Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Entries Tagged as 'Musing on Music'

Why I’ve Taken My Music Off Spotify…

December 16th, 2011 · 25 Comments

A few weeks back, Andrew Dubber and I recorded a podcast, in which we talked about Spotify. A lot. I outlined in that some of the reasons why I’m taking my music off the service, and now that I’ve finally got round to it, I’ll write about them too.

It’s become de rigueur for labels and artists to take their music off the service, citing the low payout per stream as their primary reason. That’s not my reason.

Neither is it to do with their often eff-up metadata or the lack of control over artist bios and weblinks (though all three of those are massive issues they need to address).

No, my argument is simply a fair trade one, not a ‘this is best for my career’ one. In fact, I think I’ll probably, to some degree, lessen the chances of some listeners finding me. I’ve made it harder for those who share Spotify links to their favourite music to share my music (though not physically much harder, given that ultimately Bandcamp links are way more useful, in that they’re cross-platform, don’t require an app, never play you ads and will even create embeddable players when you drop them into Facebook, with integral ‘download/buy’ links.)

No, I have two main complaints:

  • One, the service is at least part owned by the Major labels, who have a controlling say in how it all works, how the payments work, and who gets what.
  • Two, As far as I can see, Spotify have just attempted to stay inside the law with regards to artist/writer payments, involving protracted negotiations with the rights orgs. At no point have they, as far as I can tell, made any offer to musicians over and above the absolute minimum. The reason it’s ‘as far as I can see’ is that Spotify won’t tell anyone what they pay. Their payments are obscured, and they defer to the labels saying that artists only get paid by the labels and collection agencies anyway. It’s bollocks. If they are paying x-amount per stream to the PRS, we should be told that. If there’s any more that goes straight to the distributors/labels, we should be told that too. To claim it’s ‘commercially sensitive’ just means ‘we’ve done a deal with the Majors that makes indie artists look like goons, and we don’t want them to know’.

This may well be because, as this article claims, the majors have it rigged anyway. It’s certainly true that anyone paying Spotify to listen to my music is also funding the Major record labels. Labels that I hope will cease to exist before too long.

So, I’ve pulled my music off there. Being there was doing me no harm, I’m not expecting to see an upsurge in sales, though thanks to the total absence of tracking data, I’ve never been able to see whether anyone bought my music after hearing it on Spotify.

IF you have been listening to my music on Spotify up until now, please feel free to go and download it from– there’s loads more there than was ever on Spotify, with the correct titles and everything – it’s got artwork, sleevenotes, and your Spotify app will play it anyway once you’ve downloaded it. It just won’t be giving any money to the bastards who are trying to force insane legislation through the UK and US courts to ruin the internet.

(if at the time of reading you check Spotify and my music is still there, it just means they haven’t pulled it from their system yet. No need to tell me in the comments 🙂 ) 

Tags: Musing on Music · New Music Strategies

10,000 Jonis – Celebrate by Sharing.

November 7th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Today is Joni Mitchell’s birthday. She’s 68.

Joni has influenced my music perhaps more than any other single musician. She’s not a bassist and she doesn’t loop, but the connection her music makes, the way it draws you into the story, into her world, the feeling of almost too much access into the inner recesses of her mind, all wrapped in just the right music for each story, is exactly what I’ve tried to do. Her music is the gold standard. [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music

Why I Won’t be Installing the CDBaby Facebook Music Store

October 13th, 2011 · 2 Comments

A few days ago, CDBaby launched a Facebook Music Store, that integrates with Facebook pages, so you can sell your music there (assuming it’s also on CDBaby).

The store has its own tab and is basically an embedded version of your music page at CD baby. So people can buy CDs and downloads, with just a few quick clicks.

I’m not going to add it.

I’ll stick with Bandcamp.

Here’s why: [

Tags: Musing on Music

Tweet-Rant #2 : 23 Tweets About Bandcamp

August 1st, 2011 · 4 Comments

I had another tweet rant the other night, this time about Bandcamp, and some of the issues surrounding it. Here it is again, annotated with additional info about each tweet:

A couple of @bandcamp stats for you. The average price of a paid download of mine on bandcamp is £6.49 – for something available ‘free’.
10:02pm Jul 28th 2011

[that one’s self-explanatory – a quick conversion online shows me that £6.49 is currently $10.63] [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music · New Music Strategies

24 Tweets About Digital Music.

July 16th, 2011 · 6 Comments

Over the last few days, a lot of people have been talking about the arrival of Spotify in the US. I blogged a LOT about Spotify when it first arrived – and many of the same “it’s the future of music!/it’s the end of civilization as we know it!” conversations are happening now. So I posted a handful of tweets about it, which people liked, so I gathered them together into a single page with

Now I’m tidying them up here (fixing the wayward numbering in the process), and will maybe expand on them a little as time goes on. I’ve left the original links in place in case you want to retweet any of the tweets on Twitter… [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music · New Music Strategies

Some Musical Thoughts On 11 Reasons…

May 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Some Musical Thoughts On 11 Reasons…

Each of my albums tends to have a different vibe to it, which often manifests itself in the way I use the technology at hand to make it happen… So here’s a few thoughts on how the looping part of the album played out. Half of this was written on the plane on the way over here, the rest, just now. 🙂 Hit play now, so you can hear it while you’re reading… (and if you download it, you’ll also get the PDF that comes with it which has specific program notes for each track, as well as some further thoughts on the project as a whole)

It hadn’t really struck me until listening back to “11 Reasons” on the plane over here to the US that I’ve shifted away from ABAB form on this record.

Unlike on Behind Every Word (the title track and Scott Peck in particular), none of the tunes have a verse and a chorus. They all evolve and morph the way all my music did before I got the Looperlative.

What has changed to make possible this kind of ‘step forward into an old method’ is the degree of subtlety and complexity with which I can manipulate multiple unsynced loops of different lengths – there’s a LOT of that going on on this album, whether in the big ambient passages or while playing with multiple melodic lines and post processing them in real time (and, in some instances, adding some filter-delay afterwards – the privilege of having multiple outputs on the looperlative, and therefor being able to mix things quite specifically once they’ve been recorded). I’m also using more and more synced loops of different lengths (multiples of whatever the original loop is – Travelling North is a prime example)

It’s interesting for me to note this unconscious shift back to the evolutionary model rather than the more traditional “Lamarckist” jumping back and forth between distinct sections. Perhaps in noting the change, I’m setting myself up to do a project of highly complex multiple section loop tunes … you heard the rumour here first 🙂

Tags: Musing on Music

What Is Pop And Is It Dead?

November 9th, 2010 · 9 Comments

This post was inspired by an excellent blog-post by Paul Long in which he talks about ‘the end of pop’, and makes some comments about the risible state of pop music through the 90s…

What it doesn’t do (though he assures me it’s in the research that his post was excerpted from) is talk about the definitions and parameters of pop music, and whether or not the death of pop is as much a function of its limiting etymology as it is a profound cultural shift. [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music

Musicians Who Use Looping: A Beginner’s Guide.

October 31st, 2010 · 4 Comments

As you’re no doubt more than well aware, the whole process of real time looping is essential to the way I make music, whether it be live or in the studio, solo or collaborating – it’s a very long time since I last did a gig that didn’t have some element of looping in it. Certainly, one listen to my latest solo live album shows that – this is entirely live, there’s nothing added here, just the gig… (click the ‘buy’ button below to download the album and pay whatever you think it’s worth for it)

[Jan 2014 edit] And my latest project, FingerPainting is a duo (and sometimes a trio) that relies on multiple musicians looping at once and sometimes looping each other! Every note that Daniel Berkman and I have ever played together has been released – check it out in the sidebar there, or get all 10 shows for just £10 here.

The basic idea is this – a looper is an effect that allows the musician to record what they are playing and then loop it while they play over the top. Almost all looping devices allow you to do multiple layers on that loop, and some of them allow you to do fun things to the loop once it’s recorded – reverse it, slow it down, speed it up, stop it, restart it, remove some or all of the layers… [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music

6 Years Since The Death Of John Peel

October 25th, 2010 · 1 Comment

John Peel past away 6 years ago today.

I miss him more than any other person that I never met. I’ve written many, many times about the live-changing impact he had on me, growing up in Berwick Upon Tweed, pre-internet, starved of pretty much all other access to boundary-less music.

So to celebrate, here are a few albums I think you should hear – great music, by great people.

Honour the memory of John Peel by hearing something brand new today: [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music

Exploring Different Models For Creativity: Slow Food/Infrablab compared.

September 24th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Aside from the fact that I’m REALLY proud of the music on both albums, the biggest kick I’ve had out of the Slow Food/Infrablab project with Trip Wamsley has been the ability to so accurately contrast the differences and similarities in the methodology, practice and outcome of our music making.

Here they are, side by side, have a listen:

It’s rare that you get the indulgence of doing two records under identical technical constraints, as a ‘test case’ for those methodologies. Which made the experience of playing with Trip even more enjoyable than it would’ve been if we’d just been doing an album the old fashioned way with, y’know, written songs and shit… [Read more →]

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music