Keiko Takamura’s Dreams of Rock Stardom

Keiko Takamura (2006 MTV video profile here) is a musician who performs in Second Life, one of the burgeoning community who do.

I’ve followed her progress over the years and I certainly admire her desire to succeed, which when combined with her songwriting and performance abilities, put her in a good position to do so.

She’s of course not alone in that regard, there are plenty of talented Second Life musicians hoping to make an impact more widely, and we’ve covered a small number of them over the past four years.

Which is why I was interested in a message Keiko sent out in the past week, via Twitter and her blog, to her fans, friends and fellow musicians:

My dear musician friends,

My band (The Shebangs) and I have been rocking out in meatspace for a good while now, and we’re ready to record. The studio I have my eye on has engineers who have worked with names like Elvis Costello, Teagan and Sara, CAKE, The Decemberists, Modest Mouse, etc… but it’s PROHIBITIVELY expensive.

That’s why I’m planning a HELP KEIKO FINALLY RECORD tour from 4/18-4/23.

I’m asking you, my musician friends, to donate an hour (or even half-hour) of your time to help me raise donations for this project. Why should you bother? Well, I know you have heard the whole song-and-dance of “exposure”, but I have a 1,000+ Twitter following, 500 people in my SL group, and if this thing is successful they’ll probably write this up on New World Notes (I live next to Hamlet Au IRL!). Also, my True Life episode on MTV just re-aired, and a slew of new SL residents just joined and are waiting to see what “virtual live concerts” are.

Also, you’ll be helping me out a lot. 🙂 My dream of being a rockstar feels like it’s inching closer, and a polished, professional, radio-ready recording of my music will put me that much closer.

If you’re interested, please EMAIL ME – TakamuraKeiko at gmail
and tell me which day/time you want to play (time is totally up to you), and send me your music website/Myspace. I’ll get back to you about a venue.

Thank you so much for being wonderful friends and awesome musicians,


After reading the message, I contacted Keiko via email to ask a few questions, which are replicated in full below:

TMJ: How’s the response to date been to your call for musicians to donate time to raise money for your recording dream?

KT: It’s been mostly good! Within the day I posted my idea for a “Help Keiko Record Tour”, I got most of the week booked up with both good friends and musicians I’ve never heard/met before.

TMJ: Have you had any negative reaction to your call for people to donate time to raise money for you personally?

KT: Yes, but just one person.

TMJ: More specifically, have you had any negative feedback from fellow SL musicians, who may hold the same ambitions but haven’t asked the community to raise the funds for them?

KT: Yes.

TMJ: You mention the likelihood of coverage in New World Notes due to living close by Hamlet Au -was Hamlet aware you were going to make that statement?

KT: No, but he knows now! 🙂

TMJ: If the funds are raised successfully to allow you to record, and the results earns profit for you, do you propose to enter a profit-sharing or pay-back arrangement for those who helped out with the benefit?

KT: Short answer: Yes! Long answer: I’ve been a live musician in SL since 2006, and I’ve played for COUNTLESS benefits from Relay for Life, Toys For Tots, Make a Wish Foundation, etc. I’ve also donated my time for the benefit of other musicians who needed help. Some needed help because they had serious medical bills. Others needed help because they needed tour money. In any case, I was there. And now I’m asking for help. If any musician is willing to donate an hour of their time in order for me to make a 5-song EP, I would be more than happy to help them out in return in the future. And more immediately, I hope to give their music some good publicity in any way I can.

TMJ: What safeguards will you have in place to demonstrate the amount of money raised and how it is spent by you?

KT: I don’t have anything automatic set up, but if anyone wants to email me personally and ask, they are welcome to. Also, I intend to make each donation of $5 or more a “presale” for a digital copy. Meaning, if you chip in $5 (or l1400 and give me a notecard with your email address) I’ll send a digital copy of the EP when it’s done!

Let me clear some other things up, just in case:

My “tour” is going to be from the 17th to the 24th – 8 days. I’m going to play a show in SL every single day, on top of my RL work and RL band practices. I am setting up schedules with several musicians. I am coordinating with venues. I am creating promotional graphics/notecards. I am reaching out to others who have blogs, podcasts, large Twitter followings, etc. to make the “exposure” part of this deal worthwhile for the musicians who are kind enough to donate their time. It’s not like I’m going to sit back and collect tips while the musicians work and I do nothing. I’m going to work hard, play hard, every single day of that tour — and if my friends want to be a part of this and make it into an awesome event, that’s even better! I really, truly appreciate all the support I’ve gotten from my musician friends who are willing to help me out. It’s because of them that the live music community is as strong as it is today. I have absolutely no intention of making this a one-sided deal, solely for myself. I know it’s a lot to ask.

Over to you: is Keiko being creative, entrepreneurial, mercenary or all of the above? There’s certainly plenty of uncharted territory in regard to creative projects in virtual worlds, and undertakings like Keiko’s are certainly exploring some of that territory.

(Picture courtesy of Keiko Takamura’s 2008 Sugar Pill video)


  1. paisleybeebe says

    Good on her! takes a lot of courage to put your hand out and ask for help, and some people don't like it when you do. Mercenary and independent musician can't really be put in the same sentence…

    I read of a musician a few years back very well known, but short of a paying record deal doing something similar, but she asked for small donations, and in return those that paid a little got a free CD at the end of it, their names in the credits on the album, plus the opportunity to see the entire recording project on webcam, and got to make suggestions and be part of the process.

    Last week I posted a blog (deleted now) asking for help from the community for my production company….not money…but ideas. Ideas for how to get sponsorship how to gain audience, or offers of sponsorship and I was prepared to pay for it, if I thought it was necessary. For me it was also a big risk…to admit I needed the help in the first company will literally go out of business end of this year If I cant make the advertising income support my staff wages and my own wages. And if I don't ask now, by the end of the year it will be too late. The response Ive had was overwhelmingly positive…to me. Anyone that thought I was a loser or asking too much didn't contact me. But I got a lot of ideas I hadn't thought of, and some offers of help in different ways. I'm still following some of them up.

    Like Keiko ONE person criticized my actions, but this I believe this was based less on my methods but based on a prior disagreement this person had with someone connected with my company. So I don't place much importance in it, this person also didn't complain directly to me, they went public in Plurk with a lot of vitriol and unfounded hurtful personal attacks. But you know what? if you can't take the heat and all that…

    Keiko is right she has given a lot of her time to play for charities as I have, and she is asking for such a little thing really. I think the perception of the person asking for help, their history, and their reputation and what they have brought to the community is all taken into consideration with these things, so I don't expect some johnny-come-lately musician with no history in the SL community or community ties to be able to successfully ask for help especially financial help. But I think Keiko and myself have paid our dues. The people who know me, also know what sort of person I am and what I do contribute and they do also with Keiko. I wish her all the luck in the world with her venture. Paisley Beebe

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