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)


Steve%20Lawson

Enjoy…

Facebook for musicians – a jumbled mess?

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.

Facebook have added more band stuff….

Facebook have now added the option to have band pages, and I’ve got one up there.

If you’re on facebook, please click here to add yourself as a fan – would be lovely to have your support over there.

As they add more resources for musicians, it could become a really cool thing.

And if you want to add my music to your facebook profile, you can do so via the Reverb Nation Facebook plug-in – it’s a great tool that allows you to add music to your page, and spread the word! It’d help me out loads if you did, and give your facebook page a cool soundtrack too. :o)

If you’ve got a band and want a facebook thing, it’s all about the pages click here for more, and once you’ve created your page, come and add a link to it here in the comments…

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)

more on indie-musicians and the web

Spent a lovely couple of hours yesterday with Jonatha Brooke – aside from being one of the finest singer/songwriters ever to pick up a guitar, she’s also been running her own label, Bad Dog Records for most of this millennium thus far… So it was great to get to chat about what works, the frustrations and challenges of file-sharing, user-generated content, download sales, gig booking and web promotion. Apparently, a lot of this stuff is being discussed right now at CMJ, so the list of resources I gave J were all the things her lovely people were finding out in New York (only my version didn’t involve wandering around a convention centre listening to sales pitch, and did involve a particularly delicious glass of wine – must find out what it was…)

Given that myspace is fast becoming a time-vortex – where musicians can spend ages getting nowhere fast, just sending out bulletins and invites to other musicians, who in turn send invites and bulletins back, with no intention whatsoever of ever buying eachother’s CDs or turning up at shows – it’s becoming all the more important to highlight the areas that are working, or at least have the kind of infrastructure that means they should work, and are worth getting in on at ground level.

  • last.fm has a proven track record, 10s of millions of users, and is becoming a reference point in the industry for what music listeners are ACTUALLY listening to… It’s pretty much a must to get your stuff up on there, they have good sales links, and the radio stations are fab.
  • Reverbnation looks like the best of the new breed – lots of ways of getting the information out, and ways of your fan-base proliferating it via their networks etc. It’ll be even better when they support information ‘pushed’ into the site rather than just ‘pulled’ from it – I’ve already emailed about them, and had a ‘thanks, that’s a great idea, we’ll see what happens’ email back…
  • Facebook is an interesting one – important if only because of its size. Reverbnation have a great facebook plugin so you can put your favourite artist’s music on your page, or your own music. The other great use of facebook is that it’s all set up for people who already know eachother, or have a connection, so the social capital of telling your friends about great music is perhaps more valuable on there. There are also facebook groups, which some musicians start for themselves, and others that are fan generated… all good stuff to mull over…
  • Cdbaby – of course, the finest resource for indie musicians anywhere in the webz. Very well implemented, hugely popular, and constantly innovative. Cdbaby acts like an unofficial global trade union for musicians, campaigning and lobbying big business on our behalf, and negotiating deals with the likes of Tower Records and iTunes on behalf of its artists, and still giving a vast proportion of its revenue back to the musicians. Truly wonderful.

on top of that, if my Google analytics stats are to be believed, the social bookmarks at the bottom of each entry on this blog work – I’m getting quite a few visits from stumbleupon and del.icio.us after people have book marked the pages, or ‘stumbled’ on them. Need to check and see how that’s working out on my main site. (and if you get a minute, and you use stumbleupon, digg, reddit, del.icio.us, etc. PLEASE bookmark some of the site, or forward interesting posts to your facebook chums etc…)

There are loads of others – pandora, iSound, Mog, Bebo, friendster, garageband yadda-yadda-yadda… some more worth investigating than others… Damn, this stuff was easy back in the days when all there was mp3.com (where Lobelia racked up over a million plays, was getting paid sensible money for those downloads, and signed all kinds of endorsement deals etc…!)

Staying on top of all this stuff is a full time job, but right now I’ve got to go and tidy up, then practice! Do you think I could convince some kids to do all the webstuff for me as work-experience? :o)

Oh, and while we’re on the topic, this post on the mediafuturist.com is vital viewing – a discussion/presentation about media mega-trends. Gerd’s point about the shift from scarcity to ubiquity is definitely one to spend some quality time considering…

balancing 'easy access' with 'information overload'.

Been thinking about my new website design, which I’m pretty happy with. It does raise some questions about the balance of making as much as possible available to visitors in one click (web users are notoriously lazy bastards) with not overloading them.

Was chatting with the PhotoMonkey on Sunday, and he said that with bands, the first thing he looks for is their myspace page. ‘OK, see how long it takes you to find the myspace link on my front page’ says I, fairly confident that it would take him about 4 seconds… …15 seconds later, he finds it. Which is a heck of a long time in web-world, and as much a testimony to the uselessness of the MySpace logo as it is to my design, but it did raise some questions…

Firstly, how do you balance offering ‘good’ content over expected content? PM looks for myspace, even though myspace is a bit shit. It’s easy and a known quantity. I’ve got the reverbnation link on the front page which he – an experienced web-user and music fan – had never come across, despite it being a far superior interface for both artist and audience… Do you go with ubiquity just because it’s easy, or press on with offering a range of places to interact and listen to music, even if some of them are lesser-known now… (oh how I’ll be laughing if 6 months from now Reverbnation has 50,000,000 users and I’m top of all their search queries. :o)

Likewise the CDbaby link, I guess… It’s there because they provide a great service to people looking to buy music. Good for CDs and for downloads, and they do have a lot of users… I guess I really ought to put emusic and facebook on there as well, but there are already enough links…

The other interesting comment PM had was that he didn’t think the feed from the blog needed to be there… The connection between the blog and the music wasn’t as clear in his mind as it is in mine, obviously… it’s very difficult to step outside and see yourself as others see you. It’s certainly not something I’m all that good at. So I see the inner workings of my head expressed in blog form as being pretty close to what’s going on with the music. I hope that readers of the blog have a better understanding of what the music is all about than people who just hear tracks on their last.fm radio playlist.

What is clear is that my web traffic is up considerably since the redesign, which is great, and the main feeder site to my blog is my main site, that’s where nearly all the clicks come from (although this month, a huge amount of traffic has come via the DGM live news page who linked to the Tony/Trey interview, and a fair amount from StumbleUpon from people who’ve been adding the blog pages via the link at the bottom of each post…

So, here’s a test – if you haven’t been over to my main site for a while and you fancy helping me out with a bit of esoteric research, get a stopwatch ready, then click here and see how long it takes you to find the MySpace link… click stop, and let me know. (if you don’t own a stop watch, you may well find that there’s a ‘timer’ function on your mobile phone).

thanks!

Let's play catch-up!!

OK, I know a few of you lovely readers are a little behind on your StevieTunes collection, so now you can catch up on all the solo stuff, by getting all 7 solo albums for £17.50!! – that’s a serious bargain, £2.50 an album for some of the finest music you’ll ever hear anywhere. Honest. :o)

Anyway, please do head over to the shop, if you want to fill in the blanks, and give yourself a lovely soundtrack to your daily blog-read.

Which, BTW, you can do to a lesser degree via the ReverbNation player that’s now embedded on the front page of the blog. (don’t worry it doesn’t auto-play – I’ve actually unsubscribed from some people’s blog feeds in the past because you couldn’t go to their page without being bombarded with unwanted music). But still, plenty of opportunities to listen to me – what more could you want?

(rss) Feed Me, Seymour!!

OK, just how Web 2.0 do you want it? You want feeds? We got feeds, in just about any format you desire.

Here are a few for you –

here’s an hCalendar feed from the gigs page on my website – that’ll import automatically into ical, outlook, sunbird and a few other apps that read the hCalendar Microformat.

Then there’s the normal RSS feed from my gigs at last.fm – this one will give you gigs that other people have added, and links to the relevant gig page at last.fm, so you can see who else on last.fm is going…

Next up there’s a novel one – an RSS feed of my MySpace page’s gig listing – clearly not actually offered by Myspace, because they are, largely, shit, but you can create one for your own myspace page by going here.

And lastly, the new kid on the blog, the gigs RSS feed from my ReverbNation.com page.

Clearly you don’t need all of them, and I’ll keep you posted here if I decide to drop any of them, but given that they all offer something slightly different, I thought I’d offer you the chance to have them all and choose the one you like the format of. The Calendar link is particularly useful if you’re interesting in what I’m up to gig-wise all over the place, rather than just in your town – you can get up in the morning, look at ical or outlook and go ‘oh look, Steve’s playing in Zagreb tonight with the combine Zagreb schools orchestra’, and feel good about the world.

So, consider your feed needs satiated, dear bloglings (obviously, you’ve already got the feeds for this blog, my jaiku microblog, and my myspace blog).

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

Yet more places to find me on the web…

With musicians and listeners alike realising just how useless and archaic the MySpace interface is, a host of other options are springing up for musicians looking for an audience, and audiences looking for new music. One of the best ones I’ve found recently is Reverb Nation – I saw it a while ago when Seth Horan moved his mailing list over to it, and then today, the lovely Lo. re-alerted me to its existence, in relation to how it can be placed on one’s facebook page. So i created a profile, added the facebook plugin thingie, and away we go. It’s looking good.

click here to see my Reverb Nation Profile.