“Our dreams are a second life.” ~Gerard de Nerval
By Buttercup Thursday.
Tipping, or otherwise rewarding others for special service or products, can be as tricky a prospect in Second Life as it is in our first life. In the U.S. and Canada, there are generally specific guidelines for the amount of tip to leave, should you choose to, depending on the place, the level of service and the amount of the bill. In other parts of the world the rules change; for example many European countries include a service charge or gratuity in the bill, and in many Asian cultures tipping is not customary at all.
What about our virtual world, this Second Life culture? What are the rules of tipping in SL?
It might seem like you can’t go anywhere in Second Life without someone holding out a hand for a tip. Keep in mind that while many people are paid for their time, or don’t care if they are paid, others work hard for tips to pay tier, expenses, and supplement RL income.
Musicians and DJs: Unless the host of the event advises otherwise, it is customary to tip both live musicians and DJs at a music venue, if your ears are tingling with delight or you are otherwise charmed by the performer. Their expenses (stream rental, for example) are not insignificant and many spend considerable time offline rehearsing or putting together play lists. Though most live performers receive a fee from the venue owner (which varies widely) consider that you are hearing some fantastic, live, streaming music, often from performers who play RL venues, and tip accordingly.
Tips from L$50 to L$300 are most common. If your special, mooshy request is played and your partner swoons in your arms, maybe tip a little more.
Hosts: These are the lively little numbers who, besides greeting and sending you dance invites, try to keep the party rolling, put the buzz in an event, pump up the volume and excitement, even when the buzz is so low that even the fruit flies have left the building. They are plucky and brave and generally work for tips only… so it’s customary to tip about the same as DJs, especially if you are a regular and greeted as such, and love the banter, and don’t mind the endless lines of chat spam.
Dancers: The dancers I talked to earn anywhere from L$0 to L$6000 (or more) in a night’s work of two hours or so. Many strip clubs have a sliding scale, usually posted, expecting a certain amount of Linden for each stage of undress. These ladies and gentlemen, when they are doing their jobs, slink around a pole or a stage, chat up the guests, enticingly remove bits of clothing, and imaginatively show their gratitude when tip jar is filled. Dancers contribute to the SL economy by purchasing beautiful skins and outfits, and these expenses add up. The house normally takes a percentage of the tips the dancers receive, so keep that in mind too. Start with about L$100. Hey, big spender!
Venues: Clubs and art galleries are two common examples of venues that have tip jars set up asking for your support. These open guitar cases or roman vases are often overlooked, but the owners have lovingly put together a venue for your enjoyment, and probably fussed over everything from the texture of the bar top and the color of the parrot, to meticulously detailed shadows and lighting. They hire the talent in the case of a club or concert hall, search SL for amazing artists to showcase in the case of a gallery, schedule DJs and hosts, pay tier and music licenses, if required. How many times have you TPed to a favorite club or gallery only to find an open field, a tacky revolving FOR RENT sign and the sound of crickets? If you love a place, for heaven’s sake show your love by tipping. Any amount is good here.
Artists who have their own galleries rely on sales of their work, more than tips. If you love the work but can’t afford it, or there is no room for it under the bridge where you live, or it’s not to your taste but you appreciate the creativity, then tip the venue. By doing so you become an official patron of the arts.
Certainly not, if you are unhappy with the product (the DJ is rude, the singer is off-key, the dancer is AFK). And I don’t think it’s necessary to tip in every single venue you visit, every time. You are showing appreciation, not paying an entry fee. In any case, a wise performer or venue owner does not concentrate on tips, but on providing the best experience for their customers. If you are new, and broke, and not a magician, it is rather difficult to tip. You can show your appreciation in other ways; for example, a busy dance floor is heaven to a DJ–you are showing love just by turning up. Artists are thrilled to welcome a crowd to an opening event. If you join the banter, even better. Don’t hesitate to send a IM if you like a particular song or piece, or offer congratulations, or just to say thanks for the art or entertainment. This, by the way, is always better than leaving an alarmingly low tip. L$1 dropped in a tip jar is like leaving a waitress a penny. Simply insulting. Tip what you can afford, and if you can afford nothing, then show the love in other ways.
Most artists and performers share their talents in SL because they are passionate about what they do and love the opportunity to “follow their bliss” in an alternate world. They are showing the love to you, every day. Why not show your love right back?– and tip generously.
For slum magazine.