stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Entries Tagged as 'cool links'

5 Solo Bassists Who Shaped My Musical World

January 3rd, 2015 · 6 Comments

It’s a truism that most solo bass struggles in ‘pure’ musical terms. It’s so easy to get caught up justifying our ‘right’ to play solo by doing clever acrobatic things that the meaningful deployment of those acrobatics, or the avoidance of them for more musical ends gets lost along the way, and YouTube ends up as a fumbling bass-circus.

For this reason, there are very few solo bassists in my list of musical influences. But those who are there are towering monuments to what’s possible on this amazing instrument of ours, and their influence on my music and musical outlook is massive.

So, in no particular order, here’s 5 solo bassists who shaped my musical world: [Read more →]

Tags: bass ideas · cool links

“Why Don’t You Have A Proper Job?”

November 21st, 2012 · 2 Comments

In response to a question about being freelance, Kris Halpin just tweeted me a link to this video:

If you’re a musician, or in pretty much any freelance job, you’re likely to have been asked the question in the post title. Perhaps you get asked it a lot. There’s definitely an assumption in certain sectors that doing things in the arts for a living is some kind of soft option, or we do it because we can get ‘a proper job’. [Read more →]

Tags: cool links

Interview With Me For The Unconventional Guide To Art And Money

February 1st, 2010 · 2 Comments

Last week I was interviewed by Zoë Westof for the Unconventional Guide To Art and Money – it was a really fun interview to do (anybody surprised that I love talking about art, vocation, creativity, business and stuff like that??)

The eBook itself is a really interesting idea, in that with it you get a bunch of audio interviews, and then updates – more interviews as they come along. It’s a great way of fairly easily ‘adding value’ to a digital product. Much harder to do if you have to mail out hard copies of extra chapters to a real book, but for digital services like this, it makes a lot of sense to continue updating them (I know that a lot of authors continue blogging on the same subject to update the info in their physical books. that works too!)

So, check out the book by clicking here – it’s interesting that so much of the advice in it is about visual art, rather than music or writing, but that actually makes it more fun (and perhaps easier?) to abstract principles from it rather than getting caught up in the details of someone else’s execution of their ideas.

Anyway, here’s the interview with me – it’s an hour long, so set aside a little time, or download it and listen to it on the bus on the way to work :)



or download it here.

I don’t have a transcript of the interview, but if you want to pull out the quotes from it that connect with you the most and add them to the comments, we can put together ‘edited’ highlights.

Tags: cool links · tips for musicians

Jonatha Brooke playing the UK this week.

February 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on Jonatha Brooke playing the UK this week.

Jonatha Brooke and steve Lawson at The StablesQuick post before a proper blog update later on.

One of my favouritest singer/songwriters in the whole world is playing in London this week. If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a few months, you’ll have heard me go on about Jonatha Brooke before. She’s an outstanding singer, songwriter, guitarist, story-teller, performer. All round marvellous. And she’s in the UK at the moment:

Tues 24th – Leicester, The Musician
Wednesday 25th – Norwich, Arts Centre
Friday 27h – London, Bush Hall
Sun 1st – Salford, Lowry Centre.

Really, you shouldn’t miss her. Lobelia and I will be at the London gig on Friday, so come and say hi. Here’s a Youtube vid to whet your appetite – there’s plenty more of her on there, or on her website at jonathabrooke.com

Tags: cool links · Gig stuff · website recommendations

One from The Vault – interview from BassRocket.com

May 13th, 2008 · Comments Off on One from The Vault – interview from BassRocket.com

In the process of transferring my website over to this lovely shiny new format, I removed a lot of dead links to reviews and interviews that were no longer online. Fortunately, I knew a few of the writers, and so was able to get hold of transcripts of the original interviews direct from them.

One that I found was this one from BassRocket.com – the site itself no longer exists, but the article was written by Andy Long, a music journalist that had interviewed me a number of times for different magazines, and always asks interesting questions, the answers to some of which surprised me (I tend not to have pre-written answers to interview questions, so often come up with stuff on the spur of the moment that I look back on and learn from :) )

It’s also interesting to see how few of the projects that I listed as ‘upcoming’ in that article actually happened… The planned recording and gigs with Eric Roche is particularly hard to read about, as Jan 2005 was when Eric was in his short remission period between his first bout with cancer and when it came back and tragically took his life. We talked a lot through his recovery time about our plans for gigs and recording, but nothing ever happened. One of the few big regrets of my career.

Anyway, have a read of the article, it’s from a few months after Grace And Gratitude came out and it’s a good ‘un!

Tags: cool links · journalism · Music News · site updates

More amazing free music

April 23rd, 2008 · Comments Off on More amazing free music

Right, I’ve got loads of fascinating stuff to blog about (no, really), but that can wait, cos right now, I’ve got loads of great free music to tell you about. First up, Lobelia is giving away a whole album of voice ‘n’ piano stuff on Reverb Nation. The album, called 040515 (the date it was recorded, in Canadian apparently), was recorded live at Power Base Studio in Nebraska, which is where she and I recorded our fantastic live E.P last summer.

It’s a really beautiful record, and was the first thing I heard from her ages ago. The track ‘Wake Up And Lose You’ is particularly amazing. Some of the songs you might recognise if you’ve seen us live over the last year and a half, but perhaps not in this format…

Anway, downloading it is v. easy, either via her Reverb Nation page or via the widget embedded below – just click on ‘songs’, and the downloadable ones start with Wake Up And Lose You… You’ll have to sign up to her mailing list, if you’re not already, but you’ll want to anyway, cos she’s amazing. :o)


LobeliaQuantcast

For more on Lo and her music, see her website, or add her as a friend on her Facebook musician page or via MySpace page.

Go! download! download like the wind!!

Tags: cool links · music reviews · Musing on Music · website recommendations

Seth Godin on spam, email and right to contact…

April 13th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Thanks to this post on lovely Valerie Gonyea’s blog, I’ve found very cool quote from this great post by Seth Godin:

“Here, it’s simple:

You can contact just about anyone you want. The only rule is you need to contact them personally, with respect, and do it months before you need their help! Contact them about them, not about you. Engage. Contribute. Question. Pay attention. Read. Interact.

Then, when you’ve earned the right to attention and respect, months and months later, sure, ask. It takes a lot of time and effort, which is why volume isn’t the answer for you, quality is.

That’s a great way to get a job, promote a site, make a friend, spread the word or just be a human.”

I’ve been telling people this for years – the ONLY way to get any kind of meaningful interaction with people is to earn the right to meaningful interaction. Requesting interaction via spam, or demanding it without context is not only rude, it’s entirely unproductive.

The two worst places for this online at the moment are Myspace and Twitter – Myspace is particularly crass, with the mass email spam machines that often ask a lot of you but can’t be bothered to interact at all. The Twitter variation is to ‘follow’ people, post a load of links to products and marketing crap and somehow expect people to take notice. Bollocks. It’s SO not going to happen. If you’ve got 15,000 fans on myspace and the only conversation on your page is endless formularised ‘thanks for the add’ comments, I’m going to ignore you.

Likewise on Twitter, if you’re following 3,000 people, never reply to anyone else’s comments and only ever post obscured links to marketing stuff, there’s no way I’m going to follow you.

Here’s my musicians addendum to Seth’s comment: Nobody owes you any attention at all. You don’t respond well to spam, so why on earth would you expect anyone else to? It doesn’t matter how important you think your music is, you’ve still got to earn the right to request attention from your audience. Likewise, the chances of people finding your music and falling in love with it are miniscule unless you’re inviting people in and providing context for understanding what you do and an environment for interaction with you as they get into you and your noises.

Web 2.0 is neither about a collection of static info sheets, nor scatter-shot spam broadcasting. It’s about interaction, communication, discussion, sharing, conversation, context, experience, experiment and fun.

Anyway, read Seth’s post, it’s great, and go interactive!

Tags: cool links · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Some thoughts on 'Free' methodology and practice…

April 10th, 2008 · Comments Off on Some thoughts on 'Free' methodology and practice…

It’s the big buzz-concept in the online world – the new currency is attention, recorded music can be duplicated at zero cost, so we should all give it away in order to promote ourselves as a brand, and the caveat often added to this is that we make our money off live shows.

OK, let’s contrast this with a distinction I’ve pointed out quite a few times over the years between bands from the US and bands from the UK. As a general rule (and there are exceptions on both sides, but it pretty much stands) American bands are ‘better’ live, while British bands are more creative in the studio. The reason for this is one of necessity and scale: the live circuit in the US means that you could quite easily play 250 nights a year and not repeat yourself for a couple of years. It’s quite possible for a coffee-shop-sized artist to literally ‘live on the road’ – if you want to know more about that, I seriously advise that you get Seth Horan’s ‘Between Two Oceans’ DVD – this isn’t a slick presentation about how touring works. It’s a fly on the wall look at actual life on the road. Some of it’s funny, some of it’s silly, some of it looks like proper fun, some of it looks like purile nonsense. All wrapped around Seth’s fantastic music…

The thing with Seth’s DVD is that it looks like some kind of weird fairy tale from this side of the Atlantic. Here’s why. if you are gigging in the UK alone, VERY few bands ever get to do more than 30 or so gigs a year. I asked a Live Nation employee recently about the bands they promote here, and who is doing more shows than that. Off the top of her head, the only name she could think of was Status Quo. Not one ‘new’ artist.

So, unless you’re clearing at least £500 a night as a solo artist, you aren’t going to be making a living out of gigs. The musicians I know who make sensible money playing live music in the UK are playing weddings, jazz or are in tribute bands.

So, giving away your recorded music as a way of getting more gigs makes far less sense in the UK than it does in the US. A lot of British bands get signed without having played even 15 or 20 gigs together. The standard model was to put together a band, play a few local shows, then try and get a ‘showcase’ at some shitty venue in Camden in order to ‘get signed’. (If you see footage of really early Coldplay, Stone Roses or Travis TV appearances, you’ll see what happens when a band doesn’t do the road work… painful…)

One possible answer to this is ‘well, tour abroad then!’ – which is a great suggestion, and one that some artists are able to take up. Sadly, the cost of being on the road away from home is ramped up that much higher than if you’re near friends and family that will put you up, so the chances of you making money at it are negligible. In fact, what you need in order to make money abroad are merch sales… including CDs…

As for UK artists touring in the US, that costs a HECK of a lot of money. Seriously big money. You need a major following at home, or a US record label to make it work, or to do what I do, which is to only do things that are sponsored by a European company and not get paid for gigs, but for ‘demos’ and trade shows like NAMM or bass-day events. That’s not an option for ‘bands’ or people who don’t have those kind of relationships with gear companies…

________________________________________

OK, that said, what’s the value of ‘free’ for us then, given that we need to make some money off this. A few observations on the current trends in ‘free’ music:

  • Radiohead didn’t ‘give away their album for free': no, what they did was use a low-ish resolution copy of most of the tracks from the album as a way of generating MASSIVE publicity for a normal CD release, but also monetized their obsessional fan-base by selling vinyl to people who don’t even own record players. They used the leverage they had from already being one of the world’s most successful bands to create MILLIONS of pounds worth of column inches and airtime in every conceivable media channel. The amount of money they ‘made’ from their venture HAS to have factored in the amount of money they SAVED that they would normally have spent on advertising, and the amount over and above any ad campaign they could ever afford that they got from the stunt.
  • Ditto Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor putting out an instrumental album is not a particularly ‘newsworthy’ event. Trent Reznor ‘reinventing the way bands market and sell their product’ is. The fact that it was a 5 album set of instrumental stuff is neither here nor there. Just like Radiohead, Trent leveraged and amplified the residual level of interest there was in him as an artist already associated with the zeitgeist, albeit one quite a few steps down the food chain from Radiohead in terms of mainstream public perception. So Trent made his own album newsworthy by coming up with a payment pyramid that again leveraged his obsessional fans’ commitment to the band by offering massively overpriced limited edition packages (back to scarcity as a selling point…) and making the price on the download so cheap that the teaser ‘free’ bit of it drew people in.
  • Both bands got huge exposure, but still relied on it being any good for word of mouth to sustain it or for the success of the record to spill over into live success – Neither made a loss on the music in order to promote gigs: I think in the final analysis, both bands will have made more money from these ‘upscaling’ adventures in progressive scarcity than in any previous album… but that’s a guess. We’ll see when the stats come in.
  • The bit of this that can be drawn out for a starting artist to use is the pyramid –
    • at the bottom is freely downloadable lower resolution partial release/live set/older material/live video compilation etc. that provides the curious with something that gets them involved in what you do. It gets clicking, it demands time and means they’re more likely to stay than click away.
    • Next up is ad-supported listening – napster/last.fm/rhapsody/reverb nation – you get a coupla cents for each play, but often they’ll show up on playlists or in tag clouds and you’ll reach people who might never have heard of you that way…
    • From there we have low priced download albums – higher res than the freebies, easy to get (either from your own site or via iTunes/eMusic/CDbaby/Amazon – those are the big four) and coming with extra tracks not in the free version, sleeve notes, photos, printable artwork etc… drawing people in…
    • Next up from there is CDs – the old faithful. Audiences still want something to take home! The value of CDs at gigs is massive. Feel free to do USB sticks/MP3 players/DVD discs/whatever as well, but good old fashioned CDs might be declining, but for the next few years, you’re going to make more money on gigs if you’ve got something physical to sell. A lot more if they’re any good!
    • Then we’re into the tip of the pyramid and what goes on here depends on your audience. Some possible options – 24bit audiophile downloads :: CD/tshirt/poster packages :: CD/DVD double packs :: boxed-sets of your entire catalogue :: street-team-only dinners :: fanclub only gigs :: weird freebies (food, stickers, domestic items relating to the name of the band or the artwork etc.) :: instructional material :: remixable files :: anything personalised…

Free is all about attention. Making product available for free is utterly VITAL in the current climate. However, there HAS to be a degree of subtlety and nuance in how it is applied, how you make it work, how you reach your audience, and how you move them on from the ‘gateway drug’ of free low-res MP3s to Class A merch-buying.

And on that note, you need some free stuff, so go Here and Here to download over 2 hours of free fabulous music!. Go on, you know you want to…

And if you’ve already done that and want some more, there’s The webshop here for CDs and other downloads. :o)

Tags: cool links · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Topping the Charts…

April 9th, 2008 · Comments Off on Topping the Charts…

Much to blog about, but real life getting in the way of cyber-time at the moment. All good (if you want to keep track of that stuff, sign up for Twitter and follow me.

Anyway, what is worth mentioning just now is that all the recent activity on my Reverb Nation page, with the free album and the mailing list migration, has sent me to the top of the Reverb Nation jazz charts!

It’s a little surprising, and largely to do with the fact that Reverb Nation, as yet, as precious little internal traffic, and I’m therefor doing a better job of actively sending traffic to my page than, say, Jamie Cullum or Will Calhoun, despite them in any measurable real terms being massively more successful than me. But I guess that’s the advantage of being a social media early adopter. :o)

Still, it is nice, and you can keep it going if you want to by downloading the free album on there after signing up for the mailing list! How cool is that – a completely free kick-ass album in exchange for an email address that I promise not to ever pass on to anyone else, and only to email you when I’ve got something useful to tell you…? Sounds great, I know. So, using the widget below, go get the freebies!


Steve%20LawsonQuantcast

Tags: cool links · Music News · Musing on Music · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

How to 'Stumble' without the Stumble Upon toolbar.

April 8th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Right, I’ve just made a ‘stumble this!’ toolbar link, for those of you that want to stumble stuff but don’t want to use Firefox or IE to get the stumbleupon tool bar –

Stumble This! – drag this link to your toolbar and you should be, as the americans say ‘Good to go’.

Please experiment with it by first logging into Stumble Upon, then coming back and stumbling a few of my blog pages. You can do this anyway without my wikkid new stumble button by clicking the Stumble Upon icon at the bottom of any post –

But this trick means you can stumble anything, from any browswer, not just by using embedded buttons or the SU toolbar – try it, it’s fab! (obviously, again, you have to be logged into Stumble Upon for it to work… oh, and don’t forget to marvel at my wikkid javascript skillz… :o)

Tags: cool links · Geek