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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Photos from the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch

December 10th, 2008 · Comments Off on Photos from the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch

I don’t think it’s too much of an overstatement to say that one of the really lovely things about playing jazz gigs in London is that more often that not, Helena Dornellas and Richard Kaby turn up and take amazing photos. Their flickr pages (click on their names) are about as good a visual document of what’s happening in Jazz in London as you’ll find.

So I’m extra chuffed that they came to the LDW launch gig and took yet more amazing pics. Here are Helena’s:

And if you want to come and see us we’re at The Monk Club in Richmond on Thursday (probably today as you read this!)

Tags: Gig stuff · Music News

Coming to America…

December 10th, 2008 · Comments Off on Coming to America…

Steve Lawson and Lobelia a live photograph taken in Hounslow, London.A week from today, Lo and I will be in New York! How exciting is that? Well, for us, very exciting. For you, probably less so. 🙂

But what may be of a little more interest is the series of house concerts that we’re doing. Being house concerts, I’m not putting the addresses up online, but if you want to more info on any of these please do drop me an email via the contact tab, or normal email if you’ve already got my address!

There are a couple of things still pending, so do keep an eye on the blog, especially if you’re in California or Philadelphia.

So here’s the list:

Dec 19th – Toledo, Ohio
Dec 20th – Brown Deer, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee) – details
Dec 22nd – Chicago Illinois

Jan 5th – Nashville (this will be a gig in the evening and a future of social media masterclass during the day – lots of details on request!)
(in here there could be a bass masterclass in Philadephia and there will be a future of social media for musicians masterclass in the LA area – more deets ASAP!)
Jan 15th-18th – NAMM Show, Anaheim California (demoing for Looperlative, Modulus and AccuGroove)
Jan 19th – gig, Long Beach, California, also featuring Vicki Genfan (she’s so good, it’s scary) – details
Jan 23rd – House Concert, San Jose
Jan 24th – House Concert, San Jose

There you go – that’s quite a lot of stuff going on, and may well be lots more… if you can see a hole in the calendar, and can think of something cool for us to do, be it a gig or a music masterclass, or a seminar/session on the future of the music industry, do get in touch. We’re open to offers :

Tags: gig dates · travel

'But I still like CDs!': why it's OK if your audience are webphobic.

December 4th, 2008 · Comments Off on 'But I still like CDs!': why it's OK if your audience are webphobic.

one of Ben Walker's excellent graphs. Clever man.This morning I read a really excellent blog post by Ben Walker.

It’s headed Wake Up And Smell The Evidence and outlines via statistics gathered from Ben’s own audience just how little of this social media webby geeky stuff gets through to ‘your average music fan’.

So are we wasting our time? Not if, like me, you see David Jennings amazing book, Net Blogs And Rock ‘n’ Roll as the handbook to understanding this stuff.

The Cover of Net Blogs And Rock 'n' Roll by David JenningsDavid addresses the very issue that Ben is most concerned with in the book, and in this blog post entitled Participation And Influence In Social Media in which he introduces us to a pyramid in which the 3 categories of participant in social media – as categorized by Bradley Horowitz – work as follows:

  • Creators — 1% of the user population might start a group (or a thread within a group)
  • Synthesisers — 10% of the user population might participate actively, and actually author content whether starting a thread or responding to a thread-in-progress
  • Consumers — 100% of the user population benefits from the activities of the above groups (lurkers

So when we put all this stuff out there, when we make our blogs and music and widgets and all that geeky bollocks sharable, we’re actually doing it for only a small percentage of our audience.

We can actually take heart that 1% of our audience are likely to be creating their own widgets, writing their own blogs about music and generally making a fuss about the things they love. If that happens to be us or our music, so much the better.

The next 10% are the ones who care, who share and who are very often there to bring friends along to gigs – they aren’t doing youtube mash-ups of our songs and clips from US teen TV shows, but they are very much aware of what we’re up to, and are more than happy to pass the info along.

And at the base of the pyramid we have the other 89%, who just like what we do, who listen, who put it on while they do the dishes. Who buy CDs, who listen to the radio, and use the internet to write emails to relatives and to passively stalk old school friends on FriendsReunited. They don’t really care (at the moment) about downloading and RSS feeds and twitter and tagging and all that other stuff we’re so excited and passionate about.

But then they don’t need to. Hopefully they’ll find out about us because one of their 10 BFFs is doing that for them. and then maybe…

…1 of their 100 work colleagues has started his own internet radio station,
…and he digs mellow loopy solo bass post rock goodness.
…So he plays me.
…And then Mrs FriendsReunited hears it because, hey, he’s a nice bloke to work with, and he even went to the trouble of emailing the link round.
…Most of what he plays is very odd, but there was this really gentle bit in the middle, sounded like the soundtrack to a mellow film.
…etc. etc.

The evolution of web-tools will always be targeted at these three groups differently. While Ben and David and I are all trawling the net for news of great social apps that we can add as plug-ins to our wordpress blogs, our keen friends and fans are happy to click on the ‘share this’ links a the bottom of each blog, and send it out to their mates on facebook. The better the facebook integration with our blog is, the better the chances are for them to share that stuff. And given the size and reach of sites like facebook and myspace, you never know, Mrs FriendsReunited may well have a facebook page, and get sent a link to a post about my new album, and hear it, and think ‘hmm, that reminds me of that thing on the internet radio station’ and about 3 years later she’ll serendipitously find out that they were one and the same, and will buy a CD…

So please do read Ben’s post. It’s excellent. But the situation is slightly less bleak than he makes out, as the marvellous David Jennings makes so clear in his post. I’m glad I have such wise and talented friends. (and no, for the record, David didn’t steal the idea from me… 😉 )

Tags: Geek · Musing on Music · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

House Concert photos…

November 29th, 2008 · Comments Off on House Concert photos…

this last week featured two amazing gigs for me. First one was Monday night, the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch. Second one was last night with Lobelia, a house concert in Camberley, hosted by the exceedingly lovely Ben and Caalie Ellis. I’ll post more about both v. soon, but for now, here’s a slide show of some lovely pictures by Andy Teo:

Tags: Gig stuff · Music News

Featured Artist at Reverb Nation…

November 26th, 2008 · Comments Off on Featured Artist at Reverb Nation…

steve lawson featured on reverb nation's front page. Monday night’s album launch was amazing – thanks to all who came along. More on that v. soon, as well as all the other blog posts I’ve been promising to write for so long…

But in the news dept, I’ve just had an email telling me that I’m a featured artist this week on the front page of Reverb NationReverb Nation is what Myspace should have been like if they hadn’t found it more interesting to give old dudes a way to hit on teenage girls instead of making a site where people can actually find new music. It’s a great platform, and the speed at which it is evolving, growing and improving is remarkable. Do check it out if you haven’t seen it before.

They also get how information posted on social networks needs to be ‘tearable’, portable and aggregate-able, so just about all the data you put on there can be embedded anywhere else as widgets, and you can add your twitter account as a status update on there, and link it to other services (including myspace).

Anyway, my Reverb Nation page is at www.reverbnation.com/stevelawson – and from there you can download an ENTIRE free album – Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt II. It’s a pretty good introduction to what I do when I play solo.

(you can download another free album from Last.fm here

Tags: Music News · website recommendations

Myspace friend-cull. Who, How, Why.

November 23rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Myspace friend-cull. Who, How, Why.

Steve Lawson's myspace friends.I’ve just spent a most enjoyable few hours of the last couple of days removing over 90% of my Myspace ‘Friends’. By ‘removing’, I just mean from my list of myspace friends, not anything more sinister!

My reasoning was fairly simple – with just over 8000 friends, I was finding Myspace to be completely unusable. I wasn’t getting a play-count that suggested any sizable number of those friends were checking back in to see me, and the same went for blog-views. The way that Myspace’s interface is set up, it’s pretty much impossible to sort by region and send targeted messages (there is that option in the event invite, it just doesn’t work as they neither require location info from people signing up, nor do they make it clear why it would be useful. Even then, you still have to add people one by one.

If you’ve got over 5000 friends you can’t get a list of who’s online, or search within your contacts and there’s no sensible way of grouping them (yes, they’ve just added categories, no, they don’t really offer the kind of granularity of data that I’d want).

Basically, the myspace platform is a distaster. So why stick with it?

Well, let’s have a look at what Myspace has going for it:

#1: Ubiquity.
#2: ….

Uhm, that’s it. Pretty much. But it’s a biggie. Lots of people unfamiliar with the rest of the internets still use Myspace to find music. Promoters often use it as their first port of call when looking at a band as a potential booking (goodness only knows why), and there are just millions and millions of people on there who think of it as a music site.

So I’m going to try and make the best of it. I’ve started by removing everyone I don’t know, don’t recognise, and don’t remember having had any proper communication with, as well as all the huge bands I’m a fan of but never talk to. In the process of doing it, I’ve almost certainly deleted a load of actual fans, some of whom probably had me in their top friends list. Hopefully, they’ll come and find me, add me again, and we’ll have a chat we otherwise wouldn’t have had. If not, it means they haven’t noticed, or don’t care, and that’s not a problem either.

Now, when I look at my friends list, I have context for all of them. I want to talk to them, message them, read about them. Myspace is going social in this house. And I’m not accepting any friend requests from anyone who doesn’t send me a message with it.

Lobelia did the Myspace mass-delete about a year ago, and saw no drop-off in the number of plays she was getting. She just stayed in touch with more people. So I’m copying her. 🙂

If you do want to add me on myspace please click here and do so.

And if we’re already friends over there, check out the blog post and all the comments over there too.

Tags: Managing Information Streams · Musing on Music · tips for musicians

Best Practices In Social Media.

November 20th, 2008 · Comments Off on Best Practices In Social Media.

Weeks and weeks ago, I was ‘tagged’ by the very lovely and talented Ben Ellis of RedCatCo, in a blog-meme about best practices in social media. It’s a great subject, because with social media stuff being as young as it is, we’re not as clued up on how to ‘use’ it as we are with say, a phone. No-one talks about ‘using the phone‘ as a business strategy, and people who misuse the phone (prerecorded spam calls) are generally vilified for being a total pain in the arse. The same could largely be said of email.

But social media has a different engagement curve than phone or email – the one-to-many nature of the conversations lends itself rather too well to getting the balance wrong.

So my suggestion for best practice surrounds the idea of parity. Parity in terms of messages out to messages in, followers to followees and the nature of the information you throw out there. So much of the strategising people do with social media (be it facebook, twitter, myspace, linkedin, or whatever else) still treats these platforms as a broadcast medium. I can’t stress strongly enough, social media is crap for broadcast. If you want to carpet-bomb web-users with info about your product, just buy some dodgy email spam software, and stop misusing twitter as an ad medium. It’s not designed for it, it doesn’t facilitate it, and the rubbish lengths you have to go to to try and shoe-horn your strategy into the platform make you look like a berk.

So, if you’re lost in the midde of it all, try to keep a degree of parity in terms of the numbers of people who follow you and you are following. Moreover, with Twitter, don’t follow more people than the number of tweets you’ve sent – it’s not a hard and fast rule, more a best practice for easing your way in. The excitement of joining in with the fun on twitter often leads to people ‘following’ tonnes of people before actually posting anything, but it just makes you look like a spammer. So slow down, use the ‘reply’ button liberally, don’t feel the desperate need to tweet the link to your site every third tweet. Just have fun, and talk to people.

If you see it as a conversation, and talk the way you’d want to be talked to. If you get annoyed with people who do nothing but talk about their business, don’t become that person.

So beginners best practice?

  • Back off,
  • seek a degree of parity,
  • listen as much as you speak,
  • follow as much as you’re followed,
  • give as much information as you take,
  • offer more free advice than the amount of service-related tweets you do for your own product.

Bottom line – friends are more likely to be into what you do than strangers. So make friends first, and let the other stuffs take care of itself for now.

Tags: Geek · Managing Information Streams · tips for musicians

Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch gig next Monday!

November 19th, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch gig next Monday!

Right, wireless is now working on Das Boot – will be back to full blogging speed before too long. But first, some news you really need to know 🙂

Hopefully you’re already planning on coming to the Lawson/Dodds/Wood launch gig next week at the Vortex in Dalston. If you’re not, there’s still time to postpone whatever it was you had planned and come and see us do our thing. It’ll be fab, I promise.

If you’re VERY new to this ‘ere blog and are wondering who Lawson/Dodds/Wood are, you can go and listen to (then buy if, as you probably will, you decide it’s the most wonderful thing you’ve heard in a long time, and indie loveliness such as this deserves some investment 🙂 ) – head over to stevelawson.net/ldw – there’s a player embedded there so you can listen to the album, which is out on the day of the gig.

Alternatively, also embedded in that page, are videos and links to a load of other videos about the making of the album. Which is pretty amazing, as the main bulk of the material was improvised live in the studio.

It’s fab, honest, and we’d LOVE to see you at the gig – you can book tickets for it at http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk – please come along and hear us. The CD will be launched on the night, and if you’ve ordered the CD in advance, you’ll be able to pick up your CD on the night.

Tags: gig dates · Gig stuff · Music News

Blog-silence…

November 11th, 2008 · Comments Off on Blog-silence…

Apologies for the blog-silence – life has been v. busy of late, mainly with moving house (if you’re a student of mine and didn’t get the email, drop me a line and I’ll let you know the details!)

Anyway, one of the up-shots of moving is that we’ve had limited access to the internets, so blogging, video stuff, feed-reading all all kinds of other fun stuff that I usually get to do online has gone by the way-side…

But we should be back in action ASAP. And I will write Social Media First Principles Pt III. I promise 🙂

Tags: Random Catchup · teaching news

…and another video with Michael Manring!

November 3rd, 2008 · Comments Off on …and another video with Michael Manring!

Here’s a second video from 2005, with Michael Manring – this one was filmed the day after the last one, at the Brookdale Lodge, a rather freaky venue in the Santa-Cruz mountains that actually as a creek running through it… and a swimming pool with all kinds of weird tales attached to it – apparently the place was a Mobster hang-out back in the 20s.

Anyway, they now have duelling-bassists to add to their list of weird events, and here’s the video evidence!

Tags: Music News