Friday, 30 December 2011

Should you pay to have your music reviewed?

Moonjune received this in a email:

"We will consider all discs for review. However, we can expedite and guarantee reviews for $25 / disc, and do additional feature stories or interviews for $50 a piece. We've had a number of labels ask lately and just wanted to provide that information."
-James McQuiston
Editor, NeuFutur (print magazine)


So its come to the point of magazines/blogs charging to do reviews?

Thats just shite and not the first time I've heard of it either.


I wonder if you have to pay extra for a good one?

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Is your music only popular because of marketing?

Matt at Liv 2 by kevinfeazey
Matt at Liv 2, a photo by kevinfeazey on Flickr.

Someone suggested that I have gained an audience only because I've invested in adverts and done lots of work on marketing. Even after investment in ads all my albums have turned a profit (unless you include the hours I've spent working on them and promoting them). If you're not going to invest in your own music who else is going to? I've never made a single claim myself about the quality of the music unless its a quote from a magazine or blog reviewer. Never, I think this sort of thing needs to be honest and credible. Integrity is essential.

The reason I learned these marketing skills was to give me more musical freedom, i thought working hard on building an audience would allow me to make interesting records rather than trying to appeal to an audience that slowly diminishes. I wanted to make the records I wanted to make, interesting records, stuff I wanted to hear. I wanted to retain my integrity and engage honestly with the audience. And I genuinely like the audience, bloody lovely people and their friendship is its own reward.

So by building it with hard work, what is wrong with that? I've reinvested the money made in ads in magazines and online, I've done my own PR and marketing and worked hard at social media. Done my own booking, artwork and web design and handed out flyers outside gigs in the freezing cold. Pretty much everything apart from drums by stu and Chrissie Caulfield who played Violin (both brilliantly) and Paul Mockford who is an amazing photographer and Kev Feazey who produced the records.

So yeah some of it was due to marketing and PR but NONE of that works without music that people genuinely like. People aren't idiots, they only tell their friends about music that they love.

I'm really proud of the relationship I have with listeners, I'm very lucky to have them and thanks for all your support in 2011.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

You're in Guitar Player ?

MattS GP Flick by mattstevensguitar
MattS GP Flick, a photo by mattstevensguitar on Flickr.
This month in the US magazine Guitar Player there is an interview I did about Relic and what gear I use and using the web to build an audience. It's kind of a big deal for me because when I was growing up I used to read all the guitar magazines I could get locally in Rushden. Guitar World, Guitarist, Guitar For The Practising Musician and most of all Guitar Player. Guitar Player was the most highbrow one, it had the interviews with Joe Pass and John Mclaughlin and articles about Chord Substitution when the others focused on "whos faster Satch or Vai?". Of course I still loved the other magazines but I always had lot of respect for GP. I used to sleep with a big stack of guitar magazines by my bed, next to my stack of heavy metal vinyl and SNES games.

Just before Christmas I got the issue with the interview in it, I was stupidly excited. It was something I'd wanted to do for years. I remember working in a shop that sold the magazine thinking one day wouldn't it be amazing to do an interview with them. It seemed impossible, people from Rushden aren't in guitar magazines, this was another world. The interview seemed to go well and certainly got people interested in the music from the messages on my Facebook page and on Youtube.

I also used to think once people were in magazines they made a lot of money from music. Sadly this turned out not to be true! However this year I have felt like some validation for my music, even thou I've turned down "credible" record labels that this is worthwhile music, music that people like. I know from talking to the audience online this seems to be true, that it wasn't vanity publishing. All my albums turned a small profit. I remember being terrified of spending a few hundred pounds to make the first record in a proper studio, unsure if we would ever see that money again. You have to be brave to get anywhere.

Total sales for my records are around 4000 now so that shows people are interested. I am very grateful to this audience, it means a lot to be able to pay for recordings and earn a living from music.

When Loop Baby was christened we put 'Musician" as my job, something I never thought would happen.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Have a great one guys :)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

House Concerts :)

I posted on Twitter yesterday today about house concerts and a few people seemed interested. This makes me happy as I love house concerts and they allow me to play places where I can't draw a massive crowd without losing lots of money. What normally happens is that the host charges a small amount (say £10) to the people coming to cover the musician's costs and travel. 

Whether you allow strangers in to your house is up to you or if you just want it to be just you and your friends that's also cool. It's your night and the important thing is you enjoy yourself. 

Your address will not be posted on my website for all and it's not a public venue! Some hosts provide food/drink but it's up to you, it's your night so whatever makes you happy is all good! 

If you can supply a PA/little amp that is great or I can bring my tiny busking amp :) You don't need a massive house or anything like that :)  To cover costs we'd probably be looking at around a minimum of £100 to £150 in the UK, probably twice that in Europe. No US house concerts planned as yet!

Thanks loads - my email is if you want to set one up :) 

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Islwyn Bootleg/Merry Christmas

The Islwyn Bootleg/Merry Christmas

A 36 minute Live Concert from the last date of the Ghost tour. Features more material from Relic and Echo than anything else. The quality isn't amazing, hence the free download One of my favorite gigs, even thou I was having some equipment problems. Lovely audience.

Thanks to Rob for getting the recording to me

Listening back to it makes you release what playing lots of gigs does to your playing - the lead playing is a bit crazy.

Watch out for a guest appearance from the amazingly talented Alun Vaughan on bass on Big Sky, I wish his bass was a bit louder! Track listing Rusty

Burning Bandstands

Spencer Park

Flies In The Basement

Dolls House


Big Sky

Sunday, 18 December 2011




Hope you're good? 


Just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all you list people and here is something worth watching over the Christmas period, a Zappa lecture from 1984 talking about composition and all sorts:


Top fella and sadly missed (although I'd probably leave the puppet opera). I do love a good lecture at Christmas. 


Everyone who has ordered T-Shirts - they will be despatched Tuesday/Wednesday of this week, apologies for the delay, it was out of my hands on this one. Anyone else who wants a CD or T-Shirt you can order them from:


and last posting day is Wednesday for UK christmas. 


You can also download my pay what you want Christmas song from:


The new issue of Guitar Player is now out in the UK and features an interview I did with them, this really meant a lot to me as I  grew up with piles of Guitar Player magazine by my bed and I discovered so much wonderful music and information from them and it was from them I first learned about musicians from Fripp to Zappa to Nels Cline. A few of the end of year polls are in and I've been pleased to see Relic and If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe in some of them, which is really cheery. I'll post them as they come in at:


I really hope you have a great Christmas and thank you so much for all your support this year, it has really meant a lot to all of us here at Spencer Park HQ, my wife and I and Loop Baby. If it wasn't for your support none of this would happen. A new year beckons and then everything changes.


Happy Christmas



Matt Stevens

Friday, 16 December 2011

Relic Track By Track Part 10 - Matt Stevens - 30 END

John Barry passed away this year and this is a track very much influenced by him, hes a major hero of mine. My friend, teacher and mentor Richard Beaumont introduced to his music outside of the bank holiday bond themes. Fantastic composer (as is Richard). I like the Mellotron a lot on this. The title refers to the song being the end of a trilogy of guitar albums with Echo, Ghost and Relic. So its all about the end of something. Its too easy too look back at the past, time to stop looking backward, always move forward. Like a beardy shark.

Some people have been critical of the ending for being a bit odd. It is. I like it, and I think its an interesting way to end an album. Its me on my knees attacking a line 6 DL4 pedal, changing the delay times to make UFO sounds.

If you've ever seen my live show i do this a lot.

Its odd - Relic has been criticised for being both too weird and too safe. Its a real problem working out who the audience is for this stuff. I've been very lucky to find a supportive audience so far. Thank you.

Bill Hicks and the meaning of life...

Massive inspiration to me.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Relic Track By Track part 9 Matt Stevens - Frost


A tribute to Celtic Frost, not that it sounds like them, well a bit. Top drumming from Stu on this, he really managed to get 7/8 to groove rather than "techno prog".

'7/8 time signature and a bit of a Fripp lead tone. I really like Kev's bass line on this.

The end lead is influenced by Chris Poland's lead on early Megadeth records when they were the "state of the art speed metal band".

This is the song that really seems to divide people, they either love it or hate it. A result either way. Often its hard to get any reaction from people.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Why am I starting to charge for Ghost now? Do I believe all music should be free?

A few people asked so.....

My thoughts on the whole Free/Pay What You Want thing was to use "free" content (in this case an album) to gain an audience for my music. My music is bloody weird/quite odd but hopefully quite melodic so I was really hoping to connect to an audience but it was a hard sell. Weird guitar instrumentals in odd timings - doesn't inspire much confidence does it?

To an extent free/PWYW has worked quite well, I now have an email list of around 3000 people and the album has sold well enough to recoup all costs. A massive result (and thanks very much). 

Do I believe all music should be free? No. My albums are expensive to make because I pay for skilled people to work on them, I want to make great records.  If the audience doesn't choose to pay for music we are all in trouble, there won't be the money to pay skilled people to work on records and the overall quality will decrease. Sure there are massive advances in the quality of technology but you still need skilled people to work on them. The skill set of a guitarist is different to that of a recording engineer (although they can be one and the same). 

In the case of Ghost it was all about gaining the attention of an audience, by removing all barriers for people to hear the music in the eventual hope that people would be willing to pay for future recordings or go to a concert or tell a friend about it. Also if people do choose not pay for it you can torrent it anyway, a reality whether you like it or not. I have no problem with people sharing my music, it's free marketing (as long as they are not exploiting it commercially). 

I also like the whole DIY thing coming from being a fan of US Hardcore when I was younger.

Personally I'd be more concerned if no one wanted to torrent my music, it often means no one cares. The hard thing is gaining the attention of the audience where there is so much music available. 

Now there is an audience I will probably charge for future recordings but also make some content available free, a balance. 

You can download Ghost Free/Pay What You Want for the rest of today from:

Cheers :)

UPDATE!! Ghost is no longer available free/pay what you want but my new album Relic is:

Cheers - AMAZING debate on this post!!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Relic Track By Track Part 8 - Matt Stevens - Sand Part 2

This is part of an abandoned epic really long song, it was first demo'd last year and the demo was on the no longer available download album Esoteric alongside some other parts of the 7 i originally wanted to do. Its a backwards chord sequence with some backwards solos and it ended up sounding a bit like Can. The drums are a loop Kev Feazey put together out of some of Stu's playing.
I think this was the first one I wrote for Relic and its a bit more "Ghost" than the rest of the record.
I like it, this is the shortened version, originally it was really really long.
I might finish it one day.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Latest Newsletter

Latest Newsletter by mattstevensguitar
Latest Newsletter, a photo by mattstevensguitar on Flickr.

I took the photo above in Islington the other day, not sure what it is :)

Hope you're good? Welcome to all the new people on the list :)

I just want to say thanks loads to everyone who has ordered T-Shirts and CDs this week - orders should be dispatched next week. Thanks again, there is still time to get the Limited Edition Relic T-Shirts (some sizes are running low now).

There is a new Christmas song to download at:

It's free/pay what you want as usual. If you choose to pay it is greatly appreciated.

And if you want my 2nd album Ghost on free/pay what you want download you can get it for a few more days from:

After Sunday it will be full price for the download. Please tell your friends if you like the music, it does make a massive difference. Feel free to torrent it and burn CDs, I really want people to hear it, like we have been saying for a while obscurity is the enemy, not piracy. If anyone is a member of any forums and is willing to post about my music that would be greatly appreciated.

And for all those that have asked, mum and baby are doing well! Loop baby is 2 weeks old today!

As ever thanks for all your support.


Matt Stevens

Thursday, 8 December 2011

My album Relic Track By Track Matt Stevens - Scapegoat


I love this one, mainly due to the middle part by Chrissie Caulfield once again, her violin really sounds amazing. When i make records the only person I'm trying to please, initially is me. Go listen to her band Catscans now!

This song reminds me of that Summers/Fripp record. Through this one there is a Bm sharp 5 chord going through virtually the whole song, its almost a one chord wonder, in 13/8 with other chords over the top. The middle is my favorite bit with this ascending violin part that we looped up and then we put piano on it, i like the way it sounds quite straight forward but isn't.

Live i play this with a whammy pedal. Video here.

I think sometimes what i really want to do is be a composer.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Limited Edition Relic T-Shirts Available Now

Limited Edition High Quality Screen Printed Black Relic T-Shirts are now available from:

Thanks loads, your support allows me to keep making records :)

We decided to do some as people have asked for the them and we sold 10 on the first day! Amazing :)


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