Sunday, 1 May 2016

Tsuperstars

The Tsu social network was designed for those who create original content to be able to profit from their work. It's tough to be a musician these days with falling sales of music and miserable royalties from streaming services. They can make something from Youtube if they have a big enough following. Everyone on Tsu makes something if they are getting views and that can be on their videos, so they can earn twice on those.

Here's some of the big hitters on Tsu. Some of these will not be generally known, but they have built big followings. This may partly be down to some help from the Tsu team, but also by encouraging fans on other sites to join up. Each of those recruits will be earning the star a little more through the Tsu algorithm that passes a share of earnings up the 'family tree'. I expect some of these people are making thousands of dollars per year from Tsu.




I'm no star, but I'm making over a dollar per day. I have nearly 4700 followers and a network of recruits. Not many of my network are active, but they still make me something. Tsu is approaching 5 million users, so there is still massive growth potential. I've had one payment of $100 so far and am half way to another.

Even the fans can make something if they recruit their friends and do their own posts. Even if it's just a few cents they can make charity donations and I expect a market to grow that trades in Tsu funds.

You can find me at http://www.tsu.co/steevc. If you join up there then you become part of my network and can start building your own. There's currently a competition for musicians with prizes of $1000 and up. It's well worth an entry if you have an original song to submit.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Be a video star

I've been on the Tsu social network since it started in late 2014. Their main feature was that you get paid based on the views you get for your content. Their concept was that those creating original content (artists, photographers. writers, musicians) should get rewarded for their work. That content could be shared from other sites (e.g. Youtube) so that you would earn on Tsu as well as any income you got elsewhere.

People have asked if Tsu could host video themselves. I expect there are some issues with that in cost of hosting, as well as ensuring it does not breach copyright, but some new video functionality is coming in May. To promote this they have launched a contest for original music. Musicians can submit a track (linking to it on Youtube, Soundcloud etc) and if selected to progress should create a short video (up to three and half minutes). Songs will be judged in 6 categories with winners getting $1000 and then play off for a grand prize of an additional $8000.


I assume that videos will use the new features. They are obviously hoping to recruit more musicians to use Tsu to promote their music. I know that some on the site have done very well from it by bringing in their fans. There's an incentive to recruit musicians as those who invited the winners of the categories will also receive $1000.

It's tough to be a musicians, so any extra income should be welcome. Help to bring musicians to Tsu and they could benefit and you will too through their network scheme that passes a share of income to the 'parent'. Once you have joined you can use the Invite button.

I've only written a few original songs, but I'm tempted to submit one.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Benford, podcast and picks

It's been a while since I updated this blog. There just never seems to be enough time. I'm trying to play as much guitar as I can. That includes a weekly acoustic session and a monthly open mic at the local pub. That gets me playing, but I need to find time to work on songs in between.

The big news is that I finally had a custom guitar built by Steve Benford. It's a modified Telecaster with a few special features. I'm really enjoying it and it was a pleasure working with Steve even though it was all via email.


I cover some of the details of this guitar in my latest podcast. It's taken me about a year to get around to episode 3, but I wanted to keep it going and will try to do more this year. This episode includes the latest song I wrote. I'm hoping some friends will contribute so it's not just me rambling on.

I intend to continue with writing songs. I have a few ideas I need to work on.

A while back I noticed that I had a lot of guitar plectrums around the place. I only use a few of them, but they do look nice, so I have stuck them along my shelf above the desk. There's about 30 of them now. This latest piece was contributed by someone at the acoustic session. The Foo Fighters ones came as a set bought at the Milton Keynes gig last year.


I've started a group on Tsu for people to swap picks. It's yet to really take off. I have offered to send people money from my Tsu bank to cover their costs and will also donate to charity. I have built up a fair bit there and want to make use of it.

I've also been doing a little bit of guitar repair on behalf of a friend who runs a charity shop. Some of the guitars that get donated need a bit of work. It's fairly basic stuff like stringing them up, replacing bridges and tuner buttons. All useful experience.

I'll try to update this blog more often. A few comments may encourage me ;)

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Ten Song September

Social media is full of people doing challenges. Sometimes these are for charity or to promote some cause, but some are just a form of motivation to achieve a personal goal. Some of my friends on Tsu were doing some for September and I decided to do a musical one to get me playing more guitar. I've done a few music videos before, but I have been wanting to do them more often.

My target was to do at least ten of these during the month. I wasn't going to worry too much about production quality as I'm concentrating more on just playing these days.

About a Girl is a song I've played a lot at pub sessions, so it was an easy one to kick things off. Recorded in the bedroom on my phone as my kids take over the study these days.


Another personal goal has been to write my own songs. I've had a few ideas, but never seem to get around to developing them. I wrote a post on Tsu a while back that ended with the line "I came for the money, but stayed for the people". That seemed to resonate with people and I was inspired to try writing a song around it. It quickly evolved into The Tsu Song. I used a fairly standard set of chords to keep it simple and got it recorded. That took longer than planned as I kept messing up. Even this take went wrong, hence the cussing at the end.


Skullcrusher Mountain is a song by the great Jonathan Coulton that I enjoy playing. This was a spur of the moment recording as I wanted to get another one done that day after having issues doing another. Another bedroom phone recording.



There are lots of on-line guitar tutorials around these days. They are a great way to get you playing something new. I like this series on Premier Guitar. They have a neat web player than show the music as it plays the backing track. I'd just been to see Foo Fighters, so this seemed appropriate. I had tried it before.


Sometimes I'll be listening to music and think 'I could play that!' Holiday by Green Day was one such song. It is fairly easy, but I looked up some tab anyway to speed things up. My daughter plays bass and had played this, so we decided to do it together.




I was sharing my posts about this challenge with some fellow Tsuvians. I put out a call for requests and someone asked for some Billy Joel. Still Rock and Roll to me is an old favourite of mine. It didn't take long to learn.


A lot of my early guitar experience was having classical lessons. I don't play it much these days, but I still try it now and again. I find it a completely different challenge to playing rock. This is a piece called Alman from my old Grade 5 book.


On a trip into London I decided to treat myself to some new effects pedal. I don't have very many and want to learn how to use them properly. I got an overdrive and a wah. I decided to jam a little demo to show them off.



Many years ago, before we had a web full of cool free guitar lessons I used to buy guitar magazines. Some of these came with a CD of backing tracks. One of those was for the Paul Weller song Sunflower. I'd tried it a few times, but never recorded it before. I used my new overdrive on this.


The final song of the month was Porcupine Tree's Lazarus. This was done the day I saw the band's Steven Wilson play an amazing show at the Royal Albert Hall. He did this song, but much better of course. He also played another, Open Car, that I've also covered.


I consider this challenge to be a success. I had hoped to do more new songs, but limited time prevented that. However, I did write my first song! I'm thinking I should do another challenge that will involve writing more songs.

For October I'm challenging myself to just learn some more classic riffs to expand my musical vocabulary. There are certain tunes that every guitarist ought to be able to play, but that I just have never learned. I don't know if I will record these. We shall see.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Tsu are you?


This is not a post about my music, but I wanted to write about this topic and it's my blog :)

I've played around with various social sites over the years. Some, such as identi.ca and Multiply, don't exist any more. Eventually I got onto Facebook and Twitter, although I'm not a big user of either. My favoured site for some time has been Google+. This is due to a combination of the features and the people on there. There are lots of cool tech and music folk there. It also integrates with other Google services I use.

Social is obviously big money. Facebook are making billions and spending them on any new companies that might compete. Google don't seem to be directly making money from Google+ as it doesn't have any ads (yet), but they have other income.

There have been various sites that promise to share what they earn with their users. One of the latest is tsū. They say they will take 10% of the profit and share the rest amongst users. Somehow they work out who deserves what (perhaps based on views, likes etc). There's a pyramid aspect as the person who recruited a user gets a portion of that user's income too, over multiple generations in diminishing amounts. Basically each level gets a third of the previous level. This guide explains it all far better than I can.

So, there is an incentive to build a big network of new users. Some people have thousands, but mine is more modest. I've managed to recruit 155 people who have another 92 children of their own.


That seems fairly good, but it's not enough to earn me much money. I get a few cents per day from some combination of what I post and what my network makes for me. Other people are earning several dollars per day. You need to build up $100 before you can get paid, and that will take me years. The best I can really hope is that I make enough to donate to one of the charities on the site. You can send some of your money to any user who enables that feature.

I'm really just playing around with the site to see how it works. There are not many famous people on there. There are a few bands, sports-persons and celebrities, but not many really big names and few of them are of interest to me. I have still found a number of interesting people to follow, including some cool musicians. You can see them in my following list there. Unfortunately it's one of those sites you can't really explore until you sign up. That's always annoying, but seems to be common.

I think that the site is missing a few things. If you follow hundreds of people then it's difficult to handle the feed as there's no way to group people. The only privacy levels are friends only or public. And of course it's overrun by people who are desperately just trying to make money by spamming every post in sight. I get loads of friend requests that I just decline as I have no interest in those people or in just boosting my numbers. I'm mostly posting links that I would also post on Google+ with some of my photos that I'm happy to be public. There is not really enough compelling content to keep me coming back unless something changes soon and I have nothing better to do.

How did I build my network? Of course I posted my link on those sites I generally use and got a few people that way, but I don't like to spam my friends. I found tsumatic which is a place to post your link, but I don't think that has done much for me. I also found tsuforum as a place to discuss the site. There's a sort of competition running there where the people with the most posts each day get new sign-ups. I have no idea how they do it, but most of mine seem to come from places like Morocco.

In conclusion, it's an interesting site with some potential. Don't go there expecting to make loads of money unless you have the potential to recruit loads of people and can use it all day. It's fun, but not essential.

If you want to play then please use my link as that will give me a small boost in earnings that may keep me visiting. I don't expect to retire on that.

Monday, 17 November 2014

It's not about the gear

Guitarists love gear. Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) is a common condition. Lots of people are on the quest for Ultimate Tone (whatever that may be). They talk about it on podcasts and have endless debates on forums. I personally have fairly limited experience of different gear. I've owned 2 electric guitars and sold one of them years ago. I've had a few cheap amplifiers, but am now fairly happy with my Roland Cube 80x and Belcat 20r valve amp. I've not had many effects pedals, but my Zoom G3X is doing the job for me now and giving me some experience of what I actually need.

Would I like more gear? Of course I would, but do I need it? I feel I have to justify any purchases, so most of what I have bought in the last few years has been to allow me to play in a band situation. Previously I played almost entirely at home and wasn't even recording. I'm hoping the current band will play some gigs next year. Come that day I could probably justify having another guitar as a back up and to give some more tonal options. I'll go into detail on that nearer the time.

So, why do people obsess so much over gear? We would all like to be better players, but it's easy to blame playing issues on the gear. The way I think of it is that most of our guitar heroes who grew up in the 50s and 60s had to learn with guitars and other equipment that we would consider pretty bad. In many cases they had to build it themselves or modify what they could find. Even when they could afford something better the options were limited and quality was probably a lot more variable than now. They just had to get on with it and made lots of amazing music.

Now you have the choice of hundreds of different guitars with huge ranges from each major manufacturer, thousands of effects pedals etc and at prices from pocket money to eye-watering. It's probably fairly hard to find anything being sold that is really bad as competition and mass production methods mean that quality is consistent. We are spoiled for choice and I think the excess of options leads to confusion and stress over making the wrong choice. Those are general problems in modern society. 1st world problems.

I could buy lots of cheap gear, but I'd rather save up for something special and I feel that I need to be a better player to justify having the good stuff. I believe that what I have is probably good enough for the performing and recording I want to do and I plan to invest time and money in playing. Having a family means there are other priorities when it comes to the budget.

I was actually thinking of starting a podcast that talks more about playing than gear. The much missed Six String Bliss had a good mix in that respect. I may look around for someone who would be up for co-hosting a show, but I'd like to have interviews with players of all levels. I've no experience of this sort of recording, but I have a few friends I could ask for advice.

All opinions are very welcome.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Life vs guitar

By now most people have heard of the 10,000 hour theory that you need that much practice at anything to achieve success (or something like that). Malcolm Gladwell cites +The Beatles as an example as they put in a lot of time in Hamburg before they made it big. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have done the hours and still not made it as they didn't get lucky or perhaps they didn't practice the right things.

I've been playing guitar on and off for nearly 40 years and I'm not sure I've played for 10,000 hours yet. That equates to about 40 minutes per day, but I've had long periods where I didn't play much or just didn't progress much. I would play the same old songs rather than learning new ones. Back then you had to get books or magazines if you were not learning by ear. Now you can find a lesson for just about any song on-line. That's a facility I'm making a lot of use of.

These days I play for several hours a week rather than watching television as my evening relaxation. The obstacle to that is that I have two teenage children who also want to use the study/studio for playing music or games. I have to grab some time once they have been sent to bed and at weekends when they are all out doing stuff. I'm not logging my time, but wonder if I will ever get to 10,000 hours, if that even matters. I'm trying to apply myself to improving my playing using the lessons on the +ArtistWorks Paul Gilbert Rock Guitar course. I reckon that has done a lot of my technique since I started in January. I've had a dozen video responses from Paul where he has picked up on various issues to keep me on the right course. I'll get to see him on stage next month when Mr. Big play in London.

I've still playing with the blues/rock band. I have been doing the singing, but we have agreed that we need someone with a better voice. We're in the process of auditioning people. We need to find someone whose ambitions are compatible with ours as well as having the talent. We only really aspire to playing a few pub gigs each year. Ideally we want someone who also plays guitar to fill out some of the songs that need it. I'd still like to at least do backing vocals and maybe sing a couple of songs. I'm getting more confidence at playing lead guitar. I'm trying to learn a few of the original solos to start with, but will look to do my own variations. With luck we could gig early next year, if not before. We need a few more songs in the set first and to get them 'polished'.

On top of this I'd like to do more recording at home. I've had some technical issues with this lately, but I've tried doing a fresh Linux Mint install at the weekend that seems to be working better so far. My daughter wants to record a rock violin piece, so we'll aim to do that soon. Stay tuned...