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 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.