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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Web Stats for musicians: Lies, Damned Lies and Google Analytics.

March 17th, 2010 · 14 Comments

So, you’ve taken the advice and started blogging. You’ve put your music up on Bandcamp for ‘pay what you want’ download. You’re chatting to your audience, friends and fellow musicians on Twitter and Facebook. Now you want to be able to measure how much impact all this stuff is having, right?

Almost all web-hosting comes with some kind of statistics option for tracking how many people are visiting your website, and what they are doing. The most widely used 3rd party option is Google Analytics, which is available to be added to any website (and particularly easily integrates with publishing packages like WordPress and Moveable Type). [Read more →]

Tags: Geek · tips for musicians

Share and Share Alike.

November 19th, 2009 · 15 Comments

A wise man once said, ‘do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.’ Advice that works incredibly well online.

In my wanderings round the web, I’m seeing two very distinct groups of musicians.

  • Those who are part of a sharing/discovery/recommendation culture, and
  • Those who are (often incessantly) requesting help from that culture, but not demonstrating any willingness to be a part of it.

Not surprisingly, they don’t tend to get much spill-over outside of the people who are already their fans. [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Posterous: Blogging For Everyone Else

October 26th, 2009 · 7 Comments

OK, so the thought of maintaining a blog full of pontifications on the state of the world, the web, music, whatever is a bit daunting. The self-imposed expectation that there needs to be loads of amazing stuff to read about on your awesome blog is just too much…

…So what do we do? Clearly, the web these days – and in particular, music on the web – is ALL about sharing. Without sharing, we’re all screwed.

Enter Posterous – it’s a blogging platform that’s been around for a while, but seems to be really gaining in traction of late for a whole host of reasons. I’m going to focus on what an awesome service it is for embedding, and posting links to, things you really like online. [Read more →]

Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

My Weird Life, or ‘How I Ended Up Fixing a Bus For the Civil Service’

July 16th, 2009 · Comments Off

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed over the last week or two that the ratio of ‘music’ to ‘non-music’ tweets has tipped hugely in favour of ‘non…’.

Thanks to my involvement in the Amplified project, I’ve been to a range of different events, talking about social media, capturing conversations around those events and writing it up afterwards. [Read more →]

Tags: Geek · Random Catchup

Open Letter To The UK Jazz Community Pt V – Blogging.

May 11th, 2009 · Comments Off

photo of Corey Mwamba at the BarbicanAt the end of Pt IV, I said that band leaders could consider not hiring musicians who don’t blog to help promote the music. A few of you didn’t like that idea, suggesting that it’s all about the music, and why should someone have to be a writer in order to play music?

To which my answer is twofold:

  • Firstly, I did say ‘it’s not a hard and fast rule – you don’t want to, you don’t have to. But…
  • Secondly, you don’t have to be a writer to have a blog. You just have to want to tell people about cool stuff that’s going on around you. Some of the best blogs are a collection of really short posts – they’re a little bit of information, and some kind of embedded media. If you feel inspired to elaborate, or to write in the kind of long form article-based way that I do, that’s great, but that’s not why musicians should be blogging.

[Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Open Letter to the UK Jazz Community Pt IV – No More Sidemen!

April 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off

photo of Steve Lawson and Michael Manring on stage together at the Brookdale LodgeAnother thing I touched on in part II was the issue of ‘sidemen’ who have no sense of ownership of a project. This is a big problem when a large part of the cost of any particular gig is paying the musicians. If only one of you is doing the work to get an audience, but four of you are getting paid for playing the gig, something’s wrong.

So, my suggestion is that band leaders need to stop thinking in terms of ‘sidemen’ when booking players – stop hiring people just to play on the gig. This works well all round – when we start thinking like this, we end up having the opportunity to bring a whole lot more to a gig than just playing – we bring with us an audience, some marketing ideas and a whole load of enthusiasm. [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

wordle wisdom (stevelawson.net word-cloud)

February 16th, 2009 · Comments Off

As part of a social media/blogging/online presence lesson with a student of mine this morning, I got him to generate a wordle word-cloud of the things he was interested in, to feature on his ‘about me’ page.

Which got me thinking, so I put in the URL to this site, and here’s the wordle it produced:

Wordle word-cloud of stevelawson.net

…could there be a finer group of words for a musician/geek/blogger/me-type-person to be associated with?

WIN!

Have you made a wordle for your site? If you do, and you add it to their gallery, feel free to post the link below…

Tags: Geek · Random Catchup

2008 in review II – Nokia OpenLab blogging and my writing elsewhere…

January 9th, 2009 · Comments Off

Nokia Open Lab attendees photoOne of the highlights of my year was the great weekend I got to spend in Helsinki as part of the Nokia Open Lab 08. It was a weekend in which social media practitioners – most with an emphasis on mobile usage – brought together for a series of discussions, workshops and presentations on the future of mobile social media, with a focus on Nokia’s hardware, obviously.

I met some amazing people there, many of whom have become really good friends over the ensuing months (particularly Phil Campbell and Ilicco Elia).

When I got back, I wrote a series of blog posts, encapsulating a lot of the things that the weekend covered, and my thoughts on them. Looking back on them now, I’m really grateful for the brain-food I got over the weekend.

Here they are:

There were a couple of other big writing things I got up to online (as well as my column in Bass Guitar Magazine, which ended this year after a couple of years…) - I was invited to write for a blog on a government website called Creative Choices which aside from being an appallingly badly designed site (front and back end), was a great project to be a part of given that I had the remit to write about the creative life, and got paid for it! Here’s a link to all my posts there.

The other site I’ve been writing for is an ongoing project, writing for MusicThinkTank.com – as you’ll see if you look at the list of my co-authors over there, I’m in insanely good company writing for them, sharing the web space with some of the best thinkers I’ve ever come across.

I’ve posted a couple of articles to MTT in the last few weeks – this one I posted today:

And this one was in December:

The rest of my writing there can be found here.

It was an amazing year for me, geek-wise. Will come back to that in more detail soon!

Tags: Geek · journalism · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

2008 in review – Blog posts for musicians, Pt 1

December 31st, 2008 · 1 Comment

Photo by Christian Payne AKA DocumentallyIt’s been an amazing year for me – a proper round-up of the year will be coming soon. But I thought that first I’d pull together some of the things I’ve blogged about this year. So this is part 1 of a compilation of links to my blog posts for musicians this year -

Back in May/June, I did a series of posts about Social Media for Musicians:

…ah, clearly i didn’t finish that last one… :)

Then in July, I did a series on my thoughts on bass teaching, and music teaching in general:

These had some really great comments off the back of them…

And here, in roughly chronological order, are my favourite posts from Jan – August:

There you go, that lot would make a pretty good e-book, if I ever get round to editing out the typos, and shortening some of my more overly-verbose entries :)

Next entry will cover Sept – Dec, and then the rest of what’s happened this year! If I don’t get to it til tomorrow, have a great new year, see you in ’09!

If you particularly like any of the posts, please share the links around, either via the ‘share this’ option below, or just by forwarding the URL to people who think might like to read them.

Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies · site updates · tips for musicians

Myspace friend-cull. Who, How, Why.

November 23rd, 2008 · Comments Off

Steve Lawson's myspace friends.I’ve just spent a most enjoyable few hours of the last couple of days removing over 90% of my Myspace ‘Friends’. By ‘removing’, I just mean from my list of myspace friends, not anything more sinister!

My reasoning was fairly simple – with just over 8000 friends, I was finding Myspace to be completely unusable. I wasn’t getting a play-count that suggested any sizable number of those friends were checking back in to see me, and the same went for blog-views. The way that Myspace’s interface is set up, it’s pretty much impossible to sort by region and send targeted messages (there is that option in the event invite, it just doesn’t work as they neither require location info from people signing up, nor do they make it clear why it would be useful. Even then, you still have to add people one by one.

If you’ve got over 5000 friends you can’t get a list of who’s online, or search within your contacts and there’s no sensible way of grouping them (yes, they’ve just added categories, no, they don’t really offer the kind of granularity of data that I’d want).

Basically, the myspace platform is a distaster. So why stick with it?

Well, let’s have a look at what Myspace has going for it:

#1: Ubiquity.
#2: ….

Uhm, that’s it. Pretty much. But it’s a biggie. Lots of people unfamiliar with the rest of the internets still use Myspace to find music. Promoters often use it as their first port of call when looking at a band as a potential booking (goodness only knows why), and there are just millions and millions of people on there who think of it as a music site.

So I’m going to try and make the best of it. I’ve started by removing everyone I don’t know, don’t recognise, and don’t remember having had any proper communication with, as well as all the huge bands I’m a fan of but never talk to. In the process of doing it, I’ve almost certainly deleted a load of actual fans, some of whom probably had me in their top friends list. Hopefully, they’ll come and find me, add me again, and we’ll have a chat we otherwise wouldn’t have had. If not, it means they haven’t noticed, or don’t care, and that’s not a problem either.

Now, when I look at my friends list, I have context for all of them. I want to talk to them, message them, read about them. Myspace is going social in this house. And I’m not accepting any friend requests from anyone who doesn’t send me a message with it.

Lobelia did the Myspace mass-delete about a year ago, and saw no drop-off in the number of plays she was getting. She just stayed in touch with more people. So I’m copying her. :)

If you do want to add me on myspace please click here and do so.

And if we’re already friends over there, check out the blog post and all the comments over there too.

Tags: Managing Information Streams · Musing on Music · tips for musicians