Hey You Guys,

I just received the following press release:

Duran Duran create Virtual Universe  inside 'Second Life' Online World

 World's first artists to stage 'in-world' live concerts; fans to join band avatars on Duran Duran luxury island

British rock stars, Duran Duran, will make Internet history once again with the creation of their own, 'virtual universe' inside the leading online virtual world, Second Life.

"Although details are yet to be unveiled, the five original band members [Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes] announced today that they have commissioned their own custom-designed avatars who will live out a genuine 'second life' on a fantasy, luxury island, with 'in-world' concerts and media appearances taking place alongside the band's media, public and live engagements in the real world.

Currently in the middle of recording their next album, keyboardist Nick Rhodes said of the project: "Second Life has brought a third dimension to the internet; it is the new frontier where dreams have become reality. Whatever you can imagine is now possible. When the video revolution began we instantly saw the opportunity to experiment and explore a new form of expression to enhance the musical experience. Second Life is the future right now, offering endless possibilities for artists. Our community will be able to help develop the island into a fully functional, futuristic utopia, where you can never be quite sure what to expect. All visitors are welcome! Duran Duran are thrilled to be the first band to become citizens of Second Life and are rehearsing now for our first concert there in the coming months. I think I can safely say that it will be filled with surprises".

Duran Duran will become the first major, band in the world to have a virtual world presence; and the group will make history in a few weeks with the first, live, concert by a pop avatar band performed by the group's actual members.

The band has appointed London virtual world designers Rivers Run Red to create the five Duran Duran avatars and the band's bespoke universe. Creative Director Justin Bovington said: 'This heralds a new era in how branded content is being developed. For the first time a major international band is using a virtual world as a branded, immersive experience. We're working directly with the band members to ensure fans get the ultimate Duran Duran experience'.

The project, which launches officially later this month, is the centre-piece of a new online strategy for the band designed by the London-based 3003 Group, Duran Duran's strategic marketing agency, which will also include a one-stop, global mobile downloads shop and a new, state-of-the-art band website, in the run-up to the release of their upcoming band's new Epic Records album in the New Year.

"No artist has ever done anything like this before" said 3003 Group President Peter Wells-Thorpe. "The five members of Duran Duran will actually live a second life 'in-world', controlling their own avatars live and doing things ordinary pop stars can only dream about in the real world. We're asking each of the G8 embassies in London if they will officially recognise the band's new dual nationality and second passports and are hopeful of a positive outcome, at least from the UK, USA and Japan, in the next few weeks".

The Duran Duran virtual world project is just the latest in a series of pioneering uses, by the band, of revolutionary new technologies throughout their real world career, including being the first group to shoot a music video on location ['Save A Prayer', 'Hungry Like The Wolf', 'Lonely In Your Nightmare] with director Russell Mulcahy, in 1982; the first band to use live video cameras and videoscreens in their concerts, on their 1984 US tour; the first artists to make a song available for digital download on the web ['Electric Barbarella'] in 1997; and the first band to produce a pop video made entirely using Macromedia Flash software.

Notes To Editors:

Duran Duran

In 1981, Duran Duran made music history with the release of the first-ever extended video for a song, made to accompany the 12" dance mix of 'Girls On Film.'  Directed by Godley and Crème, the clip was met with much controversy and was immediately banned by both MTV and the BBC.

In 1982, the band broke tradition once again, becoming the first group to shoot a music video on location.  With director Russell Mulcahy Duran Duran filmed three ground-breaking clips in Sri Lankafor 'Save A Prayer,' 'Hungry Like The Wolf' and 'Lonely In Your Nightmare,' that not only helped to give them a truly global fan-base but also marked the start of a new era on music television.  Later that same year they filmed the video for 'Rio' in Antigua- which became an MTV classic, and spawned some of the most iconic and enduring images of the band.

In 1984, on their USarena tour, Duran Duran became the first act to utilise live video cameras and video screens in their show, to bring the action closer to the audience.

In 1995 Kevin Godley directed two live clips for the band: 'Rio' and 'White Lines', at Wembley Arena, in London, using a newly developed technology that created images that could be projected in an even larger format than IMAX.

In 1997, after 17 years on the cutting-edge of music and technology, Duran Duran became the first band in the history of the Internet to digitally download a song for sale on the Worldwide Web. 'Electric Barbarella' was downloaded from Abbey Road Studios in Londonusing Liquid Audio.

In 2000, Duran Duran's video for 'Someone Else Not Me' was premiered on www.shockwave.com. The video was produced entirely using Macromedia Flash Technology and was the first video to be broadcast on MTV and VH1 using this form of digital animation.

Also in 2000, the ' UK Pop Trash Tour' featured the world's first use of 'augmented reality' technology in a live concert. Duran Duran worked with a computer graphics producer to create advanced 2D and 3D visual effects, allowing animated characters to appear live, on stage, with the band.

In 2001, during a 'Close Up Tour' show in Anaheim, California, the band made the first fully "immersive" video and audio recording of a rock concert. To do this they used 360-degree panoramic video cameras and a 10.2 channel audio recording system to capture the show. This pioneering recording was co-ordinated by producer Jarrell Pair with audio/video researchers working with Dr Tom Holman, who is best known for creating the Lucas Film's THX audio standard.

Also in 2001, unable to land the Space Shuttle Atlantis due to poor weather, NASA decided to wake up the crew with Duran Duran's 'Hold Back The Rain' in an effort to ward off further weather delays. It worked and the shuttle landed safely at Cape Canaveral.

In 2004, NASA sent a second Mars Exploration Rover into Space, called Opportunity.  The craft's main task was to investigate whether Mars had ever had environments that were suitable for sustaining life. Each morning NASA woke the Rover with a song, and, in early February, they chose Duran Duran's 'Is There Something I Should Know' in hopes of 'encouraging' Opportunity to find some more answers.

In 2006, the band's founder members Nick Rhodes and John Taylor launched the UK Guardian newspaper's Arts & Entertainment Podcast, with a 2-part interview discussing their 'Only After Dark' compilation album - a collection of some of their favourite music from the period 1978-1982.

This mini-podcast within a podcast made UKmedia history, marking the first time music from several, major record labels and music publishers has been officially approved for use in a single podcast, with 60 second clips of 6 tracks played as part of the interview."

Incidentally I hope all you non-editors stopped reading before the "Notes To Editors" part. That was privileged information for editors only. Now, am I the only one who thinks this whole virtual enterprise represents an inadvisable move away from the innate essence of Duran Duran: fucking super-models, riding on yachts and wearing expensive clothing/mascara/way too much hair gel?

Sure, I suppose Duran Duran's virtual avatars are probably cyber-fucking super-models, virtually riding on yachts and electronically wearing expensive clothing/mascara/way too much hair gel even as I write this. But I worry that after an initial period of success (let's call them the early cyber-early-eighties) the cyber-Duran Duran will decline in popularity, perhaps pursue forgettable side-projects (let's call them Cybercadia and The Power Station, only for computers) and wear out their welcome before scoring a few surprise comeback singles in the cyber-early-nineties.

Things might get so bad for this cyber-Duran Duran that it may someday resort to cheap gimmicks to drum up publicity, like creating virtual avatars of their cyber-selves in a pathetic attempt to keep up with the times.

Am I worrying for nothing? Has anybody actually checked out the cyber-Duranies? Are they, in fact, even better than the real thing? Discuss