Category Archives: musician blog

audio response to Marco’s klankbeeld

I plugged in the electric, hooked up Audacity, hit record, and flipped over to the same image that Marco used for his like a child piece. It’s a quickie job but what the hell that’s what blogs are for: Lucas Gonze – response to klaaankbeeld like a child (MP3)

On a musical level I was thinking about the bassy, jazzy, and introspective flavor of Marco’s piece, and that led to me towards Les Paul’s ballad playing in the 50s, e.g. Moon of Manakoora.

Also: FLAC and Vorbis versions. Licensing for my music here: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 unported.

stigma of unoriginality

Crosbie Fitch’s comment on my post about interlinking between musician blogs:

I suspect that a lot of the non-linking behaviour on musicians’ websites comes from the subtle cultural indoctrination we’ve been living with for a few centuries now (since the advent of copyright) that a musician who is influenced by others is a lesser musician (by exposing themselves to considerable risk of being less original).

Copyright effectively says that the only works worthy of the public’s attention and so deserving of their reward are works that are wholly original – any derivative work is a trespass upon the work of the ‘original’ creator and warrants their consent or veto, and first claim to any reward.

There is a big economic incentive to be a singer/songwriter rather than just a singer, even if the original songs you write don’t contain original ideas. Publishing rights are far and away the best way to make money as a musician. Jimi Hendrix earned many times more than Noel Redding not because he was the bandleader but because he was the songwriter. Classical stars earn less than pop stars partly because there are no songwriting royalties for them.

Copyright has created another incentive to write new songs rather than cover existing ones — most musicians can’t get a license to cover a song on the internet. Writing is a way to keep from getting sued.

musician blogs are mules

What’s missing from these three excellent musician sites, all of them full-fledged blogs, as well as from my own musician blog?

  1. Brad Sucks
  2. Jonathan Coulton‘s blog
  3. TweedBlog

All of them take advantage of internet standards. All of them have a strong centralized hub for their own presence, which they use to point outwards to any presence they maintain on distribution points like Myspace. All of them publish their own music on their sites in MP3 format with full songs rather than 30 second samples; none of them limit their music to pointers into sale outlets like the iTunes store. All of them develop momentum by publishing regularly.

But none of them link to other musician blogs.

And why should they? Playing is essentially selfish, and player’s blogs are naturally inward looking rather than outward. A player blog which pointed outward would be just another music blog, except that it would corrupt the flow of recommendations with bias for the player’s own creations.

The problem is that successful blogging is recursive. Blogs blog about blogs. It’s not an accident that there’s an echo chamber. Blogs which attract links are those which generate links to blogs that may link back to them. It’s a Darwinian fitness test. Does your blogging get other people to blog about your blogging? If so, you’ll get links. If not, your blog probably won’t generate enough attention to sustain itself.

Musician blogs are like mules. They’re a final generation that can’t breed more generations.

Obviously I wouldn’t be doing it myself if I didn’t believe in it. I just don’t know how to tackle this issue. MP3 bloggers post what they have gotten from CDs, filesharing networks, or other MP3 blogs. I have never seen a blog post music from a musician blog or a social site like remixfight unless the blogger was directly affiliated with the source. Why would anybody link to a musician blog?

looking at Ingrid Michaelson site

Here are observations on the site for Ingrid Michaelson’s music.

I like:

  1. Music autoplays on the home page. That’s what the site is about, let’s not waste time and clicks getting to it.
  2. Navigation within the site never interrupts playback. As I write this I’m been having a continuous enjoyable experience with the music for about fifteen minutes because nothing has yet happened to break the flow.
  3. Front page goes straight to news. There’s a sense of freshness. This approach is in contrast to a Flash splash page or a static explanation of who she is.
  4. Main menu uses standard language for features rather than making up cute words for the same things.
  5. Intimate blog-scale presence rather than larger-than-life arena-scale presence.

I don’t like:

  1. Nothing viral anywhere. This should be front and center. For example, the XSPF player widget in the header should have an “embed this” box next to it.
  2. Framed design prevents linking to sub-pages, including bookmarking. They should have used an AJAX bookmarking library.
  3. No free MP3 download. Huh? C’mon. I mean…
  4. There should be direct links to songs in the news section, so that you have a sense of chronology and freshness in relation to the music.

no singles, please #2

Good bloggers have a warmer and more intimate voice than writers in publications like the New York Times. This applies to musicians as well.

So let’s say that, per yesterday’s post here, we’re moving from a world of albums containing singles to a world where musicians release a series of songs that accumulate like posts in a blog.

You’d expect successful musicians in the new context to have a warmer and more intimate voice. They would let flaws show. They would be avoid grandiose sounds like kettle drums. They would be less physically attractive. They would dress down. They would be quirky.

Old style: Janet Jackson on janetjackson.comJanet Jackson 'Discipline' photo

New style: Port O’brien on Aquarium DrunkardPort O'brien

musicians’ presence on the net

Over on the blog for my own music I have posted about an article on my music over on the guitar section of a general reference site called LoveToKnow.com.

The story happened because the author, Kevin Casper, saw me play at a small bar. He had no reason to know about all the online work related to the music.

But once we got rolling on the interview, all the online work became useful source materials for the story. Kevin browsed my longstanding Flickr stream and found two pictures which he ended up using. He listened to David Battino’s podcast. He linked back to the blog on my music (soupgreens.com) that I set up as an alternative to doing a CD. And the stream of recordings made over time became the viral payoff (from my perspective) of the story: please visit Lucas Gonze’s blog. There you can hear samples of Gonze playing.

It’s not just that this stuff was online. It’s that it was the byproduct of an ongoing existence which you could consider an active resume: Any professional whose work is visible on the Net will become part of the conversation that establishes reputation and creates opportunity. The blog is an active résumé that enables you to participate — by proxy — in that conversation..

A musician isn’t a professional in the same sense, and doesn’t need a resume. But what carries over from the concept of an active resume is the idea that musicians also benefit by leaving a trail of engagement. David Byrne’s blog brings him alive to me and make him matter. He blogs about a smallish local gig (for him): This Wednesday, I’m participating in a benefit concert for St. Ann’s Warehouse, a performance center in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The blog entry draws you into his musical life: I eventually joined the ranks of millions of others who found many of these [20th century pop song] standards moving and beautiful. I often dislike the way they were performed, all schmaltzy and with swing in inappropriate places. I don’t care for Sinatra, for example.

The net is a warmer and more intimate medium than the old album/radio/television axis. Musicians can’t approach the net with the same reserve and distance. Byrne makes himself a part of the new medium by engaging in a direct personal way in each blog post, and by doing it in a ongoing series.


I’m maintaining a separation between my writing about making stuff, which goes here on blog.gonze.com, and my writing about the stuff I made, which goes there on soupgreens.com. I assume that most people interested in the music don’t want inside baseball about working on music, and that most people who want inside baseball about working on music don’t want the music. There’s crossover, but it’s limited.


There are hosting problems at the Soup Greens blog and it’s taking up to 30 seconds to get a page. I use a hosting service called midPhase which has good customer support and administration tools, but which is turning to be not so reliable.

MILA pattern

Patrick Woodward’s MILA project is an example of how musicians manage their presence on the web.

There is a personal blog post about creating and managing the work at http://www.patwoodward.com/2008/04/mila-album-on-web.html.

There is a page which is a hub for the work itself at http://milamusic.tumblr.com/.

There are a bunch of distribution points for getting the work in front of users and drawing listeners back to the hub, including Myspace and last.fm.

How did he get to this particular setup? He described the basic problem to me like this:

A few weeks ago I played the part, and created a presence on six sites. I was releasing nine songs incrementally and it struck me how inefficient and jumbled this experience was of updating the various presences.

His solution and mine are basically the same. In my case, http://blog.gonze.com/2008/04/15/soup-greens/ is the blog post about the project. http://soupgreens.com/ is the hub site. Spokes being used as distribution points include Myspace and last.fm.

How come there’s a blog post about the making of the music site outside of the music site itself? Because the music is a primary object and talking about the making of it is a distraction.

How come there’s a single hub for the work? Because of how inefficient and jumbled this experience was of updating the various presences.

How come there are multiple distribution points? Because online musicians have to go where the audience is, in the same way that offline musicians perform for different audiences in different venues.

So this seems like a basic pattern that must exist all over the place, and which software for internet musicians can specifically target.