Music Is Worthless

The BBC have an article today, in which they report on Rob Dickins, former head of Warner Music UK, saying that albums should cost a £1.

It’s a fairly radical step, and there’s some merit in what he says, as a response to currently-illegal downloading, within a fixed price market.

However, what’s missing from this is the simple fact that music is worthless. ‘Music’ as in noises that fit within the ‘organised sound’ definition that most of us recognise as music, has no inherent value at all. All the value is contextual. It can be invested, it can be enhanced, it can even be manufactured counter to any previously measured notions of ‘quality’ with a particular idiom, but it’s not innate. Noise is not a saleable commodity. Continue reading “Music Is Worthless”

50,000 Tweets – A Love Story

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:

    Exploring Different Models For Creativity: Slow Food/Infrablab compared.

    Aside from the fact that I’m REALLY proud of the music on both albums, the biggest kick I’ve had out of the Slow Food/Infrablab project with Trip Wamsley has been the ability to so accurately contrast the differences and similarities in the methodology, practice and outcome of our music making.

    Here they are, side by side, have a listen:

    It’s rare that you get the indulgence of doing two records under identical technical constraints, as a ‘test case’ for those methodologies. Which made the experience of playing with Trip even more enjoyable than it would’ve been if we’d just been doing an album the old fashioned way with, y’know, written songs and shit… Continue reading “Exploring Different Models For Creativity: Slow Food/Infrablab compared.”

    Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 4 – Imaginary Robot Ninja Assistant

    You can download Imaginary Robot Ninja Assistant here, and the whole Slow Food album here.

    Who doesn’t have an imaginary robot ninja assistant? Fixing stuff, being awesome, ass-kicking when needed, and, uhm, assisting…

    When I finally get my real Robot Ninja Assistant, it will sing like this track.

    And I’d understand every word it sang.

    This is how all robots should sing.

    It’s a love song.

    Nowhere near as dark as it sounds to us.

    Robot harmony is different, y’see, not based on dodgy fudged physics. Theirs is the essence of rock ‘n’ roll.

    And ninjas.

    The main loop on this is, I think, me looping some of Trip’s weird noises. I don’t actually join in til about half way through. Quality weirdness 🙂

    Great New Album From She Makes War

    OK, I’m going to interrupt my ‘track by track’ breakdown of my own new album to tell you about a GREAT record by my lovely friend Laura Kidd, AKA She Makes War.

    Here it is, in its entirety, on bandcamp (naturally) – hit play while you’re reading this (and then hit the ‘buy’ button when you’ve finished):

    Laura is a true renaissance woman – singer/songwriter/producer/videographer/session bassist/blogger/social tech ninja/web designer… A huge skill set, all of which has come into play on the process of making the album and telling stories around it. Continue reading “Great New Album From She Makes War”

    Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 3 – Growing Up And Moving On

    [sorry for the break in posts – was away at Greenbelt over the weekend]

    You can download Growing Up And Moving On here, or the whole Slow Food album here.

    This was the first thing we recorded. It is, I think the most edited too… Perhaps.

    Nerves? Expectations?

    Trip and I met 11 years ago. We wouldn’t have played like this then. We were young. Unformed. A different world.

    We’ve moved on, up, out, through… Sometimes in parallel, sometimes divergent, always with a bass in hand.

    It’s a slow build, the underlying loop changes not. The emotions evolve. We’re exploring, tentatively (it’s the first thing we played, remember?) Satisfied as it unfolds.

    It’s good. Let’s play more.

    Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 1 – The Upward Spiral

    Click here to download The Upward Spiral. And here to download the whole ‘Slow Food’ album.

    It was really tricky to choose the opener for the album, and this wasn’t the obvious first choice, as it has a kind of false start… it feels likes it’s going to be all big and ambient, then Trip hints at a sparse bass groove, I switch to the rolling rhythmic line, he follows, then jumps in with the jaunty melody, switches to fretless…

    Two minutes in, it’s hopefully clear why it’s the opener.

    Joyous, optimistic, improvised music. That’s the idea.

    Of course it turns into a freaky glitch-fest at the end, but not before a crescendo of euphoric blade-runner-esque cinematic guitar-ish-ness.

    All hail the Kaoss Pad KP3. Nuff Said.

    “Slow Food” With Trip Wamsley AKA Making Music With Awesome Musicians.

    Here it is!

    If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll be all-too-familiar with ‘it’ – the first of two duo albums with Trip Wamsley. I blogged about them here, and at the time thought they’d both be EPs. Well, I’m not sure about Trip’s release, but this one has grown into a full album – all 42 glorious minutes of it. Continue reading ““Slow Food” With Trip Wamsley AKA Making Music With Awesome Musicians.”

    What’s A Download Worth? Part 1 – The MASSIVE Downloader…

    Following on from the BPI and their mad statistic that £200 MILLION is lost in UK music revenue due to ‘illegal downloading’, (their head of public affairs attempted to defend the notion, based on ‘research’ they’d done at the all party meeting last week. Balls.) I thought it’d be worth talking about what a download is worth.

    Because, clearly, a collection of bytes on a harddrive isn’t, in and of itself, worth anything. It’s also not ‘taken’ from a central repository of bytes that gets smaller as it is dipped into. In fact, every time a new person downloads it, more ‘product’ is able to exist. If bands were in a situation where for every CD they gave away, they were given another 2 CDs to give away, they’d give everything away, because CD ownership is a tangible, measurable thing, and having 100,000 CDs out there, and not have lost a penny to make it happen, would be awesome.

    But why would a CD be worth more than a download? Let’s keep going… Continue reading “What’s A Download Worth? Part 1 – The MASSIVE Downloader…”

    Thoughts On Creative Commons Licensing

    You may or may not have noticed that at the bottom of the Bandcamp page for each of my albums and tracks, instead of the little copyright symbol, there’s a ‘Creative Commons’ license note, with a symbol and the phrase ‘some rights reserved’.

    Creative Commons licensing is a way of putting a legal framework around allowing people the share/remix/reuse your work for non-profit/non-commercial purposes while maintaining your right to license for-profit usage as you always have done. So if you want to give a copy of one of my albums you downloaded to a friend, it’s perfectly legal to do so. Continue reading “Thoughts On Creative Commons Licensing”