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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



What Makes Your Music Interesting?

May 28th, 2009 | 21 Comments | Categories: Geek · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians |

These last couple of weeks, I’ve been SO busy with geek-things, that I’ve had little time for picking up a bass and making noises. It feels like a bit of a shame to have lost the momentum I picked up whilst posting my series of new video experiments to vimeo, but it also feels like a good break, time to think.

The 3 ‘live blogging’ events I’ve done have all been very different, but have all contained lessons for the discerning social-media-monkey-muso.

The first one – the London Songwriter’s Week session with Andrew Dubber and Tom Robinson – was perhaps the easiest to see the value in, given that it was a session about the wonders of the internet for musicians, especially those looking to collaborate.

But over and above that, there was another interesting lesson to do with being, well, interesting. I was there purely because Andrew Dubber asked me if I fancied it when I saw him a few days before – it sounded like fun, and basically anything Dubber’s involved in is going to be a time to learn and have a laugh, so I went for it. Which meant that instead of being there as a songwriter, I was there as a social media ninja. As well as blogging it, I was answering questions, and getting to talk a little about what I do with my career in the context of how those lessons will help people. I didn’t say much about what I do as a musician beyond being a solo bassist, and having had some success in terms of playing ‘big venues’ (the Level 42 tour) and getting played on the radio, but even that was only to contrast it with the levels of engagement I get from comparatively small numbers of people online. I didn’t take any CDs with me, and I didn’t really plug my music.

However, Tom Robinson – genius singer/songwriter and radio DJ extraordinaire – was interested enough in what I said that he went to my website. While looking at the Flickr embed on my photos page, he was ‘ambushed’ by a video that lovely Annie Boccio filmed of Lobelia and I playing Philadelphia. She’d uploaded it to Flickr (in two parts) and I’d favourited them, thus adding it to that flickr slideshow of all my favourited pics. Tom heard it, left this very positive comment, and then emailed me to say how much he enjoyed the song. Here’s the one he saw:

I’ve yet to follow it up properly, but by going along to an event out of curiosity and a sense of adventure, I got to ninja-fy for a load of lovely eager singer/songwriters (many of whom have also probably checked out my music, who wouldn’t have if they saw an ad in mag for a ‘solo bassist’) but also to meet and make friends with Tom, and get him curious enough about who I am and what I do that he stumbled onto a video on my site, that I didn’t upload, or even have to grab a specific embed code for.

That, my lovely bloglings, is social media at its best. It doesn’t happen all the time, and it may or may not turn into a radio session or whatever – the point being, I was found by being interesting, not by being good. Being good just gave Tom something to get excited about once he’d heard it.

Everybody’s a genius until you hear them. Why are people going to listen to you and not the other 100 million bands on the web? What makes you interesting? Give it some thought, and post a comment below (yup, I’m actually soliciting band-spam for the first time EVER on this blog, with one rule: you can’t use any words that describe how ‘good’ you are at what you do. I’m not concerned with your perception of your own quality, just what makes you interesting :) )

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21 Comments so far ↓

  • Katy Bowser

    Fan-freakin’-tastic thoughts, Steve, and great discussion here, too. You have clearly gone and made yourself interesting. I’m so grateful that you’re helping the rest of us- that’s also making me interested!

    As for us: I’ve not found anyone out there besides Coal Train Railroad who makes real, original jazz for kids and their grownups, too. We think we’ve hit on something, as kids, parents, teachers, jazz musicians, industry folks and music therapists are all telling us they love it.
    We weren’t shooting for “interesting to the industry”, we were shooting for “interesting to little people- and doesn’t make us scream”- and caught a bit of the rest.