stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



G20 protests – a change is gonna come.

April 1st, 2009 · Comments Off on G20 protests – a change is gonna come.

picture of protesters outside the Bank of EnglandToday I went down to the protest outside the Bank Of England that coincided with the meeting of the G20 in London. It was a multi-angle protest, seeking to bring together the shared concerns of the environmental movement, anti-capitalists, the climate change brigade, the stop the war coalition and those who wanted to see a greater degree of culpability placed on the financial systems and institutions that presided over the current global economic collapse.
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Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Social Media first principles for Musicians Pt 3 – going Mobile.

December 12th, 2008 · Comments Off on Social Media first principles for Musicians Pt 3 – going Mobile.

Steve Lawson and his N95 as taken by Benjamin Ellis. Finally… part 3! The timing is prescient for two reasons. Firstly, last Monday I was invited to be a panelist at a discussion hosted by Mobile Mondays (MoMo) on the whole area of Mobile tech and Social Media.

Secondly, it’s because today I’m heading to Leicester to De Montfort University Business School to help put together a social media toolkit that small businesses can use. (In case you’d let it slip your mind, being a pro or semi-pro musician IS a small business – makes for a great case study, in fact…)

So, cutting to the chase, our two Sesame Street-esque words of the day are:

Mobile‘ and ‘Transparent‘.

As I said to the lovely suits at MoMo, one of the big problems for non-uber-geeks using mobile social tools at the moment is the lack of transparent interface.

What the hell does that mean? OK, if you take a picture, click a button and quietly in the background it then uploads to Flickr for you (or to Facebook, Ovi, or if you want to post it to lots of places at once, Phreadz), that’s transparent. If, however, you take a picture, scroll through 100 menus, click a button, tell it to upload and then have to watch the screen for 5 mins because the connection keeps dropping and your phone might crash… that’s what I like to call ‘Not Transparent‘. That’s a pain in the arse, and unless you have a dedicated Social Media monitor (like a library monitor in school, but with cooler toys), it makes it very difficult to be spontaneous.

And spontaneity is key to the value of mobile for a musician. If you’re touring, all kinds of fun and crazy things are happening all the time. Lots of them (the ones that aren’t borderline illegal), when photographed, filmed or recorded, have enormous shareability. They’re funny, engaging, interesting and easily become part of the narrative. Even more importantly, they are something free you can GIVE to your audience, expecting nothing in return. You’re just inviting them into your world, to see a glimpse of the life you live on the road. Or in the studio, out shopping for music gear, or – if you’re comfortable with it – bits of your day to day life.

So where are we up to with the tech? Well, it is, not surprisingly, getting better and better. Hardware-wise, the front-runners are the Nokia N95 (my own smartphone of choice) and the iPhone… I’m not a huge fan of the iPhone, but I do appreciate the feature set it has, and it is a great device for playing around with mobile social media.

My reason for loving the N95 is that it’s as close to an all-in-one tool as I’ve seen yet
. The camera – and more importantly, the video capture – is the best I’ve come across in a mobile phone (even the world’s biggest cynic about such things, PhotoMonkeySteve, was impressed by the quality…). It has wifi, 3G and a whole slew of great apps developed for it. It’s a pretty good media playback device (if you rip films in the right format, you can even use it as a portable DVR, hook it up to your TV and watch films on the big screen…)

For me, being able to record gigs (I’ve currently got about 3.5 hours of Lobelia and I playing house concerts on the phone, waiting to be edited and uploaded to YouTube…) stream little bits of my daily life and upload photos direct to flickr (or, using TwitPic, to Twitter) is really cool. I can even blog direct to this WordPress blog from the phone.

The connection your audience will feel with what you’re doing is multiplied by a pretty large factor when you talk to them ‘in the moment’
– not ‘last night I played a gig’, but ‘I’m about to go on stage, wish me luck!’ – I posted that very message on Twitter last night before I played with Lawson/Dodds/Wood and got LOADS of replies from people who wouldn’t drop in to say ‘hey, really glad you had a good gig’ on my blog, but feel all warm and snuggly, and again, importantly, ‘like they’re missing something’ because I tell them what I’m doing right then.

So here’s what you need to get going with your Mobile social media life:

  • A Nokia N95 (or N82, or iPhone, or any other smartphone that has the features listed above)
  • A twitter account (twittering on the go makes bus and train journeys so much more fun. Most of the members of Jars Of Clay are now on Twitter, and their tour-banter is a lovely glimpse of life on the road)
  • A flickr account (you should have one of these already – I’ll post more about flickr soon…)
  • A youtube account (be warned, if you get an iPhone, the current version does NOT do video. I know, it’s insane, why the hell not?) – you can upload directly to your youtube account from the Nokia N series phones, via the youtube app. Same goes for Seesmic and Phreadz.

You can also post to Facebook, Myspace and a raft of other social sites from your phone.

Bottom line, you can double your social media footprint and quadruple your connection with your audience by going Mobile.

What’s more, it’s only going to get better from here. Be warned, a few of these things have a bit of a learning curve attached, mainly to get round the foibles of the hardware and software (by far the best feature-set of the upload apps is ShoZu… it’s just a shame that it makes my phone impossible to use when it’s running… I met the VP of Marketing at Shozu at MoMo, so will report back on my communication with her soon – she’s eager to help…)

4 years from now, social networking is going to be predominantly mobile and very much driven by rich media (photos, videos, audio) – get in there now and you’ll have a bigger slice of the audience, have made all your mistakes while most people don’t even know what you’re doing, and be in a position to innovate as soon as the tech comes along that lets you do it.

So, off you go and upgrade your phone (just don’t forget to recycle the old one…)

Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Videos from Heathrow…

September 11th, 2008 · Comments Off on Videos from Heathrow…

Tags: Geek · Uncategorized

Video, Greenbelt, blogging and being yourself

September 2nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Video, Greenbelt, blogging and being yourself

OK, I promised a greenbelt round-up, and that’s still on the way, but first (this is backwards, I know) some thoughts on how video worked for us at Greenbelt. By ‘us’, I mean the social media monkeys that were trying to get Greenbelt’s web-presence away from just being a static website into something a little more granular, diffuse, community based and embeddable as conversation-starters…

Greenbelters have been using Flickr in a co-ordinated way for years – there are over 15,000 photos tagged at Greenbelt2006, Greenbelt2007 or Greenbelt2008! But the festival presence hadn’t really gone beyond that. So I, along with JennyBee, James Stewart, Lobelia and Mike Radcliffe set about building a video presence for the festival.

Jenny was already involved in a more structured, formal process of collecting video interviews and whatnot for promotional usage, but we were all looking for a much more guerilla feel to our social media footage: lots of chatting to camera, unedited interviews, fun stuff from around the site. And, crucially, we wanted a fair bit of it to be watchable live.

After about a month of trying, we finally found a contact at WomWorld – a Nokia promo blog, who would lend us the hardware we needed to do the project – namely, 4 Nokia N82s and one Nokia N95. Yay for Nokia and their lovely bloggers! It all happened so late in the day that the phones were sent direct to the festival site, and we had very little time to trail what we were doing, or to get conversant with everything that the phones could do. Still, we’ve managed, so far, to rack up well over 8000 views on the Greenbelt Group at Qik.com and Mike opted to record video at higher quality and post it to his YouTube Channel – he produced some great video.

Here’s my Qik Channel – the first 50 vids on here are from the festival:

So I did all the interviews you’ve seen embedded here over the last 10 days, and a whole load more footage, had some great feedback to it all, and it’s already cropped up being embedded and linked to on a range of sites, providing a talking point for those who were and those who weren’t at the festival.

It was a fantastic validation of two things – firstly, the importance of embeddable, linkable social media for starting conversations about any event. And secondly, the importance of video in getting the ‘feel‘ of any event across. blogging, texting, tweeting, even audio recordings go some way to creating a ‘buzz’, but nothing has the impact that video has… if Greenbelt are bright, they’ll get behind this nexy year, resource it, promote it, and they could have a virtual attendance bigger than that actual attendance…

I’ve just written a post about the honesty of video for Creative-Choices.co.uk, and started a discussion about it at Phreadz. Sadly you can’t embed video on the Creative Choices blog, but here’s the Phreadz conversation about it –

The question at the end of the Creative Choices blog is ‘how is video working for you?’ – feel free to drop by over there and answer it

Tags: Geek · Managing Information Streams · Random Catchup

Post-greenbelt. How Was It For You?

August 27th, 2008 · Comments Off on Post-greenbelt. How Was It For You?

We’re home from Greenbelt. Will do a proper blow by blow account soon, but for now, a few thoughts on a Qik video (I am as tired as I look in the vid 🙂 )

Please post links to your own Greenbelt blogs, videos & photos in the comments below…

Tags: Geek · Musing on Music · Random Catchup

Interview with Carl from Sleeveface

August 23rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Interview with Carl from Sleeveface

Did a little interview with Carl from Sleeveface.com today, in preparation for a bigger chat we’re going to have tomorrow, at 3pm, which will be streamed live at qik.com/solobasssteve

Here’s today’s chat –

There’s loads more video from today over at qik.com/solobasssteve, and we’ll be streaming tonight’s Lawson/Dodds/Wood gig live there at 11pm (that’s in about 20 mins as I write).

Tags: Geek · gig dates · Gig stuff

Interview with Jon Birch of Asbojesus…

August 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Interview with Jon Birch of Asbojesus…

Here’s a lil’ interview with the marvellous and lovely Jon Birch of Asbojesus.wordpress.com – he’s fab, his blog’s fab, and the interview’s pretty cool too…

Tags: Geek · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

A new blog post and another QIK vid…

August 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on A new blog post and another QIK vid…

It’s only friday afternoon, the Greenbelt site isn’t even open yet, and I’m already working like crazy.

I’ve been posting loads of videos at www.qik.com/solobasssteve (damn, I’m going to HAVE to get myself a Nokia N95 after I give this trial one back. It’s WAY to useful!) and have just written another post for Creative Choices, entitled Creative Copying – have a read, and feel free to comment there.

If you follow my twitter feed, whenever a link appears that says I’m Qiking, you can log in and chat with me on the live stream… please drop in and say hi!

Here’s another qik post from this morning –

Tags: Geek · Random Catchup

A weekend at Greenbelt – watch this space…

August 21st, 2008 · Comments Off on A weekend at Greenbelt – watch this space…

I’m down at the Greenbelt festival this weekend, and will be streaming a lot of video, thanks to those lovely people at Wom World lending me, Lobelia, James Stewart, JennyBee and Mike Radcliffe a pile of video-compatible phones to stream from! Hurrah.

So head to www.qik.com/solobasssteve to follow the videos, and keep an eye on www.moblog.net/greenbelt for other blogged and aggregated content from all of us!

Here’s my first QIK from the festival…

Tags: Uncategorized