All of a sudden, the scale of the importance of what was going on in my lifetime was brought home. It wasn’t just seeing it on the TV, it was reading about world changing events and people and REMEMBERING them happening. Seeing the broken wall, walking from West to East Berlin, and remembering watching it live, being taken apart. [Read more →]
December 6th, 2013 | No Comments | Categories: obituaries · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.
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December 4th, 2013 | No Comments | Categories: New Music Strategies
So, at the end of my post about the FingerPainting Sessions best-of albums, I said I’d blog about why I sell my ‘complete works‘ USB Stick so cheap.
It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot. It’s even caused some skepticism about the contents from people who can’t work out why 24 albums, a 45minute live video and my novel on a USB stick would *only* cost £25.
There are a couple of different reasons, but the existence of the question, I think, stems from a somewhat strange anomaly of the old recording industry. That of there being VERY few artists as unknown as I am that have extensive back catalogues. It’s growing, because the internet makes it possible for people to do what I do (it’s made it possible for ME to do what I do!) and more artists are taking advantage of that, but it’s still pretty rare to have put out 34 albums as an artist who still sells on average a few hundred copies of anything they release… Mostly, with a label, you got to try and ‘make it’ with your first album, or sometimes two or three, but if you weren’t selling quite a few thousand by then, it just wasn’t feasible to go on making records. The fixed costs were too high…
So all of our perception of what people do with their back catalogue is based on what famous people do with their back catalogue. and for a large number of those famous people, they or their label are trying to squeeze yet more money out of their uber-fans. Boxed sets are often remastered, repackaged, even reformatted (DVD-A/Blueray Audio/108gram vinyl etc) to try and get people who already love the music to buy this ‘exclusive’ version again.
And, buried in there is often the desire on the part of the person selling it to not have to make any more music like that. If I can sell enough of these premium packages, I’ll be able to retire… Which is great if you’re Led Zep, or The Eagles or whoever.
If you’re me, the story’s a little different:
- I don’t have anywhere near enough ‘super-fans’ to make creating ‘product’ just for them remotely viable. The wider community of people who are interested in what I do runs to several thousand. The inner core is just a handful (as far as I can tell!)
- I have neither the desire not the likelihood of being able to retire on the sale of my music.
- I’m actively involved in making more and more music. I’ve released over 10 hours of music in the last year, and will probably put out another 4 or 5 albums in the next 6-12 months.
- Most of my gigs are house concerts, and at house concerts, I’m generally playing to people who haven’t heard me before but who mostly have had a fantastic evening by the end, and would often like to take some music home. A £180 25 LP set isn’t going to be that…
So a USB stick allows me to bundle it all up, at a pretty low unit cost to me (the USB sticks work out about £6 each, which is about the production cost of 3 short-run CDs) and because I put the music on them myself (it takes 8-10 minutes per stick to load them up) I can keep adding to what’s on them – I’m not stuck with those 24 albums until I’ve sold out of the current stack of merch. I can keep adding things as I release them.
But most importantly, I can make my ENTIRE back catalogue an entry point. It’s a thing that someone whose just seen me playing a support slot might buy (that’s happened a few times), it’s something that people on Twitter, who previous have downloaded an album or two for free, or for a couple of quid, might buy (that happens a lot). And at £25, it’s even an investment worth making to save yourself the trouble of downloading it all off Bandcamp. You get the stick, plug it in, drag all the music off it, and you’re left with a perfectly useful 4Gb USB Stick
£25 for 24 albums is an invitation into my musical world, a ticket onto the bus. It’s a chance to catch up, to drop it all into iTunes and put it on random while you work, switching to album-mode when you hit on a track you REALLY love. There are PDF sleevenotes, and the aforementioned video and novel. I’m sure I’ll add more as I go along.
But at it’s heart it’s a friendly, sustainable way of getting lots of music out to curious people. So it works perfectly for me.
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December 2nd, 2013 | No Comments | Categories: gig dates · Gig stuff
Right, here’s something I’ve never done before – a solo gig on my birthday.
That’s December 28th, for those that don’t know.
The gig will be at Tower Of Song, my favourite venue in the Birmingham area.
The ticket price is ‘pay what you can afford’, and if you buy tickets in advance, [ click here to buy tickets ] there’s a lovely new exclusive download track of a thing I recorded living in London a couple of weeks ago, opening for Yolanda Charles. You’ll get that, whatever you pay, but if you pay over £10, you’ll also get a download copy of my NEXT solo album, called ‘What The Mind Thinks, The Heart Transmits’ – it won’t be out til next year, but you can have a copy now. It’s a single 45 minute track, and is very lovely indeed. I promise. So you may want to buy that even if you can’t be there…
But Wait! There’s MORE!
The gig will also feature the debut of my excellent new duo with drum-legend Andy Edwards. Andy and I recently got together to record some promo stuff for a new Tama drumkit. None of it was what you’d call ‘songs’ – no beginnings/middles/endings, just fun jams to show off the kit, but they’ll give you an idea of where we’re heading
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November 25th, 2013 | 1 Comment | Categories: Music News · New Music Strategies
I know, it’s about 4 months late, but we’ve finally finished the double best-of compilation from all the ‘FingerPainting’ shows. Choosing the right sequence of tracks was really hard, and even once I’d chosen it, it took a LONG time for me to believe it was the right order… If it’d been a digital-only release, I’d have put it out and changed it, but when you’re pressing CDs, you really don’t want to screw that up…
So here it is – the digital version is available for streaming/buying/sharing right now, and the CD version will be out next week. So if you buy it now, it’ll get to you within the next 10-15 days.
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November 23rd, 2013 | No Comments | Categories: New Music Strategies
OK how cool is this? A lovely new addition to the Bandcamp UI – the option to send any download as a gift.
Click on the ‘Send as Gift’ option and you get to put in a friend’s email address, and a note to them before heading off to pay for it in the usual way.
Then it drops into their inbox as a glorious surprise containing delicious hand-picked, valued music. All the adrenaline-fuelled SQUEEE! of a physical present
want to try it out? Head over to http://music.stevelawson.net, pick a favourite album and send it to a friend. They get music, we get paid, you get karma.
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November 13th, 2013 | 3 Comments | Categories: gig dates
Right, this is going to be all kinds of fun. Julie Slick is on her way to play a festival in Sweden and is stopping off on the way to hang out with Lo and I for a couple of days. Which means that she and I get the chance to do a show together… but it’ll be a show with a difference. It’ll be streaming-only. No live audience at all.
We’ll do it from my studio, and will no doubt record it all too. It’ll be at 8pm on Monday 18th November 2013, and the particular platform we’re going to use has yet to be decided (nothing like last minute planning, eh?)
But it’ll happen, and it will be lovely. Julie’s one of my favourite bassists on the planet – if you don’t already have her two solo albums, you really need to hear/buy/share them over at http://julieslick.bandcamp.com.
We did a gig together in January 2012, in Hollywood, a really lovely house concert hosted by some wonderful friends of mine. We’re really looking forward to doing it again.
More specific details ASAP
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November 6th, 2013 | No Comments | Categories: gig dates
After the fabulous reception to our show together in Birmingham earlier in the year, I’m SO pleased to be going out on tour next week with Yolanda Charles.
Best known for her bass playing with Paul Weller and Robbie Williams – amongst a massive list of session credits! – Yolanda is also arguably the finest funk bassist in the country, and fronts her own funk/soul/jazz band The Deep MO.
For this tour, she’s teaming up in a duo with one of my favourite drummers, Nicolas Viccaro, from Paris, and we’ll be playing a series of shows together, that will no doubt also feature some bass/bass/drums fun too! The dates are:
- Sunday 10th, 7.30pm - Birmingham - Tower Of Song [tickets - map - Facebook]
- Monday 11th, 7pm - Stourbridge - Moochers [tickets - map - Facebook]
- Thurs 14th, 6.30pm - Axminster - Axe Valley College [map - tix (£5/£3 under 18s) from 01297 32146]
(Friday 15th Yo and Nico are in Bristol, and I’ve got a gig with Alvin Stardust in Kent!!)
the London show will be a FULL Deep MO band set.
If you buy advance tickets for the Birmingham or Stourbridge shows, you’ll get a freecopy of Yolanda’s Deep MO EP on CD, on the night. More info here.
I’m so looking forward to this tour. I’m hoping it’ll be the first of many opportunities to get out and play in line-ups like this. I hope Yo and I can do lots more together. So please do come out and hear some lovely music, tell your friends. Your help spreading the word(especially at this late notice!) Is SO important. Text some friends, get a car-load together and come out for a night of bassy magic.
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October 9th, 2013 | 2 Comments | Categories: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies
This was another one of the blog themes I gave my social media students last week. They tackled it in various ways, but I’d like to expand on where the question comes from.
The root of it is the conversation about ‘marketing’ and ‘promotion’. Ever since MySpace, musicians have been looking for ingenious ways to increase their audience without actually doing any of the tried and tested pre-web stuff (actually making amazing music, doing gigs, contacting media outlets in the hope that they’ll recognise the brilliance of your work and write about you or play you on the radio, Encouraging your existing fans to talk about what you do).
As ever, the ‘race to the bottom’ led to a whole new kind of musician spam – blanket messages sent to every Myspace (now Facebook) friend, multiple postings on other people’s pages, imploring friends and strangers to ‘check out my amazing new video on YouTube’ and perhaps the most insidious of all, networks of musicians making a pact to promote each others work, regardless of quality or the degree to which the sharer is actually interested in the shared work. (I’ve written a lot about the nonsense of this kind of reciprocity). [Read more →]
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October 7th, 2013 | 3 Comments | Categories: Kidderminster College Stuff
Here’s another of the blog topics I set for my College students – we got onto the topic of ‘guilty pleasures’ in class, so I asked them to write about it.
What do we mean by guilty pleasures? Guilty of what? enjoying it? of not acquiescing to the groupthink of our particular subculture? Of not knowing what ‘serious’ music fans ought to listen to? Are we guilty because we know its wrong, or because we’re concerned about getting caught?
All of those – admittedly trivial – concerns miss a much bigger question, about WHY we listen to music. Much as we’d love to see ourselves as objective connoisseurs of musical worth, there are way to many factors at play to make any sense of ‘transgressive listening’ remotely meaningful in relation to the music as opposed to the sub-culture. [Read more →]
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October 6th, 2013 | 1 Comment | Categories: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies
One of the first social networks I ever joined was Last.fm – back in the pre-corporate buy-out days, it was an amazing way to connect with music listeners, to find people with similar taste, and through them discover some amazing music.
What was most revolutionary about it at the time, at least for me, was that it was a website that created ‘charts’ based on listening, not on shopping. So you had a record of the music that was soundtracking your life, rather than just the latest things to tempt you to part with cash. [Read more →]
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