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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



The Only 2009 Chart That Really Counts: Your Own

December 30th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Time for some end-of-year bloggage – I’m going to do a round-up of my favourite blog-posts on here from the year in a bit, so if you have any that were particularly useful to you, please do let me know via twitter or email or a comment here…

But first, my own chart of music listening for the year. This is taken from my last.fm account, so is a pretty accurate list of what I’ve been listening to (there’s no much of my listening that doesn’t get scrobbled to Last.fm…)

I’ll add some notes into the list… (the numbers after each name are the number of plays in the year) My Top 50 most-listened artists of 2009: [Read more →]

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music

Buying Music by Musicians In Trouble (Helping Vic Chesnutt’s Family)

December 26th, 2009 · Comments Off on Buying Music by Musicians In Trouble (Helping Vic Chesnutt’s Family)

On Christmas Eve, I found out via Kristin Hersh on Twitter that Vic Chesnutt was in a coma – Vic’s a singer/songwriter that I’ve known about since the mid 90s (Andrew AKA Calamateur played me a compilation album of his songs called Sweet Relief II).

I suggested over on my Posterous blog that if people wanted to help, they should buy his music. If he got better, he’ll have medical expenses, and if he didn’t, his wife will need money to live.

A lovely friend on Twitter questioned the usefulness of buying his music, suggesting that the magnitude of medical expenses couldn’t possibly be dented by buying music, what with labels and publishers taking all the money anyway… [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music · obituaries

A Decade In Music: The Internet And Me

December 24th, 2009 · 3 Comments

I was on the internet before my first album came out (this is what it looked like back then). In fact, much of the momentum that my first album had was to do with my good standing in the various bass-related web communities that I was a part of. As a player, teacher and journalist, I had a bit of a profile, and the web was a MUCH smaller place in the late 90s.

And that all made it so much easier to decide to do my album completely on my own. I never even entertained the idea of trying to get a ‘deal’. The economics didn’t make sense even then, and I had a hunch that the future was indie… [Read more →]

Tags: Gig stuff · Music News · Musing on Music · New Music Strategies

A Decade In Music – The Solo Bass Years.

December 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

First Ever Solo Gig, London, December 1999

My first ever solo gig was at the Troubadour in Earls Court, London, on Dec 15th, 1999 – 10 years ago last week.

The eve of the new millennium, and a gig that started with a lie (the lovely chap who booked the gig asked me if I had a whole set of material after seeing me do one solo tune in a band-gig. I lied and said ‘yes’ 🙂 ). It wasn’t the first time I’d played solo bass in public – that was a product demo at the National Music Show for Bassist Magazine in Nov 97. I also played weird improv noise stuff for a contemporary dance company in Nov 98.
[Read more →]

Tags: Gig stuff · Music News · Musing on Music

Transformative Vs Incremental Change

December 16th, 2009 · 18 Comments

This was originally written for MusicThinkTank, and the comment thread there is well worth reading. But you lovely regular readers here haven’t had a chance to mull it over and chat about it, so I thought I’d repost it here. On you go 🙂

—o0o—

OK, I’m going to try and explain why Big Music genuinely doesn’t get what’s happening with the online stuff. It’s easy to dismiss the thoughts coming out about ‘3 Strikes Laws‘, and Bit Torrent being to blame for the death of musicians’ livelihoods etc. as being a bunch of really rich people want to keep their massive piece of the pie – and there is some of that, for sure. But there’s also an entire way of thinking that explains why they feel the way they do.

The problem is to do with the difference in response required between transformative change, and incremental change.

Sticking with the music industry, let’s have a look at some examples of both, starting with incremental change: [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

The Futility of Fighting Fire with Fire

December 10th, 2009 · 23 Comments

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the madness of the music industry. To want to fix it. To put it right. To ‘reclaim‘ the territory for ‘real‘ music.

Remember back in the 80s, when the charts were full of music we liked? Top Of The Pops had a point, the chart show was a way to discover music. It was good.

The problem with that idea is that it ignores the fact that the situation then was us making the best of the limitations. We learned from the charts because we didn’t know any better. Most of us moved on to specialist radio as soon as we discovered it and developed the patience or the dadaist affectation required to sit through the more extreme outlying regions of John Peel and Andy Kershaw’s record collections.

[Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

A Decade In Music

December 7th, 2009 · 19 Comments

We’re rapidly approaching the end of the decade.

A decade that began just a couple of weeks after my first ever solo gig.

That gig, unknown to me at the time, marked a pretty huge turning point in my music career.

The ‘session’ work I’d be pursuing and doing up til that point was to dry up pretty damn quick when word got out that I was doing gigs on my own, but equally fast, word spread about what I was up to to the people who might like to listen to it, and I started to play more and more shows, and in August 2000 put out my first solo album. A decade later, and here we are… Where? I’m not sure. [Read more →]

Tags: music reviews · Musing on Music

Rock And Roll Is Dead… And My Novel Is Finished

December 3rd, 2009 · 5 Comments

As you’ll remember if you’re an even semi-regular visitor to this site, in November I took part in Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month. I started it, expecting that I probably wouldn’t finish it, due to the impending baby. But baby arrived and I still managed to finish it! Fifty thousand words that I’m actually rather proud of. It’s called ‘Rock And Roll Is Dead’, and it’s about a band who go on a journey.

Big, big thanks to the people who were reading it as we went along – you’ll see some of their tweets in the book from when they replied to the characters on there. Your encouragement and willingness to talk made-up nonsense to imaginary people was invaluable in shaping the direction of the book and providing the motivation to keep writing. Nuff respect. [Read more →]

Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies · Random Catchup

If Spotify Is The New Radio, The Artists Are Winning

November 25th, 2009 · 25 Comments

[EDIT – this post is a couple of years out of date – for a more recent appraisal of where I stand with Spotify, see Why I’ve Taken My Music Off Spotify]

There were a few articles kicking around yesterday touting a figure that ‘Lady Gaga earned $167 from Spotify for over a million plays’ – I think the story originated on TorrentFreak.

Perhaps not surprisingly the writers at TorrentFreak aren’t too au fait with the way that payment systems work for artists. The figure quoted is a publishing royalty – it’s from STIM (The Swedish Performing Rights Society). It doesn’t reflect payments due to the performer direct from Spotify (outlined in somewhat confusing detail in this Guardian article) which, according to the CEO of We7, are roughly ten times the PRS-collected royalty payment. It’s this figure that may or may not have been negotiated downwards by Spotify with the major labels – the labels have pretty much no say over the rates that the PRS set (other than through lobbying). [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Lily Allen Invents The Criminal Commons License

November 24th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Wow, now this one we didn’t expect! Lily Allen, following her heartfelt protestations that Mandelson’s plans to cut off the internet connections of ‘persistent file sharers’ were destroying opportunities for hard-working record labels to put money into young bands, has flipped to the polar opposite position.

No, she’s not saying file-sharing is OK. She’s now saying that it’s only bad if you DON’T charge for it. Yup, she’d rather you bought bootleg copies of her album from the crim in your local market than got it from a friend who bought it legitimately.

She has, in effect invented a whole new “license” – The Criminal Commons License: “please only breach the legal copyright on this work if you intend to profit financially from it.” [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians