stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Why I Quit MySpace.

October 24th, 2010 · 15 Comments

Today, in case you were unaware, is ‘Quit Myspace Day‘. It’s an entirely voluntary, rather mischievous and unexpectedly cathartic thing to be a part of. A year ago, Andrew Dubber proposed the idea, suggesting that MySpace had one year to become useful, meaningful, helpful, music-ful again or we should all bail out en masse. [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies

50,000 Tweets – A Love Story

September 24th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Tonight, I clocked up my 50,000th tweet. It looked like this:

It’s no secret that I REALLY dig Twitter. It solved a whole lot of online communication questions for me when I found it. I cut back on my posting on forums, and eventually even deleted the forum on my own site in favour of encouraging the regular posters there to head over to Twitter and talk in a more democratic environment.

I loved the fact that I was no longer stuck in a subject-specific space, or one where I people had to sign up to be in my gang before joining the conversation. It’s not my conversation, after all, it’s a global free-for-all.

Except it isn’t. I mean, technically it is, but actually the only bit of Twitter that concerns me at all is the people I follow and the people who follow me. And occasionally the people who tweet using a hashtag I happen to be following.

I am, as the 50K Tweets would suggest, a power-user. I document my life in this way. I use it to:

  • Talk with my audience in a way that has replaced my email list,
  • Talk with musicians in way that has replaced myspace,
  • Talk with my family in a way that has replaced email,
  • Talk with my colleagues in Amplified in a way that has replaced wikis
  • Talk with anyone who’s interested in a way that’s replaced chatrooms/generic forums.

…and by ‘talk with’ I mean all the myriad forms of communication that go on there – chat, debate, encourage, learn from, teach, swap links, post news… anything that’ll fit in 140 characters.

    It’s clearly an open, messy, FUN way of communicating that I love. I don’t have to keep track of loads of different websites – I do have 10 different twitter accounts, but most of them lie dormant at the moment. SoloBassSteve is where pretty much everything happens, and for some unknown reason there are (currently) 4836 people who have seen fit to follow me. Some may be spammers, but I’ve blocked and deleted AT LEAST 3 times as many followers as I’ve allowed to stay. Any spam accounts I cleared out… I’ve definitely had well in excess of 12-13,000 follow notifications, I just didn’t want either a misleading amount of followers, or to leave those accounts without some registering a ‘spam’ click next to them…

    But, in the last 3 years, most of the good things that have happened for Lobelia and I have happened through Twitter.

    • We’ve met some of our best friends
    • We’ve planned tours
    • We’ve organised recordings
    • We gleaned information
    • We had support and congratulations on the birth of our baby
    • We shared our holidays
    • We found people to help us move house
    • and We had LOADS of work, new listeners, and – crucially – amazing people willing to talk about what we do as musicians time and time again.

    I spend a lot – most – of my time on Twitter talking about other people’s music, encouraging and connection musicians to eachother, helping people get their heads around this brave, heady new disintermediated world we’re in. I’m trying to model the way I think the distruptive awesome internet of the future should work. Cos the future is now. We’re in it, it’s great, and Twitter is quite possibly THE game changer.

    Youtube was big, Myspace was big. WordPress was big. Bandcamp is HUGE. Soundcloud is awesome. But as the glue that makes all of them workable, manageable and connected, Twitter for me is THE killer app. The reason the internets was invented.

    So, 50 Thousand Tweets on, I’m still all about it. Here, if you’re interested, is my twitter-list of people I chat to, day in, day out: The Awesome Squad.

    -o0o-

    This evening someone asked me (on Twitter) which was the classic Steve Lawson album. So I asked my friends (on Twitter) to answer. So far the answer has come back, overwhelmingly, Grace And Gratitude. Which is fitting. Because I’m hugely grateful for all the good things that have happened through the amazing people I’m connected to on there. Please have a listen, and feel free to download it – don’t feel obliged to pay for it, but if you want to pay whatever you think it’s worth, that would also be hugely appreciated:

    Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies

    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

    The problem of time. The eternal crisis of music-based social networks.

    February 2nd, 2009 · Comments Off on The problem of time. The eternal crisis of music-based social networks.

    TOO MUCH CHOICE! Photo of Lobelia in Mother's health food store, Costa Mesa, California, by steve lawsonSo, context: I’m on Myspace, ReverbNation, Last.fm, Facebook and Twitter. Oh, and Youtube, Vimeo, Seesmic, Phreadz…etc. etc.

    All of them are social networks. On all of them, not surprisingly, I get followed/added/friended by a lot of musicians and bands.

    Which is all well and good, except that I can’t listen to them. Not ‘won’t‘, ‘can’t‘ – the numbers don’t add up. Even if we ignore the 8000 myspace friends I deleted before christmas, we’re still looking and thousands of interactions. Even if I only listened to one song from each, that’s upwards of 4000 minutes of listening time, just to grant each of them a cursory ear. And given that a handful of them will really catch my imagination, I’ll probably end up listening to them a lot over time.

    Add in that my listening time is already taken up by copious amounts of the music I love and a fair chunk of trusted friend recommendations, and the amount of time I have available to check out random stuff thrown at me on Myspace is tiny.

    So what are we to do?

    Let’s use me as TWO case studies. First as a music fan/listener.

    Some facts about music-listening-Stevie:

    • I love discovering new music
    • Other than ‘it’s great’, it’s pretty tough for me to define a type of music I like. The one nearly-unifying element is that I tend to go for music with a story, whether vocal or instrumental.
    • [As it relates to the second point, ‘Solo bass’ is not, as far as I can tell, a genre. Neither should it be.]
    • I listen to an awful lot of music by people I know/have met.
    • I discover a lot of music from friends recommending it.
    • I have online a list of ALL the music I’ve listened to over the last 5 years.
    • Meeting an artist quite often moves their music from ‘have heard‘ to ‘required listening‘ in my estimations.
    • That being said, the majority of my music listening time is spent listening to things I already love.

    So, what does all that mean?

    It means I’m not going to listen to a band just because they ‘add’ me. I resent the idea that I should spend my valuable time on music without context. The worst culprits of this (it’s why I included it in the list above) are solo bass players. I say ‘worst’ – to be fair, it makes sense that they would send stuff my way. After all, I am a solo bass player and am interested in what’s going on within the field of solo bass performance, but only as it over-laps with great music! I’ve never been into the gymnastic, technical side of music. If it doesn’t work as a straight recording, without explanation, it doesn’t work for me.

    Right, so just sending me a message saying ‘check out my solo bass stuff‘ isn’t going to cut it. which of those other points give us angles to work?

    What we need to look for are where the filters are, and how to get into those filter-streams. So what flags music for me as being worth investigating? largly these two:

    • My friends recommend it,
    • or I know the artist…

    It’s pretty safe to say that ALL the musicians on twitter that I’ve bothered to click through and listen to are those who I find interesting apart from their music.

    Is it an efficient way of finding great music? Possibly, possibly not. But it does provide me with a few things:

    • a way of just cutting down the sheer numbers. Relatively arbitrarily, but it works.
    • a way into one of those things I like about music: the story – I’m actually getting the story first, then the soundtrack…
    • a way of making sure I’m less likely to listen to music by people I don’t like. There’s SO MUCH amazing music out there, I might as well limit myself to listening to the ones I really like as people 🙂
    • a way of encouraging people AWAY from spam and TOWARDS engagement. It’s what I want, it’s what I do, it’s what works.

    And In Part II of ‘The Problem Of Time’, I’ll talk about what this does for me as a musician.

    How does this chime with your experience of finding music online? Similar? Completely different? How much GREAT music have you found? I’d love to hear your experiences.

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

    Pre-NAMM Social Media Seminar/Workshop, in Santa Ana, Jan 14th.

    January 8th, 2009 · Comments Off on Pre-NAMM Social Media Seminar/Workshop, in Santa Ana, Jan 14th.

    Gig survival kit - it takes more than strings and cables...Finally, the details have been nailed down, and thanks to the wikkid organisational skillz of the wonderful Geoff Hickman, I’ll be doing a ‘future of social media for music makers’ masterclass in Santa Ana, the night before NAMM starts.

    Date: Jan 14th
    Time: 7.30pm
    Venue: The Olde Ship, Santa Ana (map)
    Cost: $15.00

    Description:

    Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got… no, wait, that’s the Cheers theme-tune… anyway, it’s true that the times they have a-changed for anyone trying to make it in the music world – record labels are resorting to increasingly desperate measures to make money and artists are getting squeezed. The smart money is definitely on handling your own career, out there on the world wide interwebs. But how? There are million services promising audience reach, targeted email addresses, high profile this and big bucks that… most of which are glorified spam email campaigns. So what can we do? How can we, in the words of Rage Against The Machine, ‘Take the Power Back‘?

    “Enter Steve Lawson, a solo bassist and ambient/electronic music pioneer from the UK.

    “Steve’s managed to keep his career buoyant for the last decade, all via online interaction direct with his audience. He was exploring social media tools before the term ‘social media’ existed, and was using the web to connect with fans and fellow artists back in the heady days of Web 1.0.

    “These days he splits his time between playing his beguiling cinematic music – at venues ranging from house concerts to the Royal Albert Hall – and teaching other musicians how to form genuine connections with their audience, to understand the new attention economy of the internet, and make the most of the opportunities that are out there. It’s not easy, it’s not a get rich quick scheme, and it probably won’t result in you making a million. But if that’s what you’re looking for, buy a lottery ticket. The music world has never been a good place to get rich. This is a chance to discuss, to ask questions and to come up with workable strategies for finding the people who want your music to soundtrack their lives. Sounds great, huh?”

    There you go. Please do forward this page to any friends of yours who are going to NAMM, and may benefit from a lil’ StevieStyle social media make-over.

    And if you’re at NAMM, please do drop by and say hi. Lobelia and I will be at the Looperlative, Modulus and Accugroove booths as well as around and about. And we’ll be tweeting, streaming some video, and generally having a lark!

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

    Featured Artist at Reverb Nation…

    November 26th, 2008 · Comments Off on Featured Artist at Reverb Nation…

    steve lawson featured on reverb nation's front page. Monday night’s album launch was amazing – thanks to all who came along. More on that v. soon, as well as all the other blog posts I’ve been promising to write for so long…

    But in the news dept, I’ve just had an email telling me that I’m a featured artist this week on the front page of Reverb NationReverb Nation is what Myspace should have been like if they hadn’t found it more interesting to give old dudes a way to hit on teenage girls instead of making a site where people can actually find new music. It’s a great platform, and the speed at which it is evolving, growing and improving is remarkable. Do check it out if you haven’t seen it before.

    They also get how information posted on social networks needs to be ‘tearable’, portable and aggregate-able, so just about all the data you put on there can be embedded anywhere else as widgets, and you can add your twitter account as a status update on there, and link it to other services (including myspace).

    Anyway, my Reverb Nation page is at www.reverbnation.com/stevelawson – and from there you can download an ENTIRE free album – Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt II. It’s a pretty good introduction to what I do when I play solo.

    (you can download another free album from Last.fm here

    Tags: Music News · website recommendations

    Myspace friend-cull. Who, How, Why.

    November 23rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Myspace friend-cull. Who, How, Why.

    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