NOT CONTENT WITH JUST TRAILBLAZING AS A LOOP/LAYERING SONIC experimenter and solo bassist, Britain’s Steve Lawson is exploring the wild frontier of modern social networking, building a new career and a new life in the process. He met his wife, singer/songwriter Lobelia, on MySpace just two years ago, while collaborating on her music, and they’re now a unique duo act. But MySpace is so 2007. Through Lawson’s hyperactive presence on Twitter, a newer platform that limits postings to status updates of 140 characters or less, he’s built a network that’s allowed him and his wife to reach thousands of music fans at house concerts throughout America and the U.K. House concerts, you say? Indeed, they bypass traditional venues completely and organize intimate shows in people’s living rooms. Most of the outreach occurs on Twitter, where they gain “followers” one “tweet” at a time. (When you’re on Twitter, you “tweet,” and “followers” are subscribers to your “tweets.”)
This interview was conducted entirely on Twitter; some in-the-know folks followed it live. These are the actual tweets, 140 characters at a time. (A note for newbies: When you address someone on Twitter, you tweet “at” them. So @solobasssteve means I’m talking to Steve, while @bryanbeller means he’s talking to me.)
@solobasssteve how did u first find out about
twitter? who turned u onto it?
@bryanbeller jeff schmidt
@solobasssteve [watching jeff schmidt on youtube—wow!]
@solobasssteve when did the light turn on 4 u that [Twitter] could actually generate revenue and enhance ur career?
@bryanbeller I got into twitter out of curiosity & the benefit was simply the ease of connection, the direct nature of the conversations...
@bryanbeller that I could invite people into my music life in near-real time meant I could connect w/ ppl who wouldn’t Google “solo bass”
@bryanbeller I have 3 times as many twitter followers as I do ppl on my mailing list. it’s a big leap forward!
@solobasssteve distinguish it from facebook and myspace for our readers
@bryanbeller everything’s bigger than twitter, so twitter always leads to something bigger. facebook’s a walled garden, myspace is horrid :)
@bryanbeller you can’t embed anything in twitter, but you can link. You also can’t make anyone follow you, other than by being interesting!
@bryanbeller...once I have a reputation on twitter, I can use that to point my followers to artists who I like. It’s a discovery platform
@solobasssteve talk more about “being interesting”... what’s ur typical “tweet” like? and what do u think makes folks want 2 follow u?
@bryanbeller I tweet about my day, my music ideas, my practice, gigs, problems, discoveries. I try to inform and entertain, but also reply…
@bryanbeller there are loads of interesting bassists that I chat w/ here every day. we encourage each other, swap links & promote each other
@solobasssteve who r the bassists on twitter that really “get it”? who r your faves to follow?
@bryanbeller there are loads. top few:
@jeffschmidt @steveuccello @toddjazz (Todd Johnson) @melvingibbs @johngoldsby
@solobasssteve let’s talk about u & lobelia’s act. describe it, talk about it b4 twitter & after...
@bryanbeller@lobelia & I play in a bass/voice duo, so it’s a tiny setup. We made v. little on club gigs, but twitter led us to house gigs
@bryanbeller we’d tweet from the stage! Also encourage the audience to tweet about the gigs too. News spread pretty quick.
@bryanbeller we put a message out asking if ppl wanted to book us, & got an entire tour out of it, made money, met some amazing new friends
@bryanbeller we also used twitter to distribute links to live streams of the gigs, sometimes getting an online audience of 300 in 10 minutes
@solobasssteve what’s your advice to bassists first getting on twitter? how can they maximize their networking, marketing, etc.?
@bryanbeller don’t think of it as marketing :) start by making friends, chat to interesting people. The advantages become quickly apparent.
@bryanbeller twitter is an open conversation. What you do as a musician is fascinating to those who like your music. Make the most of that!
CAN BE HEARD ON
Steve Lawson, Behind Every Word [Pillow Mountain, 2006]; Grace and Gratitude [Pillow Mountain, 2004]
The Blue Nile, High [Sanctuary, 2004]; Jonatha Brooke, The Works [Bad Dog, 2008]; Michael Manring, Soliloquy [Manthing Music, 2005]
Basses Fretted and fretless Modulus 6-strings, fretted 4-string
Strings Bass Centre Elites: .028–.125 custom flatwound set on fretless 6; .025–.125 nickel rounds on fretted 6; .035–.095 nickel rounds on fretted 4
Amps A Mark Audio PA: Two AS602s powered speakers, one AS121s powered sub “The perfect house concert rig. I don’t own anything strictly for bass anymore.”
Looping Looperlative LP1, which Steve helped to develop