of verifying that this is the first avatar to have music ‘published’ worldwide. Second, any individual can now publish their music worldwide on iTunes using services like TuneCore for the princely sum of US $9.99 per year.

Expecting hyperbole from PR people is par for course, but this is an outright case of trying to get the lead spot in a race where the race already over. Applying 20th century concepts (worldwide recording contract) to the metaverse is bordering on farcical. It’ll be fascinating to see if the mainstream media pick this release up.

All that said, no comment is made on Von Johin’s ability as a musician. Avatar music performance in Second Life is one of it’s most interesting activities and here’s to continued growth in that area.

Update: Wired and New World Notes have picked up the story with no hint of understanding that everyone can buy their own ‘world record deal’.

Update 2: Von Johin has contacted us to emphasise that he is the first avatar to sign a record deal and given there’s no contrary evidence we accept that he is indeed the first. We also accept that the record deal may involve activities that offer more than services like TuneCore do. The main point was the hyperbole in the press release and the reality of cheap digital music delivery methods available to anyone wanting to utilise them. Of course, the purpose of record deals are to increase sales, so we look forward to seeing increased sales of music by avatars in Second Life.


  1. Well i agree its hard to tell if someones first or not. Just came acros this comment at 'Rolling Stone' mag.:
    Dennis Kinsey | 9/8/2008, 1:31 pm EST

    Von Johin may be the first “blues” artist signed to a real-life record deal from Second Life, but he is not the first musician signed. We signed Bara Jonson (a Swedish singer and songwriter) back in May 2008. Bara is coming to Syracuse, NY later this month to play at Jazz Central and to record his debut CD, “Far and Away.”

    By the way, we love Johin’s work and catch his SL shows often. Best of luck to Von Johin and his new record label. I don’t think it matters who is “first.” What matters is that talented SL musicians, like Von and Bara, are also finding RL outlets for their music.

    Best regards,
    Dennis Kinsey, Head Honcho
    Hondo Mesa Records
    PO Box 35303
    Syracuse, NY 13235

  2. Von Johin’s recording contract is just the latest in a long string of interactions between Second Life and the arts and entertainment world. It will surely make the difference and going to create a new history.

  3. Months later and nothing. Von Johin is an artist alright. A pure bullshit artist. He pulled some strings to get this story out just for some publicity. There is no record deal. Johin had already recorded an album and will simply distribute through Tunecore like anyone else can. He’s probably old friends with Warren Coyle and asked his friend to pretend it was a real deal.

  4. interesting

  5. live shows in the virtual community? how does avatar music performance in second life works? is it like a live video stream thing where users perform in front of their web camera or do they use their avatars to “perform”?

    it seems pretty ridiculous if avatars are getting record deals when real-life wannabe musicians are not.

  6. live shows in the virtual community? how does avatar music performance in second life works? is it like a live video stream thing where users perform in front of their web camera or do they use their avatars to “perform”?

    it seems pretty ridiculous if avatars are getting record deals when real-life wannabe musicians are not.

  7. nice post

  8. nice post


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