stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



perception trumps design – why Myspace still works…

March 6th, 2008 · 2 Comments

A few thoughts that sprung from a comment response here and a twitter conversation, re: the myspace vs facebook thing.

One of the problems with being a webgeek is that it’s easy to forget to think how Webphobic digital-dabblers engage with the web. They often choose an ecosystem that feels homely, one that while not being particularly functional is self contained and looks like the scenery for a kids TV show. I can’t believe that any self respecting web-user would still be using the AOL interface, but it happens. And we-the-geeks have to learn to work within that first and foremost.

Re-educating people about the clunkiness of Myspace is a very different task from effectively and productively engaging with your audience. And for a huge part of the music-finding web-audience, Myspace is comfortable. It’s homely, familiar and doesn’t feel like a geek-domain in which webtards are a nuisance. It looks like it was designed as a school project, so no-one feels patronised by it. For a really significant majority of people looking for your music online perception trumps design – telling them that Myspace is clunky, horrible to use, slow to load, unmanageable in terms of effectively sending out mass mailings etc. doesn’t change the simple fact that they are happy there.

As my previous post about this said, Facebook is almost exclusively a friend-interaction ecosystem. Myspace is far more of a discovery one. Yes, it’s rubbish, yes facebook looks better, yes Reverbnation still has a far better feature set and interface than either of them for actually digging up great music without getting spammed or having a pumpkin thrown at you or being bitten by a werewolf, but within each one, we need to adapt, to understand and to engage. Yes, we can continue to educate people, and to request better integration and implementation from the various sites (Myspace’s new API for developers is a HUGE leap forward… let’s see how much of it is useless spamming BS when the apps go live), but if you’re in the business of making music and connecting with an audience, educating digital toe-dippers has diminishing returns as a primary method of engagement.

Make Myspace work for you by interacting with people who express an interest in discovering new music, keep your friends list manageable, send regular friendly bulletins, use the blog and the status update, and if your friend list is small enough, the event invite (though I’ve found in my experience that the response to bulletins is close enough to being as high as it is for event invites as to be not worth the extra effort to send the event invite…) and use the status updates to keep people clicking through to your page.

And use facebook to connect with your friends and to supply them with the social capital to look cool because they know you – Facebook’s primary virgin market for musicians is friends of friends – your friends post your music on their page, and their friends listen because someone they trust digs it. It’s a pretty simple equation, and a pretty effective strategy in terms of quality engagement with people predisposed to wanting to like what you do.

So don’t get so hung up on telling people that they are losers for liking myspace, just accept that they do, and talk to them there. Just avoid spam like the plague, it’s so flippin’ obvious on Myspace, it stands out like a dog turd on a dinner plate. Better quality interaction with fewer people.

All of this changes when you reach 50,000 people that have added you and engaged with you, when 10,000 of those have comments, and you’re regularly topping 3000 plays a day. Then we can start to talk about the percentages involved in sending out blanket mailing and trying to get actual email addresses from those people to connect with outside of myspace. Til then, it’s one potential TRUE fan at a time.

Remember, no-one owes you anything, no-one is compelled to engage with your music, or assume that it’s any more important than what any of the other millions of musicians out there do. And a lot of them won’t like what you do, for perfectly valid reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you are in any measurable way. So we keep putting it out there, inviting them in, rewarding their engagement, providing social capital and resources to gain cache and kudos from having engaged with us, and just making some friends! I’ve found that the vast majority of the people who dig what I do are people I like. Not in a sycophantic ‘hey I love you for buying my music’, but just that the music that soundtracks my life (my music) is likely to appeal to people who share a few of the values and perceptions that I have. I’ve made friends with so many people whose first point of contact was a gig or masterclass or CD of mine, it’s great, and a vital part of my life right now.

…I also have great friends who really couldn’t care less about my music, and are equally valuable for that reason, but that’s a whole other blog post…

So obviously, if you want to connect with me, feel free to do so on twitter , myspace or facebook.

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

stevelawson.net vs aol.com

June 12th, 2006 · 2 Comments

no, I’m not setting up a rival international ISP with crap interface and ‘keywords’. the ‘vs’ in the heading refers to my not being able to email anyone with an aol.com or aim.com email address. This is almost certainly because both my stevelawson.net and steve-lawson.co.uk domains have been spoofed by some spamming wankers using them to send out god-knows-what, and after a certain number of spam emails received by aol users, they’ve just blacklisted the domain names. I think…

So I’ve emailed their customer services (or rather, got someone else to email their customer services, as they have an aol address so wouldn’t have got it!!!) and asked them to unblock my main email addresses (steve@ each of the domain names).

But for now, if you’re an AOL/AIM user, if you have an alternative email address, please include it when emailing me. If you’ve emailed me recently and were expecting a reply that hasn’t arrived, it may well be that I sent it and it was eaten by the AOL blacklist…

Tags: Geek

Live 8 videos for download

July 9th, 2005 · Comments Off on Live 8 videos for download

this site has nearly all the Live 8 songs for individual download.

Here are the three Bruce Cockburn tracks –

If I Had A Rocket Launcher
Call It Democracy
Waiting For A Miracle

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Bruce Cockburn at Toronto Live 8

July 4th, 2005 · Comments Off on Bruce Cockburn at Toronto Live 8

Finally – been looking for this all day, waiting for it to come round on the AOL stream of the Toronto Live 8 gig.

He started with ‘If I Had A Rocket Launcher’, then went into ‘Call It Democracy’, followed by a fantastic lil’ speech, into ‘Waiting For A Miracle’.

His speech bit started with him mentioning that so much of the nay-saying about dropping debts and providing aid revolves around discussion of corrupt despotic leaders,

“Those corrupt leaders have been historically propped up in the position they’re in by the same countries, the G8 countries, that we’re addressing today, so now is the time to make ourselves heard,”

Anyway, here’s the lyrics to ‘Call It Democracy’ – an hymn to the death of the IMF, if ever there was one. It would’ve been great to have Bruce in London singing this as the centre-piece to the whole gig. Ah well.

Call It Democracy – Bruce Cockburn

Padded with power here they come
International loan sharks backed by the guns
Of market hungry military profiteers
Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
With the blood of the poor

Who rob life of its quality
Who render rage a necessity
By turning countries into labour camps
Modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

Sinister cynical instrument
Who makes the gun into a sacrament —
The only response to the deification
Of tyranny by so-called “developed” nations’
Idolatry of ideology

North South East West
Kill the best and buy the rest
It’s just spend a buck to make a buck
You don’t really give a flying fuck
About the people in misery

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there’s one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

See the paid-off local bottom feeders
Passing themselves off as leaders
Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
Open for business like a cheap bordello

And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy
And they call it democracy

See the loaded eyes of the children too
Trying to make the best of it the way kids do
One day you’re going to rise from your habitual feast
To find yourself staring down the throat of the beast
They call the revolution

IMF dirty MF
Takes away everything it can get
Always making certain that there’s one thing left
Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt
Notes

Commenting on the song, written in the early 80s, at a gig in 2000, Bruce said:

“That song came from the time of neo-conservatism, when governments supported business at the cost of lives and nobody gave a shit. We have since moved on to neo-liberalism, when governments support business at the cost of lives and nobody gives a shit; and I see we’re moving on to neo-feudalism, that’s the service economy coming at you. We will all serve. I’m not quite sure who we’re serving. There’s a sort of mystery there; are we serving Bill Gates? I think not, he’s too visible. Somebody else? Maybe you’re sitting right here (in the audience). Are you out there? Fuck off, if you are. (positive audience response) And if you’re not, well we missed a grand opportunity to level with each other.”

If you want to get the song, it was originally on World Of Wonders, was also on Bruce’s late-80s best-of ‘Waiting For A Miracle’, but my favourite version is on his late-80s live album, just called ‘Bruce Cockburn Live’, on Cooking Vinyl.

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A fine review of Live8

July 4th, 2005 · Comments Off on A fine review of Live8

from Alexis Petridis in the Guardian – for a jaded old cynic like Alexis, this is very good indeed.

However, one correction, from the video footage. Alexis wrote –

“Martin leaves the stage with an announcement about the importance of the film that’s about to follow. The video screens immediately show jowly old Duran Duran at the Rome concert. Either there’s been a technical error, or the gravity of the occasion has sent Martin bonkers.”

I’ve just watched the Coldplay set on AOL streamed archive of the gig, and it went from Coldplay to a video about the G8, just as Chris Martin intimated. The Duran clip came after Elton’s duet with Pete Doherty (which wasn’t half as bad as I expected, but maybe I’ve just got low expectations of the hyped-up-talentless-smack-head (that’s Pete, not Elton – Elton’s a pub-singer).

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Edinburgh MPH March/Live8

July 4th, 2005 · Comments Off on Edinburgh MPH March/Live8

So, despite it being Wimbledon finals weekend, I didn’t see a stroke of tennis played… But for good reason.

On Friday I drove up to Berwick–On-Tweed (the Lawson ancestral home), in order to go up to Edinburgh on Saturday for the Make Poverty History March and rally, arranged to coincide with the G8 summit meeting in Gleneagles this week.

Estimates on the attendance at Edinburgh vary working upwards from about 200,000, but that’s the figure for Fringe Sunday in August, and this was WAYYYY more crowded than Fringe Sunday.

The march itself was just huge – for a lot of people, they were waiting for almost three hours just to get out of The Meadows (that is, a secret location, known only as ‘the meadows’). The atmosphere was fabulous, though the food was a bit crap for veggies (I’ve got too used to ‘london food’). The first people to set off on the march were back at the start by one o’clock so the continuous white band lasted for a good few hours.

The talk from the stage was largely good – Billy Bragg was on form as always – talking not playing (at least not that I heard, sadly), Jonathan Dimbleby was marvellous. Some twat from the Church Of Scotland was congratulating Gordon Brown on all he’s done so far… hello? Done what exactly? Announced a supposed debt relief package so tied to IMF trade and services liberalisations that it’s virtually worthless? FFS, stop pandering to these goons – they’ve done just about nothing as yet, the situation is still brutally inequitous, and so far Gordon Brown has done pretty much sweet FA.

Anyway, the rest of the talk was good.

We got back into Berwick, and in front of a TV at the time The Killers were on at Live8, who made no impression whatsoever. The evening was definitely all about the old guys showing the youngsters how it was done – Floyd, Robbie, The Who and Macca all rocked the party that rocks the party, while the Scissor Sisters were dull, Velvet Revolver were shit-on-a-stick, Joss Stone and Mariah both did well and Peter Kay was the only Accapella singer of the day and lost the americans royally.

I was struck by how little comment was being made about the cause, both between bands, and by the bands. Now that I’m watching the AOL online feed of the show, I see just how much the BBC had edited out in the name of impartiality. Good God, I hope I never rely on the BBC’s impartiality to save my life from rapacious world trade laws. How can you be impartial on this? Grrrrrrrr.

So all in all, a monumental event – the biggest ever public protest in Scotland, the biggest ever worldwide TV audience for a show, millions and millions of people signing up th the MPH campaign. Surely this will send a message to the tossers in the G8 that things need to change?….

…apparently not, that arch-enemy of freedom, democracy and all things decent, George Bush, has announced that there’ll be no climate change deal in the G8 – you know, right now, I’m wishing someone would blow up Gleneagles. I know something of how Bruce Cockburn felt when he wrote ‘If I Had A Rocket Launcher’, with it’s censor-baiting line, ‘if I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die’ – why does the G8 even exist? The idea that there is a coalition of the wealthy deciding the mortal future of over half the planet is disgusting. That fuckers like George Bush would come into the meeting saying he’ll be doing what’s best for the US only…

From the bbc news site
‘But he rejected the idea he should support the British prime minister’s G8 plan in return for his support during the war in Iraq.

“Tony Blair made decisions on what he thought was best for keeping the peace and winning the war on terror, as I did,” he told the programme.

“So I go to the G8 not really trying to make him look bad or good, but I go to the G8 with an agenda that I think is best for our country.” ‘

He’s an evil, pernicious, twisted blight on the planet, and anyone who voted for him should be seriously ashamed of themselves. There is a political will within sections of the G8 to improve on these issues but while Bush, under the influence of his PNAC cronies, undermines anything that makes the rich accountable, that makes the rich empire-building countries of Europe and North America feel any sense of responsibility for the fuck-up that is modern day African economics. The most resource-rich continent on earth is its poorest. It makes me cry.

If the G8 don’t listen, who’s in for a revolution?

Soundtrack – The AOL Live8 stream.

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Can't get started.

April 4th, 2005 · Comments Off on Can't get started.

Just got back (well, ‘just’ meaning late Saturday night) from a lovely week in the south of france. Enjoyable holiday, and a chance to brush up on my v. rusty french. Really ought to go there more.

The problem with holidays is getting started again when you get back. It’s especially tricky this time as on Saturday afternoon, just before we got the plane back, I tripped over on Nice beach, grazed my shin and have strained the muscles in my arms and shoulders. So I’m aching lots, and tired from the journey, and out of sync with what I was doing before I went away.

Sunday was a Soul Space service at St Luke’s, which was lots of fun – more ambient noodling, which is always a creative pursuit. Ambient church services are a great place for trying stuff out like that as it gives that elusive musical element – context. Playing ambient music in my stupidly untidy office is pretty tough, so I need to tap into other things to inspire whatever I’m working on. In a space like the chancel at St Luke’s, with cool projections, low lighting, candles and a theme (this week was the road to Emmaus), there’s something to play for, something to soundtrack, something to be inspired by. I had planned to record it, but the lead that connects my mixing desk to the minidisc player was needed to plug a laptop into my set up in order to play a couple of tracks off CD.

So now I’m trying to get working. I’ve got normal stuff to do, like buying birthday cards (seems almost everyone I know was born in April), and some food shopping, as well as things to do with next week’s gigs and other stuff.

WAKE UP STEVE!!

SoundtrackSteve Lucas, ‘Gamma Jazz’; Muriel Anderson, ‘Heart Strings’; Andrew Cronshaw, ‘Ochre’.

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