stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



It’s The Little Things That Count – You Are The Press.

August 9th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Sidelong Glace by Patrick_Down on FlickrOver the years, I’ve sent literally hundreds of CDs to magazines and radio, in the hope of reviews and airplay. And I’ve had a quite large amount of both:

But, what is evident to anyone who experiences these things first hand, is that word of mouth – my listeners telling their friends and family about the wonderful music they’ve just discovered – is worth more than all that mainstream press put together. [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

If Spotify Is The New Radio, The Artists Are Winning

November 25th, 2009 · 25 Comments

[EDIT – this post is a couple of years out of date – for a more recent appraisal of where I stand with Spotify, see Why I’ve Taken My Music Off Spotify]

There were a few articles kicking around yesterday touting a figure that ‘Lady Gaga earned $167 from Spotify for over a million plays’ – I think the story originated on TorrentFreak.

Perhaps not surprisingly the writers at TorrentFreak aren’t too au fait with the way that payment systems work for artists. The figure quoted is a publishing royalty – it’s from STIM (The Swedish Performing Rights Society). It doesn’t reflect payments due to the performer direct from Spotify (outlined in somewhat confusing detail in this Guardian article) which, according to the CEO of We7, are roughly ten times the PRS-collected royalty payment. It’s this figure that may or may not have been negotiated downwards by Spotify with the major labels – the labels have pretty much no say over the rates that the PRS set (other than through lobbying). [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

SL On The Radio

September 15th, 2009 · 5 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by the wonderful Tom Robinson for his show on 6Music, ‘Introducing – a show all about new music with, rather brilliantly, lots of handy tips for bands and artists starting out and trying to negotiate the tricky transition from the age of the mega-deal-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow to the scary world of DIY and talking to your audience. [Read more →]

Tags: Music News · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Website Of the Week on 6Music Introducing!

June 7th, 2009 · 3 Comments

BBC Introducing is a cross network initiative to get unsigned music onto the air. As I mentioned in my post on ‘What Makes Your Music Interesting?‘ I’ve been talking to Tom Robinson about my music ever since we met at his event that I live-blogged at London Songwriters Week.

Well, on last night’s Introducing Show, stevelawson.net was his website of the week, and he played I’m Lost by Lobelia and I, and said some rather nice things about it.

You Can Listen to it on the iPlayer by going to the show page, and clicking on the Sunday link in the listen again menu. [Read more →]

Tags: Music News

Interview with me on BBC Radio 5 Live

March 10th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Pods and Blogs websiteLast Thursday I went over to BBC TV Centre to be interviewed for BBC Radio 5 Live’s Pods And Blogs. It’s a segment in the overnight show on a Monday, I think, but for those of us who aren’t nocturnal, it’s also a rather excellent stand alone podcast. I’ve been listening to it for months, and Jamillah Knowles does a great job of rounding up what’s happening in webland in a 25 minute show.
[Read more →]

Tags: Music News · website recommendations

House Concerts – what to do when you're not acoustic.

February 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on House Concerts – what to do when you're not acoustic.

The Locals live at a house concert in Chicago by Mike MaddaloniOne of the main responses I’ve been getting to our tale of house concert touring success is ‘that’s great, but my band is too loud/too big/too jazz/too dancey/etc… to work in that setting. What do you suggest?

The implication there is that there’s only one way for a band to perform. So, let’s consider house concerts as the modern equivalent of doing an in-the-studio radio performance.
[Read more →]

Tags: Gig stuff · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Social Media Thoughts Pt 2 – The Playground Of The Curious.

May 16th, 2008 · Comments Off on Social Media Thoughts Pt 2 – The Playground Of The Curious.

I wrote off the idea of chasing a record deal before I even put out my first album. After a series of pretty uninspiring encounters with labels via artists I was working with in the 90s, and the simple fact that as far as I could see, no-one was making any money via a label playing solo bass, I decided before my first album that I’d do it all myself.

Back then, there was a lot of nebulous, unfocussed talk about how the internet was going to change everything, but so much of the traffic that musicians were getting back then was as a result of there being precious little about music online. As an example, I was the only bass teacher in Europe with a website for over a year when I first set my site up, and would get student enquiries from all over the continent, from bassists wanting to fly to england for lessons!

The bass-stuff on the web was pretty limited, and as I had a site, was teaching at a London music college, was involved with The Bottom Line (by far the biggest bass-related web-thing around in the 90s) I had a profile. So when I put up some real audio files (real audio!!) of my first solo gig, it got a surprising amount of traffic and interest. Not because it was the greatest thing ever (only some of it was 😉 ), but just because of the huge amount of novelty-driven, bass-related web traffic that was passing through my site. If I gave people something to do online for half an hour that felt vaguely worthwhile, then my site validated the time they were spending on this great new toy of theirs.

But the tools weren’t really in place to build a career online, just a reputation. However, it was a great environment in which to forge a model for dealing with promoting hard-to-pigeonhole music online – the model being one of curious play – whenever I came across something new, I jumped in and had a play. I chatted to the current users of a particular forum or chatroom, I posted music clips on MP3.com (where unbeknownst to me, Lobelia was racking up over a million plays!) and splashed around in the web-pool, looking for interesting things to happen…

So as social media evolved, my play-approach helped me – along with a whole load of other musicians disillusioned with ‘the mainstream’ – fairly unconsciously develop a way of engaging with my audience via conversation, interaction and availability, rather than broadcast, spam and rock-star seclusion. Again, web forums had been doing this for a while, and I had hosted a forum at talkbass.com in their ‘ask the pros’ section for ages, but Myspace, commentable blogs and self-hosted forums started to make that kind of conversation portable to our own branded space via the comments option.

I remember in the early days of MySpace hearing the rumours that some big name musicians were actually running their own myspace pages, and being nonplussed by everyone’s surprise. Why wouldn’t David Byrne or Robert Smith or Peter Hook or whoever want to communicate direct with their audience? The problem for them was that Myspace got so big that the interaction become meaningless when they received thousands of comments a day. The smart ones started blogging on Myspace, and eventually (years after the novelty value had passed) myspace started promoting celeb blogs… (even then, a lot of musicians kept writing their blogs in the third person, as though a PA was doing it for them, not getting how important it is for audiences these days to hear your story in your voice…) Blog comment threads became a great way for big name artists to ‘host’ the discussion about their thoughts and writing without having to answer individual queries and comments.

The big mistake that so many musicians make with Social Media is to see it as a stop-gap, as what you do ‘until you make it’, as the thing that bands do who can’t get ‘a proper deal’. The lure of becoming a millionaire rock star is still so inexplicably strong that it blinds most pop and rock musicians to the opportunity staring them in the face to bypass all that other BS altogether.

The bit they’ve got lost in is the feeling that broadcast is where its at, is the measure of success, rather than grasping that all but the most refined of broadcast media have an incredibly low recognition ratio for stuff that’s played in the people listening. The simple fact is that I’ve sold WAY more CDs to the coupla hundred people who’ve seen me play in, say, Petersfield in Hampshire, than I have to the hundreds of thousands who’ve heard me on The Late Junction on Radio 3 – a show that’s been playing my music pretty regularly over the last however many years.

What Social Media allows artists to do is have the kind of in-depth conversations that previously could only happen at live events, with their audience in their own homes. If I post here on the blog, the people who are interested in what I do can read it and understand what I do in a way they’re never going to get from the lovely Verity and Fiona giving it a 15 second intro at midnight on the radio. And with so much music the story around the music is what gives it context, and provides and entry point for the audience, an understanding of where the artist sees their music. painters, photographers and sculptors have been contextualising their work within narratives for years, but for any music that is assumed to be in some way ‘pop’ music, it’s tough to get people to do the digging. Social media allows us to place the conversation about what we do right alongside the art itself, inviting responses, questions and discussion.

The future for musicians is in the artist/audience conversation and interaction that social media facilitates. And this is a concept that is now spilling over into business and PR and Marketing and even politics… but that’s Pt III. 🙂

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