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Steve Cooke

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About Steve Cooke

  • Rank
    Muse In Training
  • Birthday 01/10/1967

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Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Stockton-on-Tees, UK
  • Interests
    Songwriting, music technology, poetry, cinema, politics, history and association football (soccer)

Previous Fields

  • Lyricist, Composer or Both?
    Composer and occasional lyricist
  • Musical Influences?
    Randy Newman, Lo-Fidelity Allstars, Alabama 3, Mr. Scruff, Luke Haines, The Auteurs, Carter USM, Sly & The Family Stone, Howlin' Wolf, Eels, Propellerheads, Gang of Four, Tindersticks, Stereo MC's, Devo, Leonard Cohen, The Clash, Portishead, Massive Attack, Aimee Mann, The Chemical Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, Herbie Hancock, Mark Eitzel, American Music Club, Jimmy Smith, Kraftwerk, Us3, Frank Tovey, Fad Gadget, Ian Dury, Shriekback, XTC, The The, Elvis Costello, PJ Harvey, Japan, Fila Brazillia, Television and John Carpenter's film soundtracks
  1. My adventures in songwriting and online collaboration are discussed in the latest 'Local Heroes' podcast interview released by Teesside Band Archive. It features chat about my music, the artists who have influenced my songs, favourite gear, the joys of playing keytar and three exclusive performances recorded in live session. You can hear the podcast on the Emeraz website at http://tinyurl.com/TBA4-SteveCooke.
  2. Good luck with that, but how about posting some links to your music so that potential applicants have an idea whether you're the type of artist they'd want to work with?
  3. What constitutes a critique?

    Another benefit of SoundCloud, as I see it, is that you can use the timed comment facility to solicit critiques on specific elements of a song. For some of the tracks in my 'Works in progress' set, for example, I've added comments asking for people's opinions on paricular parts of the recordings, such as what they think of the spoken vocal section in '20-20 vision' or the guitar solo in the same song. As the listener plays the track, that comment automatically pops up at the relevant point in the song and they can respond if they wish. It's quite a good icebreaker, actually. Instead of leaving the listener to think about how best to introduce a critical point, you actually invite it, you let them know that it's okay to say they don't like something and save them the hassle of coming up with a diplomatic way to bring up the topic of that dodgy middle-eight. Not everyone does this, of course, but I've found it a good way of getting feedback on elements of a song that I'm not sure about. This could also be a way of stopping people getting side-tracked with their critiques and throwing in too many red herrings. If you upload a work in progress which you know has a dodgy bass guitar part but you're really wanting feedback on the lyric or the vocal sound, you can add a disclaimer making sure that people know you're already of that point before they make it.
  4. What constitutes a critique?

    Whup! Look again, Jim... the topic of this thread had nothing to do with feedback on Lyrics, but entirely with completed songs. The majority of Musers seem to be "lyrics only" writers, and discussion often drifts into that direction. (I'm not one of them, therefore, I rarely, if ever, critique in the Lyrics Forum, except for a few in the Montly Lyric Forum to help get it started, and for the Silver Critiques). I've seen quite a few SoundCloud artists who are looking for lyricists and/or singers to collaborate with. To pick a random example, only today I was listening to a new track by Leijonamieli, a composer from Finland whose work I very much admire. His latest piece was posted with an expression of interest in hearing from a singer/lyricist who could add words (in English, not Finnish). Occasionally I think that some of the lyricists who hang around the lyric-writing forums here without ever seeming to progress to having their words put to music ought to get out there and proactively look for composers to work with.
  5. What constitutes a critique?

    Well, I guess that people know what I think about this. I found the dominant song-hosting service here, SoundClick, to be rather a staid format. I don't know how many plays other people get on 'Click, but I have noticed that the number of 'fans' and 'friends' being acquired by some very talented musicians was negligible. So not many people are automatically being notified when they upload new material. SoundCloud, on the other hand has a very good system for keeping you updated with developments, including the posting of new songs. Using the 'dashboard' facility, which you won't see as a non-member, you can monitor what's generating discussion, which tracks are getting praise and which ones are being criticised. I don't know whether it would reinvigorate the Muse or not. It might simply supersede this forum. I suspect it is already doing that because you can engage in similar dialogue with fellow songwriters on SoundCloud, both publicly and privately. The other positive aspect of the 'Cloud is that it's not only other songwriters who are taking part - which is an inevitable limitation of the Muse. There are plenty of the non-muso listening public becoming members and finding music there now. People who don't have any of their own material uploaded but who are able to comment on what they hear and interact with the musicians who've created it. So you're able to get detailed critiques from other songwriters and gauge the reactions of laypeople too.
  6. What constitutes a critique?

    Glad to see that you've set up camp on SoundCloud and received some detailed feedback for your songs already, including, for one track, quite a lively exchange of views. It works on the same principle as the Muse, in that commenting on other people's material will lead to them reviewing yours. But it also enables people who only want to listen to do just that without feeling that it's a club for just musos or just listeners rather than both types of audience. There are also some pretty well-connected people and relatively famous artists listening in on occasion and, when they like what they hear, expressing their support and enthusiasm to the ordinary rank 'n' file members like myself. I've had a message or two of that ilk in the short time I've been involved in the site and it's a real morale booster when you get acknowledgement from people one might regard as musical heroes.
  7. What constitutes a critique?

    I've found it pretty good in terms of the community aspect. There is a forum on the site, which I haven't explored much, but relationships (online ones, I mean) develop between members and they get to understand each other's interests and tastes, and start tipping people off about new material they might be interested in. And I don't just mean plugging their own stuff, but also saying "Hey, I spotted this track that I think you might like" and so on. This may spill over into other social networks such as Facebook. And collaborations are happening via SoundCloud - the tracks are there to show the results. And you get heard. Not everyone will like your stuff, but some might. I've achieved 8,000 plays in four or five months, compared with less than 200 on MySpace and barely 20 on Reverbnation. My SoundClick numbers are similar to the MySpace total. It soon became apparent which one I should focus on.
  8. What constitutes a critique?

    If someone posts a song on this website, they cannot seriously expect you to critique it with full knowledge of their character. They're asking you to listen to the song and assess it on its merits as a standalone work, not based on your understanding of their life history and personality. That sort of 'blind test' critique can be more useful too, sometimes, because you can start to have a conflict of interest when critiquing tracks by people with whom you've established some sort of relationship, which makes objective comment more difficult to make. And that's how we judge most of the songs we hear, isn't it? Actually, maybe that's optimistic on my part as much of the music we hear comes to us with the background gossip about the artists/stars/celebrities involved in making it. But that's not what we have in our mind when we listen to a new song by an artist we've not heard of previously. I don't feel the need to condemn all 'atta boy'/'good job' comments, though. If it's being done merely to meet a feedback quota, then I agree with the original poster that it's a bad thing. But in many cases it may be a genuine reaction from someone who feels less confident about writing detailed critiques than they are about posting their songs online. It's a limitation of this forum's format that simply writing 'nice', for example, may seem lazy. On the SoundCloud website, you might type the same thing at a specific point in a track (eg, 2:38) and it would widely be interpreted as a comment with some meaning because you were commenting on a particular event that took place in the track's progression, such as the introduction of a new instrument or a drum break. People would in most cases know exactly what your apparently bland remark was about. Here, though, you have to go to some trouble explaining exactly what you mean if you wish to comment on a specific aspect of a song or recording. That's no problem for me - I like the sound of my own typing, meaning I'll write quite a lot of detail if I'm in the mood. Some people, however, are less confident about that sort of thing.
  9. What constitutes a critique?

    I suspect that the format used by this forum is on the way out now, as happened to the discussion lists format (such as Yahoo! Groups) before it. SoundCloud is becoming increasingly popular as people can 'favorite' a track without feeling they need to write an essay but can also make general comments or leave very specific feedback about exact things in a recording. And often the comments are very helpful, whether left by fellow musicians or by non-muso listeners. Even the 'favouriting' has a use as it helps you to assess which of your tracks are the strongest in terms of popular appeal. My impression is that this works far better on SoundCloud than on, say, AcidPlanet, where the marking system turned into a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' routine with people giving each other 10 out of 10 in order to up their own ratings. Or so I've read, as my own presence on AcidPlanet has been somewhat nominal. It's also easier to follow what other people are saying about music they've heard on the site and then check it out for yourself. I'm not saying that Muse's Muse is no longer useful as a resource for songwriters or indeed that the discussion not specifically concerned with feedback has no value - it is and it does - but the critique side of things may possibly be moving to other formats.
  10. Double standards

    Nice one. I must admit that I haven't done much else on this song idea yet - so many different projects on the go right now - but your contributions are very much appreciated.
  11. Seeking Collaborator for Million Dollars Songs!!!

    You make yourself look like a fool with such ridiculous boasts.
  12. Songwriter Seeks Awesome Vocals

    Although you're not seeking to start a band, I'd have thought it couldn't do any harm to give a hint of what your stuff sounds like. You're willing to pay people, of course, but a good singer who feels inspired by your work would surely be even better.
  13. Hey, there's not much in your profile. Tell us something about yourself.

  14. I'm still new around here, but I'd have thought the people most likely to be guilty of self-promotion without offering critiques of their own are also the people least likely to read a thread specifically about that issue. I've only posted one song myself so far, but I will certainly endeavour to balance my own material with several critiques of other members' tracks. I listen, however, to learn; not to earn credits in the 'critique account'.
  15. Double standards

    If he'd been a black man, he would've gone to prison for it, too. Yet another double standard. It's nice to find a songwriting forum with some progressive-minded musos rather than the moral majoritarian types who dominate certain other message boards. I'm finally getting back into writing and recording new material after a near-decade-long period writer's block and general inactivity, and I genuinely appreciate these suggestions and examples. I've also followed up the links to your, Jim and Mark's online songs and, although you're all doing quite different things musically, I've enjoyed your stuff.