stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



website and blog music-player updates…

February 16th, 2008 · 3 Comments

OK, I’ve just added new last.fm music players to both the website frontpage and here on the blog – they’re over on the left hand side there, beneath the links. The main difference between the two is that the one on my site autostarts, the one on the blog doesn’t – I’m guessing that the majority of the visitors to the blog are here to read stuff, not necessarily listen to music, whereas visitors to the stevelawson.net homepage are far more likely to be wanting to hear something straight away. (feel free to discuss the relative merits of autostart music in the comments below – I’m open to persuasion either way. I’m definitely not putting it on on the blog – there are a couple of blogs I just never visit any more because they have music players on them that play all kinds of nonsense that I don’t really want to hear…)

The decision to go with the last.fm embeddable thingie over the reverbnation one was simply that the last.fm one was portrait and the reverbnation ones are all landscape, but not landscape enough for them to work in the main body of my site – if they did one that was 500px wide and about 80px high, I’d have probably gone for that on the website front page, but just wanted something a little tidier.

So, have a listen! Go on, you know you want to. If you do want to listen to the stuff that’s on the reverb nation page, you can do so with the player below – there are a few live things on there that are unavailable anywhere else…

Do those of you that have music pages use any other embedded widgets? Do tell…



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Tags: Uncategorized

A quick thought on youtube piggy-backing…

February 14th, 2008 · Comments Off on A quick thought on youtube piggy-backing…

It’s the middle of the night, so I’m going to make this quick as I really ought to be asleep, but I was just re-reading my post from earlier, and realised in didn’t get back to talking about the cover versions thing.

Firstly, the marvel that is Cdbaby report that the artists selling most on their download service are those recording cover tunes – you pick up custom from people looking for the real song, and finding yours by accident.

This happens LOADS on youtube. There are DREADFUL versions of songs – one drunk dude with an acoustic guitar and a toy camera playing oasis songs – that have had thousands of views. I’m guessing most of those views were about 6 seconds long, but that’s because he couldn’t hold their attention (which after all is the currency in the new economy). But, if you have good cover tunes on youtube, you can piggyback the searches for the person who did the song first time round.

(as an aside, it would be great if Youtube allowed for the uploading of publishing details for songs on youtube, and did a revenue sharing deal with the WRITERS of the songs that get used in such a way… It’s all publicity for the ‘real’ song, but it would seem fair to pay mechanicals on the videos…)

anyway, so much of life online is about piggybacking, but it’s worth giving some thought to the difference between piggybacking and hijacking – if what you’re doing impinges on what someone else is trying to do, that’s hijacking (for example, posting inane non-comments onto people’s myspace pages advertising your gigs, without any reference to them – the online equiv. of shiny colourful junkmail, and a right pain in the arse). Joining in with a thread on a forum about something related to what you’re doing, and posting links as an example would be a more netiquettish way of piggybacking. (of for that matter, posting a myspace comment inviting a particular person to a particular gig, and actually referring to them by name… what a suggestion…)

Anyway, worth thinking about with youtube – there are all kinds of options, including commenting, posting video responses, cover tunes, intelligent tagging of videos and of course the extra-youtube dissemination of info about the vids on forums, myspace, blogs etc…

damn, this was longer than I’d planned – time to sleep…

in the mean time, watch this –

(BTW, I ended yesterday as the 70th most viewed musician on the whole of myspace for the day – that sounds quite good, doesn’t it?)

Tags: Musing on Music · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Two jobs in one – the perils of being artist and label.

February 2nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Two jobs in one – the perils of being artist and label.

OK, for one moment, I’m going to think about what record companies did well when they were functioning (very few people that I know who were ever signed to labels had this experience, but it’s what in an ideal world labels offered artists):

1. A Label Let an Artist be An Artist – those of you reading this who are trying to run your careers as booking agent, publicist, record label, distributor, web master, etc. will know that the most scarce commodity in the midst of all that isn’t money, it’s time. Money’s hard to come by too, but the reason for the lack of money is a lack of time to do things properly, not the other way round. And what’s the first thing that disappears in this new multi-tasking time-economy? Creativity time.

Why is that? Because it’s very difficult to be unfettered in your creativity but it’s pretty much vital if your music is to really mean anything. If you’ve just been designing posters, on the phone trying to book shows (usually targeting a particular kind of venue), and on MySpace dealing with add-requests, comments and feedback, sitting down with your instrument and trying to empty your mind of all that nonsense and JUST PLAY is damned near impossible. It takes time to create that kind of headspace, and it takes frustrating hours of working all the hackneyed tired cliched nonsense out of your system before the magic starts to flow. In terms of pure instrumental technique, if your music is in any way challenging, it may require a whole load of ‘maintenance’ before you’re in any position to really get ‘in the zone’.

A functioning label gives you time to do that. Just imagine if you even had a web administrator, how much extra time you’d have to practice? Imagine if someone else was dealing with your press, how much less you’d be thinking about labeling what you do, about niche marketing, about whatever – that’s the stuff that labels are supposed to do, while we’re busy creating genre-busting epoch-defining life-changing music.

2. They allow us to get our creative priorities straight – one thing I decided very early on in my career – and that I still say out loud to other people as often as I can just to remind myself of it – is that my number one aim in making a record is to make the record that I want to hear, that soundtracks the world as I see it. AND THEN – once it’s done – start thinking about the best way to market it. Music that sounds like it’s been dreamt up by marketeers is horrible. No-one wants to be listening to music that’s been decided on by a committee. Actually, that’s not strictly true – a heck of a lot of music that sounds like that sells a lot, but doesn’t really have that much significance in the lives of the people who buy it and then forget about it.

No, we should be making the music we love. That doesn’t mean that outside influence isn’t important – it can be vital to stop us from becoming completely self-indulgent, or lost in our own creative mire. What it means is that the influence has to be from people who know what we’re trying to do, people who’ve earned the right to critique it by understanding what the end result is trying to be. I get less of them now, but I used to get a lot of emails from bass players telling me that I should write more uptempo music, to which my response was usually ‘No, YOU should write more uptempo music, cos it’s you that wants to hear it!’ – the assumption that I’m some kind of music producing automaton trying to meet the listening requirements of a bunch of faceless bass-monkeys sat at their computers across the world critiquing what everyone else does is utter bollocks. With the best will in the world, I’m really not interested in the opinions of people who have no idea why I do what I do.

I have a very valuable ‘council of reference’ – a range of musicians, listeners, fans, friends and people who have proved that they ‘get’ what I do – not by being super-fans, but by demonstrating an understanding of where I’m coming from. Record Label people are very rarely qualified to understand that stuff – not always, but almost everyone I’ve ever met who had record company interference in their project has ended up being deeply unhappy with it. Even some records that I love are the product of undue RC influence, and I can only imagine how great the record would have been if the artist had been able to choose their own sounding boards.

Here’s one of the bits of the entertainment industry-end of the Record business that is most horrible and that we don’t distance ourself from enough – that a label’s job is to sign ‘raw talent’ and then manage the career of the artist, handing them a producer, band, designer, etc. etc. etc. and then paying them a pittance for the privilege.

What would be a far more useful and productive way to operate if we’re interested in letting musicians be the ones who make music would be to look for the music that is already there. If musicians and writers forged relationships with producers, arrangers and ideas people for creative reasons rather than having those people foisted on them by labels as a matter of expediency, labels could concentrate on finding great music that they have a hunch they know how to market, and producers could be shopping for work based on creative understanding…

3. Labels built a reputation based on quality within a field – are there any labels that you trust? Chances are if you’re into old school jazz, there are quite a few records on Prestige, Blue Note and Verve in your collection. If you’re into more modern progressive jazz, ECM and Nonsuch may feature more highly. For free music, Cryptogramaphone may be up there. For extreme metal see Earache and Metal Blade, neo prog see Magna Carta… Do all the artists on ECM sound the same? Not at all. There are actually a few different ‘ECM sounds’, but there’s definitely a feeling of quality, and as a listener you kinda know that some thought has gone into the stuff that gets signed. Labels at their best are enthusiasts as much as they are business people. Why? All the business planning in the world can’t pick our exciting music. Great music is great music is great music – finding it is step one, working out how to market it is step two. Get those two round the wrong way and you’re screwed. Any deal that gets a so-so artist and tries to drop them into a marketing formula is back to front.

The problem with all this in terms of discerning what’s important is that getting it very wrong can be very profitable. I’m not talking about what’s ‘successful’ on a business level here. I don’t think that’s what being an artist is about. It’s important, but it’s ancillary to the job of creating great music. A good label lets musicians make music. A good manager does the liason, and anyone worth their salt will delegate the stuff they can’t do. Most of my headaches in negotiating my way through the future-is-now new media revolution are from trying to keep my creative energy at the forefront of what I do. I’m deeply passionate about finding new ways to market what I do, to communicate, to monetize, to get the music out there, but the music has to be what it is, not an attempt to second-guess an imagined potential market. That’s bound to fail.

This imaginary great label all in an ideal world. It didn’t happen much before. It happens even less now. So why bother writing about it? Because all those things still need to happen – you still need time to make music, you still need to think about how to market it, you need to find your audience, you need to build credibility with the people who are spending money on what you do. All those things that good labels have built in, YOU STILL NEED THEM. They’re just harder to find.

What we need to do is to abstract them as principles for making art happen then making it available, then finding a way to pay the bills while we do it. That’s the three steps. I’ll try and address the questions more as we go on…

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Musical fun times in Northern California.

January 14th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Wow, I’m exhausted! The last three days have been pretty intense work-wise.

Starting with a gig Friday night at The Red House in Walnut Creek – it’s a fantastic venue: The Red House is a ‘health club for musicians’, the attendees pay a monthly subscription, and then get to use the rehearsal facilities, go to gigs, buy stuff in the shop, record demos and get music lessons in a really great facility.

The gig went really well – the onstage sound was spectacular, which always makes for a better show, given that we can play with more nuance, and Lobelia sang beautifully. A fine time was had by all, many CDs were bought, and we all went home v. happy.

Saturday and Sunday were really heavy on the work schedule – two 7 hour bass classes and a house concert.

The classes were less well attended than previous years, mainly because I pulled the classes forward two weeks this year due to scheduling, and a lot of people still haven’t really surfaced from christmas – it’s a lesson for future years re: planning, BUT the great thing is that the smaller classes actually make for a much better learning environment for everyone. The group of bassists who come along to these classes are such a fascinating, diverse group of musicians, all willing to learn, full of great experiences, comments, questions, and capable of making some really beautiful music. It’s a real privilege to get to teach them one weekend a year, and to see the progress from year to year.

The house concert at Looperlative Bob’s house was another really special event – Bob’s living room turned into a REALLY great lil’ venue, and again the audience was full of really really great people! One of the most exciting things about house concerts is that the audience isn’t ‘genre defined’ – they aren’t full of bass-geeks or ambient music afficionados or jazzheads or whatever. They are generally friends of the people putting the show on, out to hear something new, and it’s a such fun to play our music to a completely uninitiated audience. Again, it went over really well, and lots of CDs were sold too… (it’ll be interesting to see if CD sales at indie gigs remain high even after CD sales online and in shops die out – people still want the social currency of coming up and buying a piece of the evening, interacting with the musicians, and showing their support by doing that… there are clearly other things that can be sold, but I do think CDs will remain as ‘souvenirs’ of a great night out long after they cease to be the primary way of transmitting music from band to fans-at-home. Right now, CD sales are still a vital part of the indie gigging economy, so a HUGE thanks to all those who bought discs at the shows…)

So that was our weekend – busybusy, rewarding, exhausting, mentally taxing (staying focussed on a room-ful of bassists for 7 hours a day two days in a row is pretty challenging, especially given that I don’t work from notes, so have to keep the narrative thread of the day’s material moving forward whilst accommodating all the side-tracks that happen based on the questions people ask and the things they play…), and above all it was a great chance to catch up with loads of old friends and meet lots of new lovely people. So much fun.

Today’s a day off, tomorrow we drive to Southern California, and on Thursday, NAMM starts… hurrah!

Tags: Gig stuff · Music News · New Music Strategies

Facebook have added more band stuff….

November 21st, 2007 · Comments Off on Facebook have added more band stuff….

Facebook have now added the option to have band pages, and I’ve got one up there.

If you’re on facebook, please click here to add yourself as a fan – would be lovely to have your support over there.

As they add more resources for musicians, it could become a really cool thing.

And if you want to add my music to your facebook profile, you can do so via the Reverb Nation Facebook plug-in – it’s a great tool that allows you to add music to your page, and spread the word! It’d help me out loads if you did, and give your facebook page a cool soundtrack too. :o)

If you’ve got a band and want a facebook thing, it’s all about the pages click here for more, and once you’ve created your page, come and add a link to it here in the comments…

Tags: cool links · Music News · site updates

Transparent Music Pt 1

November 21st, 2007 · 1 Comment

Nope, this isn’t going to be a review of the excellent BJ Cole album of the same name (though that always comes highly recommended!) – no, in this context, transparent music relates to making music that isn’t obscured by the technical and ego-laden concerns of the creator… It’s something that bassists seem to struggle with more than most, often content to label what we do as ‘bass music’ or to see other bassists as a target market. So many bass-led albums end up being largely displays of technical virtuosity and bass-ish gimmickry devoid of much musical content. Or even with plenty of musical content obscured by the techno-wank going on over the top.

I dispensed with the idea of targeting bassists as my primary market a long time ago. I did so not because I don’t like bassists listening to what I do (dear bassists of the world, I love you very much indeed), but because of how it affected the way I thought about making music. As I’ve reiterated here a number of times, impressing bassists isn’t that hard – indeed it’s often the stuff that is least musical by a particular artist that gets the strongest accolades from the bassists of the world – youtube is full of half-assed bass cleverness getting the ‘wow that’s amazing!!!’ treatment from the enthralled bass playing teenagers of the planet. But will it ever get airplay? Probably not. Will you ever see it on a gig of any kind? Probably not. That’s not to say that the people making it shouldn’t be doing it – of course anyone can make whatever noises they want and upload the vids to youtube without me policing it!!! – but it’s important to be aware of what’s at work, and how it affects YOU the artist.

If you find yourself thinking about your target audience when you’re making your music, in a ‘this’ll wow them’ kind of way, that’s going to affect the emotional range of what you come up with. Guaranteed. You’re narrowing yourself to ‘wow music’, and that’s not, for the most part, a particularly fertile furrow to plough.

So this is where the idea of transparent music comes in – music unobscured by the technical overload ladened on to leave teen bassist’s tongues hanging out. Music where the story, the emotion, the vibe, the scene that’s being set is foremost in the listener’s awareness when they’re listening.

So am I saying that technique isn’t important? Of course I’m not. Technique is doubly important because it has no real currency in and of itself, so it needs to be learnt, perfected and then set to work serving the greater musical picture. It needs to be much more highly developed given that the cleverness of it will be no coverup for a bunch of fluffed notes, when it’s meant to be conveying something else to the listener.

It requires mindfulness and maturity, clarity of thought and purpose, and is particularly difficult if you’re thinking about how you’re going to sell the end product when you’ve finished it. But no-one said make great music would be easy. It clearly isn’t, given how much risibly dire shit gets through the radio/magazine/tv filters – most music is at best mediocre. Which is all the more of a challenge to make something of substance. As Ellis Marsalis once told his son Wynton – “those who play for applause, that’s all they get.” – technique has to be at the service of something deeper, or it becomes circus performance.

And of course, it goes without saying that that deeper thing can be incredibly technically advanced – have a listen to Michael Manring, Don Ross, John Coltrane etc. etc…. It’s just that in each case, the music, the passion, the spirit is deeply evident in every note.

In the UK for quite a few years through the late 90s and early 00s the exact opposite of the flashness thing was true – musicians were actively shying away from appearing to be technically proficient, preferring to sound shitty and untrained as a way of appearing to be 4 REAL. Bollocks. It just meant that nothing grooved and a whole load of musical language that REQUIRES proficiency dropped off the musical map for a while.

One of the reasons that so many times of musical transition have been characterised by drug use is not that drugs make you more creative. It’s just that they shut off the voices that tell you what you CAN’T do. And very few people can be bothered to go through the process of shutting out those voices in a way that doesn’t rely on drugs. It’s tough. It’s really hard to filter through the thousands of messages we get from marketeers about how we should be, what we should like, what’s cool and why cool matters. And it’s all utter bullshit. Picking a path through it is a life long pursuit, and a daily one at that. A process of naming and disregarding the BS voices trying to get us to conform and consume.

It’s the same in the music world as anywhere else. Fads, fashions, new gear, new software, new models for this and that. Buy a new bass and your tone will magically compensate for the 10 years of half-assed non-focussed practice that you haven’t been doing. Picking through that, realising that there aren’t any short cuts, but there are efficient ways of doing the work, there are useful ways of thinking about what it is that we do that will help us cut down on wasted time and get to the place of creativity and clarity sooner, and without needing to get stoned to be there.

Feel free to post your thoughts and experiences in the comments, before I expand on this in Pt II. :o)

Tags: bass ideas · Musing on Music · tips for musicians

Early Christmas presents – your virtual gifts here…

November 20th, 2007 · Comments Off on Early Christmas presents – your virtual gifts here…

It’s something we’ve done in a small way over in the forum for a couple of years, but I thought I’d copy it over here as a comment thread this year – giving Christmas presents is often expensive and perhaps almost as often, pointless. You spend ages trying to find something that is adequate as a gift, not that is either useful or of benefit, or something where the purchasing in the first place is for the greater good…

We can talk about fair trade presents (and beautiful solo bass cds) later but for now, we’re looking for free online pressies. They can be as simple as recommendations for cool websites, or links to sites with free (legal) MP3s, or cartoons, films. Please don’t post links to anything where the legality or morality of the derivation is questionable, like MP3 blogs not sanctioned by the artists etc. but links to last.fm pages with free mp3s are good, or even last.fm pages where albums are streamable if not downloadable.

This is your chance to offer a free gift of something fun and useful and artsy and cool to all the readers of this ‘ere blog…

So here are my three for you – one or two of which I may have mentioned before –

The End of Control – on ongoing ebook, readable as a blog or downloadable as PDF chapters, on the changes in the music industry.
Free Culture – another e-book about the nature of copyright, ownership and the proliferation of ideas and content in a digital age.
New Music Strategies – a third e-book about the changes in the music industry. More deeply thought out stuff on where it’s all going.

So there you go, three books for Christmas (or for you Americans, you can see them as a Thanksgiving present too, should you wish to, along with this thought and this thought about what Thanksgiving is).

So post away, comments are open – give a freebie web-gift for Christmas! :o)

Tags: cool links · New Music Strategies · Random Catchup · tips for musicians · website recommendations

photos from last night's house concert in Anstruther

October 27th, 2007 · 1 Comment

steve lawson playing a house concert

Once again, I haven’t really got time to blog extensively, thanks to my lappy now being on, but being wedged in a drawer to keep it on (I think there’s a dry joint or loose connection that requires it to be suspended from one corner in order to work!!)

So, instead, for your viewing pleasure, here are some photos from last night’s most enjoyable house concert at lovely G and J’s. A select gathering of very lovely people, and a fine time was had by all.

The two days of masterclasses in Perth and Salford were a lot of fun too – lots of talk about the future of the industry, about creativity, finding your voice, marketing, myspace, downloading, looping, practising… some good questions, and a lovely response at the end of each session (not to mention a few bassists walking out cos It was bassy enough for them – one choice comment ‘he’s more like a singer’… which I’m sure was meant as an insult, somehow, but I’m definitely taking that as a compliment!)

If you were there, please drop by the forum or the myspace page and say hi (I think I accidentally deleted one or two myspace comments, thanks to the broken lappy, so if I deleted your very nice comment, please feel free to repost it!)

more on the future of music v. soon – I’ve been getting some thoughts down via voice notes on my phone whilst driving around, so need to get time, space and a working computer in order to write those up… some good stuff coming up! :o)

Tags: cool links · Gig stuff · Music News

Music 2.0 sites…

October 20th, 2007 · Comments Off on Music 2.0 sites…

Gerd Leonhard just posted a link to a slideshow of 44 ‘music 2.0’ web sites – the amazing thing is that it’s a slideshow of the actual websites – not something I’ve ever seen before – each of them loads in turn, and you can click on the links in each of them to have them open in tabs or other windows to come back to.

i’ve not gone through them yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what’s available there, and if there’s anything cool for musicians… I’ll search through when I get time. If you have a look and find anything particularly interesting, please post it in the comments…

Tags: Geek

A false sense of entitlement – the flaw in the new distribution models?

October 17th, 2007 · 1 Comment

In all the thinking that’s going on about new ways of distributing music, one thing is rather bothering me, and that’s the inferred/assumed entitlement of audiences to access to music. There is, built into most of the discussions on how we move forward, the taken-as-red assumption that if musicians don’t provide music in the way that the audience wants it, they’ll just steal it. Fuck you, Mr musician, how dare you think you can limit my access to your work.

If a baker decides that he’s going to make less bread and charge more for it, either he needs to convince his customers that it’s worth the extra money and effort to get it, or he goes out of business (or finds another business to support his baking, if he does it for the love of it). What doesn’t happen is his customers decide that they’ll just go into the kitchen, make bread for themselves and take it home, or help themselves to the bread in the window of the shop, and set up a table outside the door giving it away to passers by because he had no right to do that, and is clearly a selfish bastard who needs to be taught a lesson.

But with music, the option to limit access to your music is assumed to no longer exist. Because everyone feels like they have a right to it. So if Madonna’s new album is too expensive, or only available as a download at low res and with DRM on iTunes, instead of saying ‘well I won’t get it then’ the assumption is that it’s somehow legit to take it. As though access to that music is a right, not a privilege. As though the music I write, and record and make – using my own money and time – is then no longer mine. The recordings aren’t mine, the songs aren’t mine. They’ve become public property without me even being consulted.

Likewise, the whole notion of user-generated content – YouTube videos, live bootlegs, etc. Completely unregulated, and liable to change live music for ever. Jonatha posts a beautifully worded response to the whole question of unsolicited filming at gigs and the effect it has on her in the discussion forum on her site – well worth reading. Basically, it creates a permanent document of something that is essentially of the moment, and filming it turns it into a recording session, losing something of the spontaneity. My response on the forum, when I was asked whether I minded being filmed was ‘normally no’, but I do a) like the be asked and b) like the chance to vet it before it gets uploaded. No-one wants a permanent online record of an off-night (though there is that entire recording of the gig I did with no pedals with Lo. in September!)

So, do you need to have the video of the gig you were at? Do you assume your ticket price also includes some kind of innate recording rights? If a record is too expensive, or not available in the format you want, does that give you the right to download it for free from somewhere else? Clearly, I think that’s a heinous situation, though it’s one that much of the industry seems to have resigned itself to. The biggest own goal seems to have been that the arguments have centered around money, and particularly when someone like Lars Ulrich – a multi-millionaire – complains about it denting his income, most people aren’t really going to give a shit.

However, entitlement isn’t about money, it’s about the right to negotiate with your audience, and your audience then being able to choose to not spend the money by not buying the product, and therefor not owning it! So you cut yourself off from income, but also from your audience. So you negotiate, by way of dropping the price, making it available in other ways or whatever, but it’s your product and you do with it what you like… Just like the baker with the bread.

The video I linked to earlier about media megatrends characterised the shift in slightly more euphamistic a-moral terms by talking about it being a move from scarcity to ubiquity as the driving currency – in an age when you have a physical product, the distribution of which you have control over, the value therein is in it’s scarcity – independent record shops survive because they stock things you can’t get elsewhere. Record labels can do exclusive deals, or even just sell direct. Artists can just sell at gigs, making their product even more desirable by the difficultly of finding it. Even if you sell in mainstream shops, you can set your wholesale price at the point where the price stays up, if that’s what you want, and the the competition is with other recording artists – will people pay £15 for one of my CDs, when they can get someone else’s that they like just as much for £8?

The ubiquity model says that the artist should relinquish control over the proliferation of their work in exchange for a shot at ubiquity – being everwhere, and making money through the exposure, be it profit-sharing on youtube, increased live attendance, sales of premium product (which is what CDs are now becoming, given that the default in a very short time from now will be the download) and radio, tv and film royalties.

I think there are ramifications to this that are anti-creative, and rapacious in their treatment of the creative output of a the artist – especially if you value the mixed-media product that you’ve assembled (be it artwork, sleeve notes, video, collage, pop-up book, whatever…) There’s a hyper-capitalist, spectral Friedman-esque element to the terms of engagement that negate the value of scarcity or the more esoteric value of specific and particular artistic expression, and remove any rights of the artist to negotiate or explore the notion of the work having greater or lesser monetary value in relation to any other work. Instead, it’s about rushing to make your product as ubiquitous as possible in order to turn that ubiquity into cashflow just by being everywhere instead of by being valuable/important/’good’. It’s a pretty unique and depressing scenario… Where next?

My bottom line thesis – you/we don’t need the music. You/we aren’t entitled to the music, it’s not yours/ours to take, it’s the artists to sell, or give away as they see fit. And if you don’t like the terms, you don’t need to buy, and they can starve if they choose to be stubborn. Or sell 30 CDs for $1000 a time.

DRM is a crock of shit, but with its removal comes a social contract between the artist and the audience, one that I think should, if adhered to, help both. The removal of DRM makes it easier for the listener to share tracks as a way of spreading information about an artist around, and also to play the stuff on different systems, copy from computer to mp3 player to phone – being cross-platform is vital, and is why iTunes is now having to change it’s shitty DRM policy (and up its resolution), but it does leave musicians vulnerable… with over 50% of all web traffic being filesharing, the vast majority of it illegal, the idea of the social contract is not getting across. The feeling that somehow it’s fat cat record company execs and multimillionaire rock stars who are losing out seems to absolve the conscience of the file sharers. But the artists still are making art. The judgement call that says ‘this person has sold out already, therefor i can download their stuff with impunity’ isn’t anyone’s to make.

The consequences of all this in creative and artistic terms are things I’ve blogged about a lot recently… it’s a really murky world, and I’m fascinated to see where it goes. I’m going to keep mulling this one over, and see where it leads… your thoughts are much appreciated in the comments, should you wish to share them :o)

Tags: bass ideas · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians