Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

Entries Tagged as 'New Music Strategies'

Why the ‘no platinum albums’ story in the US probably doesn’t mean the sky is falling.

October 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment

There’s one story that’s been circulating a lot over the last few days amongst musicians on social media“2014 is first year ever with ZERO platinum-certified records” – it tells us that 2014 is (barring some kind of unforseen massive sales surge) the first year ever (ever??? no.) when no single band has had a platinum selling record. In the US. Even though the Frozen soundtrack has sold 3 Million copies.

Meanwhile, 60 songs HAVE sold a million copies in the US.

So what does this tell us? Without some much deeper analysis, not much. [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies

How Much Do Artists Make On Bandcamp? Thoughts On Reaching A Milestone

January 4th, 2014 · Comments Off on How Much Do Artists Make On Bandcamp? Thoughts On Reaching A Milestone

So yesterday, we crossed the £10,000 mark on Bandcamp. That’s sales on my main Bandcamp account since Sept 2009. In reality, we crossed it a while ago, because there’s other money that we made when I had separate accounts on there for each project, and also the money that Lobelia has made, but this is the first time it’s actually displayed it on screen…

So before we get to the main bit of the blog – here’s a special £10K offer – all 10 FingerPainting albums to download for £10. Click here to buy[Read more →]

Tags: Music News · New Music Strategies

Best Of The Blog – 2013

December 31st, 2013 · Comments Off on Best Of The Blog – 2013

So, here are my favourites of my blog posts from 2013. Hope you find something useful in here:

Steve, Why Is Your Music So Cheap?

Being A Good Citizen Of The Internet:

Who Is Your Audience?

What Do Singles Sales Tell Us About The Health Of The Music Industries?

How To Talk About Music On The Internet:

“Conversational Hegemony” or, How Lobbyists Hijack The Terms Of Engagement:

Expanding Audio Orthodoxy: Recording/Mixing/Mastering

Twitter Brain Dump About The New Music Economy:

How To Send Bandcamp Download Codes Via Mailchimp:

Our Glorious Dilemma: How To Release A Huge Amount Of Music:

Tags: New Music Strategies

“Steve, Why Is Your Music So Cheap?”

December 4th, 2013 · Comments Off on “Steve, Why Is Your Music So Cheap?”

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. 

Tags: New Music Strategies

Best Of The FingerPainting Sessions Vol 1 and 2 Out Now

November 25th, 2013 · 1 Comment


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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Tags: Music News · New Music Strategies

Give The Gift Of Bandcamp!

November 23rd, 2013 · Comments Off on Give The Gift Of Bandcamp!


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, pick a favourite album and send it to a friend. They get music, we get paid, you get karma.


Tags: New Music Strategies

Being a Good Citizen Of The Internet: What Would The Internet Be Like If Everyone Behaved Like Me?

October 9th, 2013 · 2 Comments

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).

photo by timag on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

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 →]

Tags: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies

Reconsidering Charts – Listening vs Shopping

October 6th, 2013 · 1 Comment

One of the first social networks I ever joined was – 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 →]

Tags: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies

Who Is Your Audience?

September 30th, 2013 · 2 Comments

As some of you know, I’ve recently started teaching in the music department at Kidderminster College. It’s a fabulous opportunity, as I get to spend every tuesday working with bassists (and a violinist!) in the mornings and on social media with a load of mainly singer/songwriters in the afternoon. Yeah, two of my favourite things, in one day. Lucky me!

So last week, I set the afternoon students the task of thinking – and blogging – about who their social media audience is:

  • Who do you know reads what you write?
  • Who do you imagine is reading it when you write it (who are writing to)
  • Who else may end up reading it?
  • Who would you most like to have reading it?
  • How do these considerations affect how and what you post (be it original words/pictures/video/music or shared stuff from around the web)

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Tags: Kidderminster College Stuff · New Music Strategies

What Do Singles Sales Tell Us About The Health Of The Music Industries?

August 13th, 2013 · Comments Off on What Do Singles Sales Tell Us About The Health Of The Music Industries?

Here’s an interesting data set – a list of the best selling singles ever, divided into physical and digital. It lists anything with ‘verified’ sales of above 5 million (though those numbers are often rightly questioned because of the way that ‘sales’ are reported – there are 185 references at the bottom of the wiki page 🙂 )…

One of the interesting bits for me is the time span of each era – the physical sales cover 1935 (Bing Crosby, Silent Night: 30 million sales – at a time when it must’ve been owned by pretty much everyone on the planet that had a record player, was before albums existed, probably sold even more copies as sheet music and was a song in the public domain!) through to 2004 (Green Day’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams: 7 million physical copies, of a track that was also on an album that sold 15 million too.) So that’s a 69 year span, with 128 singles selling more than 5 million copies. It’s worth keeping in mind what percentage of the records released those were (how many records had even been made, let alone were stocked in shops, by the end of the 40s/50s/60s etc…)

The digital list covers 2004-2012 (8 years), and has 104 singles selling more than 5 million copies. All of which also appeared on (numerous) albums, were licensed for films/games, earned some money for streaming/youtube/other usage, and were no doubt torrented extensively. But, crucially, none of them required any plastic discs to be made and shipped around the world. No shops to stock them, no trucks to carry them across the country… So in terms of where the money went, far less of the gross revenue needed to go on the fixed cost of physical manufacture and distribution of a scarce good.  [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies