| Jeff Schmidt, Bassist
Subscribe to Jeff's Blog - RSS Feed

Blog Search

« January 2008 | March 2008 »

February 26, 2008

I Need Your Help

Thanks and props to you for reading & subscribing to the Beautiful Bass Blog.

I hope you get something out of this space - inspiration, a laugh, a good link or two, things to think about & things to listen to. And that's why I need your help.

This space has become a bit of a catch-all for anything that interests me without too much regard if it interests anyone else. Since this is a PERSONAL blog I suppose that could be excused.

But I'd like to change that.

As I consider a re-design of this site - I want to make sure I'm not just putting new colors on it. I want to make sure it has a purpose. And serves that purpose.

I'm thinking maybe this blog isn't really why you would come here. . . . that maybe it takes focus away from my music. I don't know. Maybe the blog is a good idea - but it should focus on certain kinds of topics? Maybe it should just be a music player and a gig listing?

I'm curious what you guys think.

If you have an opinion could you please take a few seconds to drop a note in the comments - or in my e-mail about what you'd like to see happening in this space?

This site WILL be redesigned. And I WILL listen to your input & ideas. Cuz you guys rule!

What should be?

beautifulbass at gmail dot com

UPDATE: 10:15PM Feb 26 2008 - there was a problem with mysql server and comments were being errored out. please e-mail me if you get an error while trying to comment.

thanks! - -jeff

February 25, 2008

Uh Oh . . . no one is making fun of me.

via Jessica Hagy's EXCELLENT blog - "Indexed"


to impatience with your development in ANY effort.

too many choices - not enough time or attention

As Im sure you guys know - there's almost unlimited choice in news and entertainment now. You can still listen to radio and watch TV to get an idea of what's new & cool. The problem with those mediums is 2 fold.

First - they are totally bound by time & space. There are a limited number of channels and a limited number of hours in the day you can broadcast so the presentation is always going to be limited. It's scarcity.

Second - only things that attract the widest possible audience get "time" on the network. It's great for mass appeal stuff like Michael Jackson & Spiderman movies - not so good with high quality stuff that's more niche in appeal.

Online blows that whole thing wide open. You no longer have to wait for the 6 O'Clock evening news to find out what's happening in the world (on the west coast at least - the evening news is already several hours old by the time it "airs") and you no longer have to wait for a radio station or MTV to play a song before you find out about it.

This is very very cool.

It gives indie musicians and artists the opportunity to be discovered like never before. Of course - when I say "be discovered" I'm not talking about BY the TV and Radio people. Of course that can happen. But they're still looking for the same mass appeal style material they always have.

What I'm really talking about is being discovered by music FANS. Fans that will tell other fans. That trusted source of fan to fan - friend to friend carries far more persuasive weight than an advertisement or a corporate marketing strategy.

But a new problem arises in the land of ubiquity. Too much stuff.

For example. I'm looking at the feeds in my RSS reader. I use Google Reader. It's so efficient that I've subscribed to almost 400 feeds. That's easily 1100 new posts per day. And while google reader makes it easy to sift through all that info - it's still too much to fully appreciate.

So what I do is look to a few trusted sources across several key areas of my interests.

These - incidentally are NOT the traditional "trusted sources" like CNN or The New York Times. They are people (like you) who have earned my TRUST - who have already digested some of that other material and now present it in a smaller more focused and easily consumable package.

In other words - they act as filters. As curators. They perform the same function as CNN or MTV - but on a much smaller scale and for much more focused interests.

I too am a curator of the information I consume with the "share" function of Google Reader. I simply mark items I find interesting and Google Reader posts them to a webpage accessible by anyone. It's not a definitive list of what's available online. It's a definitive list of what I find interesting online. My Google Reader Page.

How is this useful to you? If you like me, if you share interests, if you trust that I know the difference between quality items and shit - my shared items page is a really good resource. I scan 400 feeds a day and only share a dozen or so per day at most. THAT is curation.

What if we could do this with MUSIC? Well, we can't just yet. BUT -

Steve Lawson just launched a new use for our favorite new internet toy Twitter. It's called To The Left Of The Mainstream. It's a regular feed of music Steve finds interesting and worthy of your attention. Follow the TTLOTM feed HERE.

If you like Steve, and trust his taste it's worth following. And it's not just about following Steve - it's about ADDING to the conversation too. You can tell Steve about something - and if he likes it - BOOM it goes on his feed for others to find out about.

Why does it surprise anyone that networking is easier on a NETWORK where communication and information flows in synchronicity?

Curation and filtering are even MORE vital in the internet space because it's potential is nearly limitless. But unlike the old guard - the new filtering is NOT a top down affair. It's interactive. You can shout back at the TV & radio now - and they can hear you- if they choose to listen.

EVERYONE can become a filter.

When you look at what these online tools allow it's all ultimately about connecting with other people and sharing information and ideas. And music connects like nothing else.

How do you do it? By participating. By sharing items online, by engaging others and ADDING to the conversation. In fact - if you engage in conversations you can add value to - the whole space gets better and more useful for everyone.

BTW - it also helps establish your personal BRAND. That's an issue for another time as there is ALWAYS a "what's in it for me" element to the equation. The short answer is - a lot!

Missy in the monkey cage

Sent from my over-priced iPhone

February 23, 2008

VIDEO BLOG #4 - sketch #45

very rough outline of a new tune I'm trying to flesh out. no speaking - just playing.

this was done down & dirty using youtube's "quick capture" thing right from my laptop web cam & microphone. not hi-fi but it gives you an idea what i'm working on.

BULL SCHMIDT - new podcast w/ Steve Lawson

recorded this morning (in US) via Skype - a 55 minute chat with UK Solo Bassist Steve Lawson about all matter of music and geek related stuff.

I like talking with Steve about this stuff because he is similarly attracted to all things geek & web as I am. He's articulate on the philosophical aspects of music & bass that I really enjoy engaging in as well.

This will be a regular thing - every few weeks or so and will likely evolve over time into all kinds of issues & topics. I wanted to name the podcast something different than my usual "beautiful bass podcast". Nothing fancy really struck me other than that this is really a bullshit session.

So - viola! BULL SCHMIDT!

bullschmidt cvr.jpg

listen via embedded player below

or download the direct mp3 HERE
it's about 50mb.

Subscribe to the podcast in Itunes - just search for Jeff Schmidt in the itunes music store and you'll find the podcast - this way new epsiodes and BULL SCHMIDT sessions will be delivered right to you as they become available.

Also check Steve Lawson's site as he'll make these available in his own way I'm sure.

This whole thing came about on Twitter.

Are you not twittering yet?

February 22, 2008

protecting the children


February 20, 2008

We have angered the GOD(S)!

The only way to get them to turn the moon back on is to appease them.

I suggest Human sacrifice. Or teach Intelligent Design in public schools.

Your thoughts?



February 19, 2008

And you're not on Twitter because . . . . ?



go there.

sign up.

post the inanities of your daily life.

find other people to follow.

watch as interesting things start to happen.

February 18, 2008

Luck, timing and the randomness of getting BUZZ

In a recent article for Fast Company magazine, Duncan Watts, network scientist at Columbia University turns upside down the entire idea of HOW certain trends & ideas gets lots of buzz and become a hit while others do not.

The answer? Something most musicians and artists already know.

It's not dependent on talent or merit. Buzz happens - or at least seems to happen almost randomly.

You can read the whole thing on Duncan's blog HERE.

But here's a particularly eye opening excerpt:

Watts wanted to find out whether the success of a hot trend was reproducible. For example, we know that Madonna became a breakout star in 1983. But if you rewound the world back to 1982, would Madonna break out again? To find out, Watts built a world populated with real live music fans picking real music, then hit rewind, over and over again.

Working with two colleagues, Watts designed an online music-downloading service. They filled it with 48 songs by new, unknown, and unsigned bands. Then they recruited roughly 14,000 people to log in. Some were asked to rank the songs based on their own personal preference, without regard to what other people thought. They were picking songs purely on each song's merit. But the other participants were put into eight groups that had "social influence": Each could see how other members of the group were ranking the songs.

Watts predicted that word of mouth would take over. And sure enough, that's what happened. In the merit group, the songs were ranked mostly equitably, with a small handful of songs drifting slightly lower or higher in popularity. But in the social worlds, as participants reacted to one another's opinions, huge waves took shape. A small, elite bunch of songs became enormously popular, rising above the pack, while another cluster fell into relative obscurity.

But here's the thing: In each of the eight social worlds, the top songs -- and the bottom ones -- were completely different.

For example, the song "Lockdown," by 52metro, was the No. 1 song in one world, yet finished 40 out of 48 in another. Nor did there seem to be any compelling correlation between merit and success. In fact, Watts explains, only about half of a song's success seemed to be due to merit.

"In general, the 'best' songs never do very badly, and the 'worst' songs never do extremely well, but almost any other result is possible," he says.


Because the first band to snag a few thumbs-ups in the social world tended overwhelmingly to get many more. And who received those crucial first votes seemed to be mostly a matter of luck.

Word of mouth and social contagion made big hits bigger. But they also made success more unpredictable. (And it's worth noting, no one in the social worlds had any more influence than anyone else.)

So yes, Watts figures, if you rewound the world to 1982, Madonna would likely remain a total unknown -- and someone else would have slipped into her steel-tipped corset. "You cannot predict in advance whether a band gets this huge cascade of popularity, because the social network is liable to throw up almost any result," he marvels.

Predictably, the music industry received the analysis -- "Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market," published in Science in 2006 -- with a cocked eyebrow. When Watts presented his findings to executives at a major record label last spring, the younger among them were reasonably receptive. They're accustomed to the unpredictability of hit-making online, so they can grasp the terrifying randomness of success.

But the older execs?

Watts laughs. "They were all like, 'I think it's bullshit. I'm still going to go with my gut,'" he recalls. "And I'm like, Okay, good luck to you. You're going to need it."

Lots of implications in this.

For one - I have shied away from pursuing, and publishing testimonials from other artists about me in promotion of myself.

Perhaps this is a mistake. Maybe getting thumbs up from an established community is an important signal to the market. I realize that rarely has an effect on me unless it's someone I really respect and trust. For the market at large though, it's probably way more important than I give it credit for.

The bass extremes contest certainly provided that to some degree. I've not even come close to trying to capitalize on that.

I also know my "win" there was totally a product of circumstance, of time & place. Sure talent played a roll. Roll the clock back and re-do the whole thing again and I'm 100% positive there would have been a different result.

Have you ever been in the right place @ the right time?

Any ideas on how to keep showing up at the right place at the right time with the right idea? Or is even thinking like that a complete waste of time?

February 12, 2008

reasons I'm video blogging

• improve my video chops. the more I do it - the better I get

• improve ability to explain my process. even when I'm not entirely sure what the hell I'm doing

• to confront & overcome the fear of being exposed - of not being perfect

• perhaps make some of this weird music a bit more accessible by showing "how the sausage is made"

• to open up a space around my musical effort where conversations can happen, views are exchanged and ideas can be shared.

• it's simultaneously an ego boost & an ego check

most importantly.

• when all this music is done and recorded and available to the world as a complete artistic statement - I want there to be a bread crumb trail of how it all came about.

February 11, 2008

video blog VB #3

vid blog #3 is up.

after taking the advice of commenters on myspace I spent the wknd listening to all the stuff I recorded.

I highlight 1 very very raw idea in vid blog # 3 embedded below.

Copies are Free, context is NOT

I've Been meaning to post about the Kevin Kelly article about what WON'T be free -or rather - what will be worth paying for.

It's an in depth read - totally worth it if you're pondering what happens when selling copies isn't the business we're in anymore.

The Future of Content: copies are (feels like) Free, context is NOT: "

Inspired by Kevin Kelly's work



(Via MediaFuturist.)

February 07, 2008

video blog VB #2

lack of motivation to play

ever been there?

also posted on the myspace blog

there's more conversation about the vid blogs over there.

video blog VB#1

Since mid Dec I've been playing around with new musical ideas that seem to be heading towards similar territory as Outre. Maybe.

One of the advantages of having been through this whole music creation, practice, perform, record, release thing is that I have more confidence that my ideas will actually see the light of day. So this time around I'm going to do a regular video blog about it.

Rather than create in private, and only let it loose into the world once "it's done", I'm going to do regular video blogs about the process I'm going through to figure out all these ideas.

See - even though I have ideas - I have no clue what form they'll take.

So I'm doing this video blog as a way to document the process of figuring that out. And instead of just keeping it for myself - I'm posting it on youtube and embedding the videos here.

The first vid blog just lays out the concept - and shows a very basic over-view of how I'm working. I'll get into nitty gritty stuff along the way.

Creation is painful for me. I go through terrible bouts of doubt and self judgement. But I also experience those wonderful moments when things click. I want to make sure I have some video rolling for all those moments. Hopefully you guys will find it entertaining & inspiring.

First video blog is embedded below.

My video blog YouTube page is Please subscribe if you're interested.

February 06, 2008

follow me on Twitter

I gave up on Jaiku - google bought it out - ignored it and I only know 2 people using it.

I'm on twitter now. everyone uses twitter. they're going for mass - huge mass.

fol-low me . . and I'll, fol-low you and I . . . .


February 05, 2008

Spinning Technicolor Pizza Wheel of Death

4 years. That's how long my 12' macbook lasted. Today it totally failed.
I think the mother-ship in Cupertino sent the signal to all these "older" devices that shiny new devices are available - and it's their duty to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of market share and stock prices.