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

Where Youtube fits in the new music economy…

February 13th, 2008 · Comments Off on Where Youtube fits in the new music economy…

So I’ve been posting loads of Youtube clips in the last couple of days, and have thus been thinking a fair bit about what youtube does for a musician and where it fits.

Firstly, it’s another huge ecosystem to inhabit – so much of the ‘social networking’ scene is about self contained ecosystems. Which can be good and bad – for example, Myspace friend acquisition is largely its own currency – the seeming failure of Snocap to make any real dent in the online sales world seems fundamentally to be because ‘what goes on in myspace stays in myspace’ by and large – the bit of it that extends is gigs. So you build an audience, and some exposure, but that’s through interaction not friend requesting. I saw a page today of a guy with 77,000 friends but only 90 plays today. Contrast that with Lobelia’s page, where she trimmed her friends list down from 4000 to 300 (it’s crept back up to 400 now), but reguarly has 50 plays in a day. 50 plays isn’t a huge amount in myspace terms, but they are more likely to be people actually listening, and the idea that to double that requires another 76,600 friends is clearly laughable.

So, sorry, back to YouTube – it’s another ecosystem that people inhabit. A heck of a lot of people use youtube for ‘one shot listening’ – you think of a classic tune and want to hear it. chuck it into youtube and there’s more than likely a version of it up there, possibly a live one, or one that’s been coupled to a new video, or a bootleg, or often the original video, perfect for nostalgic moments. There are also cover versions (more on that in a moment).

So what do you get? First up you get the ‘human face of music’ – watching a video of someone playing a song live has way more human impact than just downloading an MP3 – you see them react to their own music, you see them smile, frown, close their eyes, twiddle their fingers etc… it’s a secondary level of engagement beyond just listening. Also, there’s the really simple equation that if you watch someone play live, you’re more likely to want to go and see them play live.

For me, the single biggest disconnect between what I do on stage and my records is that my records are generally not noticeably silly or funny. On stage, I talk a lot of bollocks, which most of the people who come and see me play like (I’m sure it’s pissed off the occasional person, especially in london where ‘jazz face’ or indie-indifference are the order of the day, but hey, fuck ’em.) Youtube allows people to see some of that – I can post videos with me talking before the song, or just mucking about mid song…

the other great thing for musicians with youtube is that it’s built to be viral… it’s made for sharing. The videos can be embedded and linked from anywhere, there are widgets for it on every other site, they can be stumbled and digg-ed and facebooked and myspaced, and there’s social capital in sharing cool vids.

For the most part, the marketeers suggest keeping your viral vids to 30 seconds, but that’s the adverts, we’re not interested in selling holidays or washing powder here, this is about connecting with real music… So the viral element will be curtailed slightly, but the quality of the response will no doubt be higher…

The last thing about youtube that’s useful is that extracting the (already massively compressed) audio and ripping it as an MP3 is both time consuming and due to the quality drop, largely pointless, so it’s a great way to dish out low res promo material that is very unlikely to impinge on sales. Unless your videos are purely information-based (I wonder what youtube has done to sales of tuitional DVDs given that so much of that stuff is ripped an uploaded. If I saw something really cool on youtube, I’d be more inclined to head off and buy it. I wonder if they’ll ever incorporate a ‘related link’ option for sales, downloads, websites etc? I guess that would break the wall of the ecosystem…

anyway, please do go and check out the new vids I’ve posted, and go viral with them (or if not viral, at least mildly bacterial) – the video below is getting a lot of traffic, and was up to #14th most viewed UK music video earlier today… so watch it, pass it on, rate it, stumble it, and help me out. :o)

and these are the most recent two that I’ve uploaded. MMFSOG –

and People Get Ready –

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

Reverb Nation plug in for Facebook 'pages'…

February 2nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Reverb Nation plug in for Facebook 'pages'…

Reverb Nation has already got one of the best sets of tools for musicians thus far available on the web, with embeddable widgets, RSS feeds and more.

Their ‘My Band’ application for Facebook profiles was a great way to show your friends what you do (never underestimate the importance of your actual friends as part of your audience… more on that later, perhaps), and now it works on Facebook ‘pages’ too.

So instead of having to send facebook scanned documents and all that other privacy-breaching weirdness, you can just have your Reverb Nation info and songs appear on your Facebook band page.

You can also use iLike to put music and info on facebook page… and then each of those applications have their own artist page within facebook… Damn, this is getting very clumsy… These pages HAVE to start accepting information ‘pushed’ into them from a central point, even if it’s only gig dates… Let’s see what happens when Myspace open up their API – I doubt they’re going to be the front-runners in open formats, given that they’re slowly morphing into facebook-lite at the moment, but we can hope… Facebook are rubbish at accepting data, (probably because they’re way too obsessed with the advertising revenue of page impressions to allow anyone to upload any info without clicking on at least four pages with ads on them…

Still, if I hear any more, I’ll let you know. :o)

Tags: cool links · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Reverb Nation picking up a head of steam…

December 28th, 2007 · Comments Off on Reverb Nation picking up a head of steam…

I’ve blogged about Reverb Nation quite a few times, but it’s always worth another heads up as the user base is growing, and people’s familiarity with the two Facebook plug-ins (My Band for musicians and Reverb Nation for fans) is also growing.

The widgets on their site are a great way of compiling players for all your favourite artists onto one page, as Kev Cooke has done on his myspace page.

They still don’t accept information ‘pushed’ to the site, and don’t allow all that much tweaking and customisation of the widgets themselves, but the range of sizes available is a great idea, and the basic design is pretty cool looking…

Here are a few of the widgets for me, for playing music, adding to the mailing list, and showing your gigs…


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Oh, and if you go to my reverb nation page and click on the ‘favourites’ tab, you’ll see all the fantastic musicians I know that are on there, with more stuff being added all the time!

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

New EP! New EP!

December 6th, 2007 · Comments Off on New EP! New EP!

Right, with no advance notice at all, Lobelia and I have a new live EP available. It’s a pre-release of some of the tracks that will be on our live album, coming out towards the middle of next year, and features three bass ‘n’ voice duo tunes and two solo tunes of mine. Track list is –

Happy (7:34)
MMFSOG (4:09)
I’m Lost (5:11)
Rain (9:14)
Jimmy James (6:51)

The version of MMFSOG is by far the best take of that tune I’ve ever recorded, and the version of Jimmy James is an all-fretless one. The tracks were all recorded live at Power Base Studio in Nebraska earlier in the year.

“So how do we get one of these lovely very limited edition discs?” I hear you cry… All you have to do is send £5 via paypal or nochex, which includes WORLDWIDE POSTAGE AND PACKING. (send it to steve[at]steve[dash]lawson[dot]co[dot]uk please)

What’s more, if you buy this disc now, it’ll save you £2 when the album comes out.

The CD itself is a CDR with all the info printed on the disc, and comes in a pretty plastic clam-shell case, like these –

To make it easy, here’s a paypal button which goes straight to the ‘pay Steve £5 for his and Lo’s delicious new CD’ page –















and in the player below, you can listen to the first track from it – ‘Happy’. It’s fab! :o)


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Enjoy…

Tags: Music News

Payplay.fm – download sales

December 3rd, 2007 · Comments Off on Payplay.fm – download sales

Thanks to the lovelies at cdbaby.com, my music is on something like 42 digital download stores. The majority of my download sales still come from itunes, my own store and emusic, with some paid plays on napster and rhapsody.

But every now and again, a new one starts up that has some interesting ideas. So it is with payplay.fm, who do sales widgets, as well as free downloads and fun stuff like that for their users. Check them out, and if you want to grab a few tracks from my last album, you can do it here –

Easy..

If you’re a musician with albums out and your music isn’t on Cdbaby, you’re probably missing out on possible revenue, and a whole lot of great ideas… head over to cdbaby.net for more info…

Tags: cool links · Music News · New Music Strategies

Facebook for musicians – a jumbled mess?

November 25th, 2007 · 10 Comments

One of the massive challenges facing the world of social networking and how it interfaces with marketing (in our case, marketing music) is the area of integration – simply put, how can information uploaded be spread across MySpace, Facebook, Last.fm etc. without us needing to add everything to all of them individually… How can the data from one site be output to be processed by another… The formats and web-standards are there for it to work in the form of RSS/XML, Microformat mark-up and feeds, but very few sites will ACCEPT information that way. Some output it – Reverb Nation generate RSS feeds of gig dates for artists, and last.fm generates ical feeds of the gigs you’ve added to your profile etc. but neither of them will accept input from an hcal formatted page…

Anyway, all of that stuff is lightyears away for the increasingly lumbering behemoth that is Facebook because they cant even get integration to work within their own f-ing site!!!

“What’s the problem?”, you ask, perfectly reasonably. Well, at the moment, there are number of tools for musicians on facebook, their ‘flagship’ idea being Pages – that is, public pages that you can create for a band, product, service, whatever. You create your band page, then folks add themselves as ‘fans’.

However, they also have an excellent app. for ordinary facebook profiles called ‘My Band’ – created by the lovelies at Reverb Nation, it puts your reverb nation player onto your facebook profile (note, not your ‘page’), and even has a separate page for each artist within facebook, and allows your friends to sign up as ‘a fan’. Can you see a huge crossover in purpose here? Of course.

“Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way of connecting the two?” Yes it would, good question, well done.
“Well, is there?” It would appear not.

And to make matters worse, there’s also no link between your Reverb Nation My Band app. fans on facebook and your fans that are actually on your Reverb Nation page.

So what needs to happen? Well, it would be great if Facebook did a proper hook up with Reverb Nation and started to allow embedding the ‘My Band’ player into the page – they could make it the heart of the page in the way that the myspace player is the thing that made that site work so well. That may well entail Facebook buying Reverb Nation – I’m not sure that the corporate side of the Facebook machine would be all that happy about that close a hook-up with a partner rather than a subsidiary – but either way, it’d make it work much better, and would definitely be a giant leap towards Facebook’s aim of finishing off MySpace… It would then mean that there would be proper integration between the embedded Reverb Nation widgets that litter all kinds of pages, and the Reverb Nation Facebook plug-in for fans.

For now though, here are the resources you need to get started, and have the stuff in place when it all starts. These are also the links to follow if you want to check out my music on facebook, and become a fan (which you’ll have to do at least three times for blanket coverage! :o) – you’ll need to log-in to Facebook to access any of the pages there…

My ReverbNation.com page
My Facebook artist ‘Page’

The reverbnation listener plugin for Facebook – for anyone else wanting to add my music to their page, to help spread the word.

If you’re on Facebook, please do add yourself as a fan.

Tags: Geek · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians · website recommendations

web ubiquity – web 2.0 smarts for musicians

October 22nd, 2007 · Comments Off on web ubiquity – web 2.0 smarts for musicians

I don’t know if you ever look at the stats for your website, but a HUGE amount of the traffic that my site and my blog get are from search engines. Google is the heart of the way most people use the web. This is no bad thing, but it does mean that presenting a website that’s designed to trap information within it in the vain hope that people will love you enough to type your URL into their address bar every morning only to find that you’ve added nothing, or maybe one gig on another continent to them isn’t going to work.

No, one of the most important aspects of the shift from scarcity to ubiquity is that it’s not just about proliferation of recorded music. In fact, i’d go s far as to say that information about you, and the proliferation of your brand over and above the music is even more important, as it generates interest in the music before people have even iistened, and helps to frame their listening in some way.

This is why being everywhere is vital in web-world. So here’s vol. I of a short list of tasks you can do yourselves, without needing a webmaster to sort it out for you:

  • Get a Flickr account – free photohosting and a whole lot more. Flickr is a huge community of visually minded web people, who love seeing well-taken pictures of bands and gigs and touring and all the interesting stuff in your life. Start a second unpaid career as a photojournalist, link to it from your website, and let your audience into a little of the visual side of your world.
  • Sign up for a last.fm user account – your music is already on there, right? Well, there are two ways to use last.fm – one is uploading music, the other is logging what you listen to. it’s a great way to give your audience a handle on the music that makes you tick, and also to give props and some publicity to the great stuff that you’re listening to. Add one of the last.fm widgets to your site so people can see at a glance what you’re listening to this week. Last.fm also has a journal section, so you can post reviews of what your friends and heroes are up to – share the love!
  • Youtube – start your own channel, and get some videos up on there. Don’t just leave it to people with phone-cams to post crap, get some footage up there, and preferably something of you talking too. For some reason people are fascinated by what musicians’ voices sound like when they talk. Weird, but true.
  • Sign up for facebook – yeah, I know, it’s for college kids trying to pick up hotties and tragic 30 somethings who think it’s the cooler version of friends reunited for hooking up with your childhood sweetheart. Right, but it’s also got a whole shedload of useful things for connecting with your friends, peers and audience who are also probably on there. You can put your myspace player on there, your last.fm profile, your reverb nation widget so people can listen to you, and RSS feeds of whatever other information you are generating. Which brings us to our last one…
  • start a blog! You’re reading this, that proves they work. You can blog about all kinds of things – when you’re working a lot, just short updates on tour highlights, or excitement in the studio – post links to your flickr pics and youtube vids for the full interactive experience. When you’re not so busy, or have a little bit of time, use it to big up the people you play with. Musicians can be so damned self-obsessed that they never bother to give back the kind of recognition they so readily crave and grasp at for themselves. Come on, if you’ve got a platform, use it to help everyone out. It’s good for all of us.

when you do, make sure you get accurate stats about what’s going on with your blog and site, and do the same for any RSS feeds you’ve got going on. And don’t be disheartened if you have 10 readers a week for the first while. Blog proliferation is often slow and steady, just keep blogging about interesting stuff, get it registered with Technorati so that they get updates from it and people can find you on searches, add social bookmarking tags (pretty easy to do in Moveable Type and WordPress at least, or addable to your feed via Feedburner), so people can share the love, and link back to all your favourite reads, so they get some of the love too…

I often get asked how it is that i seem to be everywhere in the online bass and looping world, and the truth is that it’s just been through constant involvement in those online communities for over 10 years. For a couple of years, I was the only bass teacher in europe with his own website, was one of the first solo bassists to get music up online, was one of the first featured pros on talkbass, a regular contributor to loopers-delight, and crucially, had some fine music for people to check out when they cam back to my site… i was a little late in the game on MySpace, pretty early at last.fm, very slow to get with flickr and stumbleupon… I also for years kept an archive of all the articles i’d written for bassist magazine on my site, which brings us full circle back to Google at the heart of the web – I used to get SOOO much traffic via that. I only took it down cos I changed servers and the Database that it was running in was incompatible with the new server. That’s why I’m reposting the best of the interviews here…

Regardless on your feelings about the proliferation of digital recordings, ubiquity online is unquestionably a good thing for a musician. But it takes time and effort, and isn’t the kind of thing that happens over night. If you’re savvy, it shouldn’t take 10 years of online geeking like it did for me, but it will take some time. The alternative is to pay some web designer somewhere £25 an hour to do it all for you, and if that’s your preferred route, I know a couple of lovely friendly geeks who will happily take your money from you. :o)

Tags: cool links · New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

New unreleased tunes!

September 25th, 2007 · Comments Off on New unreleased tunes!

Thanks to the wonders of ReverbNation, I’ve uploaded a bunch of new tunes that you can have a listen to… The tracks in the player, embedded below, are a previously unheard live version of Scott Peck, a live version of Uncle Bernie from a forthcoming live album with Theo Travis and ‘Endo’ from the brand new ‘Calamateur vs Steve Lawson’ album that will be appearing in my online shop at some point in this week.

Enjoy – just click on the picture!


Steve Lawson

Tags: cool links · Music News

Geekery update…

September 13th, 2007 · Comments Off on Geekery update…

Well, the blog is all now viewable – hurrah! And ALMOST all my website is validated – I’ve learnt loads about code-monkey-ness in the last three days, with lots of help from sarda, Lovely G, Matt and Drew – Drew was particularly interesting as the validator told me my code was nonsense, and sent me over to an article about geek things, that Drew had written, and I know Drew through Greenbelt-y things – he’s another of the lovely Greenbelt Geeks.

So, where I’m at now is that it all ‘works’, and I’ve given up trying to get everything to validate, because I was having to completely rewrite java files and bits of code to try and get round the code generated by the widget-creators at last.fm, Jaiku. I’ve managed to edit all the last.fm player widgets – the one on the front page, and the ones on the MP3s page – here’s the code for the one on the front page, should you use last.fm plug-ins and want to get round the ’embed’ stuff that doesn’t validate –


<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://panther1.
last.fm/webclient/55/defaultEmbedPlayer.swf" width="540" height="123"&rt;
<param name="movie" value="http://panther1.last.fm/webclient/55/
defaultEmbedPlayer.swf"&rt;<param name="FlashVars"
value="viral=true&lfmMode=playlist&resourceID=464639
&resourceType=10&restTitle=Best of Steve Lawson&albumArt
=http://cdn.last.fm/coverart/130x130/2420746.jpg&labelName=
Pillow+Mountain"&rt;<param name="wmode" value="transparent"&rt;
</object&rt;

the key to it is the data= bit, taken from the article by Drew. there you go, geeks!

Tags: Geek