stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



SoloBassSteve.com = Forum 2.0

June 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

For quite a few years before all this social media stuff got properly conversational, this site was the home of a burgeoning forum. It was created in PHPBB and was home to many a wonderful discussion about all kinds of things, some of them directly related to what I was up to as a musician, but many of them just driven by the supremely fascinating people who would hang out there.

As web-based conversations moved around, Twitter became a really great place for the kind of link-sharing and funny comment stuff that was often the forum’s stock and trade, and many of the forum regulars moved over. It’s been great, and chatting to those people on a weekly-sometimes-daily basis on twitter is a wonderful thing.

But some things were also lost when the forum traffic slowed right down, namely the essays that some of the contributors would sometimes write, and the threaded conversations that would often happen as a result of a link to a news story or link to a youtube video. [Read more →]

Tags: site updates

How To Respond To A Crisis. A Lesson From Sungard.

June 18th, 2009 · Comments Off on How To Respond To A Crisis. A Lesson From Sungard.

I have a friend who works in Marketing for Sungardthey’re a huge, multi-national, multi-billion dollar IT Services/financial information/Software company. Massive. Bigger than big.

What interesting for us musical types is their response to the financial crisis. A situation which, naturally, they took very seriously indeed, partly because they were deeply affected, but also because it was a time when all the big finance companies were being shaken up, and previously held notions of who were the ‘big players’ could be re-jigged. It was a chance for companies to rebrand, reposition, and use the recession as a chance to do some fairly risky thinking, and ask some massive questions. [Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.

Open Letter To The UK Jazz Community Pt V – Blogging.

May 11th, 2009 · Comments Off on Open Letter To The UK Jazz Community Pt V – Blogging.

photo of Corey Mwamba at the BarbicanAt the end of Pt IV, I said that band leaders could consider not hiring musicians who don’t blog to help promote the music. A few of you didn’t like that idea, suggesting that it’s all about the music, and why should someone have to be a writer in order to play music?

To which my answer is twofold:

  • Firstly, I did say ‘it’s not a hard and fast rule – you don’t want to, you don’t have to. But…
  • Secondly, you don’t have to be a writer to have a blog. You just have to want to tell people about cool stuff that’s going on around you. Some of the best blogs are a collection of really short posts – they’re a little bit of information, and some kind of embedded media. If you feel inspired to elaborate, or to write in the kind of long form article-based way that I do, that’s great, but that’s not why musicians should be blogging.

[Read more →]

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

New Adventures In Mobile (CSS)

March 15th, 2009 · Comments Off on New Adventures In Mobile (CSS)

Screen grab of the opera mobile demo from opera.comSo, for the last couple of days I’ve been working on a mobile version of this site. It’s the same site, same pages, just the design is tweaked to make it look better on a mobile handset. It’s easy enough to do, using CSS. CSS stands for ‘Cascading Style Sheets’, and is a way of labeling elements on a web page, and then controlling the way that everything that has that label is formatted. But because the machine you look at a web page on can be identified as a computer or as a mobile, you can have a different stylesheet for each type.
[Read more →]

Tags: Geek · site updates · tips for musicians

Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch news.

September 16th, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch news.

As if all the geeking in Helsinki wasn’t enough, we’re actually in the home stretch with the release of the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album, which is now officially called Numbers. The album should be available for pre order and download in the next few days, and what’s more, we’ve got a launch gig booked, and therefor an official release date!

The gig will be on November 24th, at The Vortex in Dalston, London.

I’ll be heading over to see Patrick and Roy on Thursday, with the aim of recording some videos telling the story of the project. That will be lots of fun.

Oh, and for those that case about such things, this entire post was written on my Nokia N95, using a WordPress posting app called Scribe – proper mobile blogging FTW!

So watch this space for news of the album going on sale in the next day or so…

Tags: gig dates

New site, new blog home, new shop…

May 7th, 2008 · 5 Comments

As you’ll have seen by now (unless you’re reading this in an RSS reader), there’ve been a lot of changes round here – the design of stevelawson.net has now shifted into wordpress, the shop is still zencart, but has been given a facelift and most significantly, the blog is now hosted here too, integrated into the rest of the site.

The task of getting everything to forward to the right place was pretty huge – given how highly this blog indexes in google, it was vital that all those link redirected properly to this one, and I had SO much help from my herd of sure-footed trusty geeks: James Stewart, Rev. Gareth, Mike Arthur and The Captain. Gentleman and scholars to a man. I now fully understand why properly trained geeks get paid so much money – they can save you so much money. James did a couple of things this afternoon that quite literally saved me 3-4 complete days of editing URLs and stuff…

The tags from the old site still haven’t copied across, and a lot of the little pages that are littered around the old design still need to be imported and linked to (old gig reviews etc), but we’re getting there, slowly.

I hope you like the new design. Feel free to try out the new shop – if anything does go a bit weird, just email me, and we’ll sort it out – there’s no way you’re going to lose money on the deal, cos it’s actually me who runs it, so if there’s a problem, I can just FTP you the files for the download or pop a CD in an envelope, no worries 🙂

Enjoy…

Tags: Geek · site updates

Reviews

May 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

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I’ve had loads of great press for my solo albums and gigs – have a read of some of it below!

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Behind Every Word CD Reviews –

Grace And Gratitude CD Reviews –

For The Love Of Open Spaces CD Reviews –

Not Dancing For Chicken CD Reviews –

Conversations CD Reviews –

And Nothing But The Bass reviews –

Gig Reviews –

Interviews –

Tags:

Seth Godin on spam, email and right to contact…

April 13th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Thanks to this post on lovely Valerie Gonyea’s blog, I’ve found very cool quote from this great post by Seth Godin:

“Here, it’s simple:

You can contact just about anyone you want. The only rule is you need to contact them personally, with respect, and do it months before you need their help! Contact them about them, not about you. Engage. Contribute. Question. Pay attention. Read. Interact.

Then, when you’ve earned the right to attention and respect, months and months later, sure, ask. It takes a lot of time and effort, which is why volume isn’t the answer for you, quality is.

That’s a great way to get a job, promote a site, make a friend, spread the word or just be a human.”

I’ve been telling people this for years – the ONLY way to get any kind of meaningful interaction with people is to earn the right to meaningful interaction. Requesting interaction via spam, or demanding it without context is not only rude, it’s entirely unproductive.

The two worst places for this online at the moment are Myspace and Twitter – Myspace is particularly crass, with the mass email spam machines that often ask a lot of you but can’t be bothered to interact at all. The Twitter variation is to ‘follow’ people, post a load of links to products and marketing crap and somehow expect people to take notice. Bollocks. It’s SO not going to happen. If you’ve got 15,000 fans on myspace and the only conversation on your page is endless formularised ‘thanks for the add’ comments, I’m going to ignore you.

Likewise on Twitter, if you’re following 3,000 people, never reply to anyone else’s comments and only ever post obscured links to marketing stuff, there’s no way I’m going to follow you.

Here’s my musicians addendum to Seth’s comment: Nobody owes you any attention at all. You don’t respond well to spam, so why on earth would you expect anyone else to? It doesn’t matter how important you think your music is, you’ve still got to earn the right to request attention from your audience. Likewise, the chances of people finding your music and falling in love with it are miniscule unless you’re inviting people in and providing context for understanding what you do and an environment for interaction with you as they get into you and your noises.

Web 2.0 is neither about a collection of static info sheets, nor scatter-shot spam broadcasting. It’s about interaction, communication, discussion, sharing, conversation, context, experience, experiment and fun.

Anyway, read Seth’s post, it’s great, and go interactive!

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

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

stop the war protest, London, Oct 8th

October 9th, 2007 · 2 Comments

So yesterday was the Stop The War protest in London. Starting with a rally in Trafalgar Square, and then a march down Whitehall to Parliament Square. It was a relatively small affair (relative to the 2 million who descended on london on the eve of the war back in 2002), but the ranks were swelled by the Government’s attempts to declare it illegal – something on which they wisely made a u-turn at the last minute.

The speeches were the typical ‘preaching to the converted’ arrangement – does anyone go to a rally like this to get information? To have their opinions changed? I guess they have value as part of the process of disseminating information, statistics and updates on things that haven’t been in the press, but having lots of lovely trade unionists shouting at a government who aren’t listening to ‘get out of Iraq’ seemed a bit of a waste of time… Anyway, Mark Thomas and Mark Steele were both good value as always, George Galloway was as self-aggrandising as usual, and the former-SAS soldier was rather poignant. I didn’t get to hear Walter Wolfgang or Brian Haw, but I guess they were probably interesting too.

The march then proceeded down Whitehall, which was fine til we arrived at Parliament Square to find the square itself fenced off, and the police blocking the road and not really explaining to anyone what was going on. I asked a friendly looking officer, who told me it was ‘probably to get the people through into the square in larger groups’, as opposed to the stretched out nature of the march… Fair enough, would’ve made sense to let people know.

So they proceeded to let the march through in chunks, and herd people off down Millbank, instead of allowing them to assemble in the square, which quite understandably pissed off a lot of people. There didn’t appear to be any reason not to allow people into the square. Tempers flared a little, and a group of anarchists staged a sit down protest in the middle of the road at the junction between whitehall and the square. Nothing major kicked off, but it did expose the lack of a plan that the police had…

Anyway, a few observations… As Jyoti very wisely points out, while the minor altercations between the police and anarchists in the square became a protest about the right to protest, the main purpose of the day was to continue to voice the need for the UK government to a) be held to account for their part in the political disaster and human tragedy that is Iraq, b) to call for the withdrawal of troops who only seem to be rubbing salt into the wounds of a deeply lacerated country, and c) to call on the government to be unequivocal in condemning the disastrous idea of a US or Israeli military strike on Iran. Those are not, by their nature partisan political demands. They don’t require a subscription to a particular doctrine or left/right divide. So it’s a shame that the terms of engagement are defined by the old school left, the trade union movement, and the constituents of the march itself were largely dominated by the ‘usual suspects’ – trade unionists, students, hippies, religious activists and leftie political groups.

This is certainly to the shame of the anti-war contingent to the centre and right of the political spectrum, but is also a reflection of the culture within which such protests are formulated and implemented. In this ultra-brand-conscious times, the Stop The War coalition is only a partial coalition, of the aforementioned groups, and has managed to marginalise those whose opposition to the war is through a broader ethical and humanitarian framework, and less through a strongly held belief in the democratic right to protest in the tradition of the post-Marx left, trade unions and the ‘real’ Labour movement…

I’m not sure what needs to be done to change this – perhaps such people enact their democratic right to protest in other ways, via web activism, personal lobbying of MPs, signing petitions etc. But as a show of strength of opinion, few things carry the same weight in media-savvy times as footage of hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. I’m not sure how many were there yesterday – 10,000? perhaps. As a percentage of the number of people who distrust the government over their actions on the middle east, it’s paltry. Still enough to make a noise, but certainly evidence that a hell of a lot of people don’t feel inspired by or included in the Stop The War Coalition…

Anyway, it was good to be there, very lovely to see Jyoti again, and important to be a part of such a thing, and lend my support to such an obviously positive message.

click here to view a slideshow of my pictures from the day

Tags: Rant - Politics, Spirituality, etc.