Twitter has been (rightfully, in many cases) maligned as a distraction, but at times the “microblog” can keep us connected in smaller bits of time, not larger. People read while something is rendering, when they feel a bit lonely or distracted to begin with (a bit like taking work to a virtual coffee shop), while they’re in line at the grocery looking at their phone. And for the bedroom- and studio-based music maker, Twitter reveals something of what the future might be like. Twitter itself can sometimes prove too unstructured to be useful, but that one service aside, it demonstrates that we can find ways of being connected to other music makers in new ways – ways that have probably only just begun to evolve.

Yesterday I looked at why I thought Imogen Heap was doing Twitter right – both as a model to follow, and a chance to see her as an artist in a different light. But I also hoped to hear who readers here might be following. In the informal tradition of “Follow Friday,” here’s a look at a few of those people.

Side note: I’ve actually gotten a whole lot of useful stuff from Twitter – it’s allowed me to keep connected to people I might otherwise lose touch with, and I’ve gotten great news leads and project stories out of it as a writer. I’ve gotten more technical help than musical – but that’s also helped me fix the technical stuff with servers and the like so I can get on with music and visuals. I have a mile-long list of complaints about how I think this sort of thing could work better, but – well, I’ve been online since the days when I had a 1200-baud modem. There’s always hope for change. Oh, and TweetDeck is the best client for processing information productively; I’m just waiting for multi-account support.

Reader Tips for this Week

The first two here also tour with Imogen Heap, but are great musicians themselves (with terrific accompanying solo careers). The last two take us another direction, thanks to one of CDM’s Twitter followers.

Zoe Keating, suggested by Tim/newmusicmonday in comments
Bio: “cello, computers, pancakes.” (great line)
Sample tweet: “mix, tweak, mix, listen, rest, mix, tweak, mix, re-record, listen, rest, go to post office, mix, mix, mix.”
Website | http://twitter.com/zoecello

Levi Weaver, also suggested by Tim
Bio: I’m always doing at least 3 things Ed.: hint – one of those is making great music
Sample tweet: “Just avoided RyanAir baggage fees the same way I used to try to make spankings not hurt as a child: Books down the back of my pants.”
Website | http://twitter.com/leviweaver

Todd Reynolds, the superstar violinist
Bio: Digital Violinist and Global Music Citizen and Advocate. Teacher.
Sample tweet: “If there is one thing that I learn over and over again in music, it’s that simplicity, when embraced, opens a straight shot to the core.”
MySpace | http://twitter.com/digifiddler

Steve Lawson, suggested by @MKS21471
Bio: “Bass 2.0 – musician, webbist, uni lecturer on music and technology, bass teacher, music journo… one of life’s enthusiasts. :o ) ”
Sample tweet: “WordPress nerds, what CHMOD settings do I need to have files uploadable to the server etc. but still be secure?” (hey, I told you this is part of what Twitter is useful for)
Website | http://twitter.com/solobasssteve

Steve’s blog, by the way, is full of tips on social media (still hate the term, but the idea is good). http://www.stevelawson.net/wordpress/

Regular Information Sources

Other active Twitter feeds I follow:
@stretta – of monome fame, “Graphic Designer. Musician. Tea snob.”
@Chris_Randall – of Audio Damage / Analog Industries
@podcasting_news – James Lewin on both his podcasting site and the prolific Synthtopia; expect a lot of tweets (but you won’t have to dig through RSS)
@wesen – for beats and powerful geeking on new projects like the Mididuino
@serial_consign – Greg Smith on digital media, culture, theory
MarkMosher is doing all sorts of things, Web and musical, including running the ModulateThis blog
@MusicThing – the blog is gone, but Music Thing lives on as Tom tweets

Modular Friends, Ableton Tips

Twitter is in everyone’s thoughts, this week, it seems. (Perhaps the perfect medium for a sagging economy?)

stretta himself rounds up a fantastic list of Twitter feeds, with an emphasis on modular synths.

As noted by Wire to the Ear (and note Oliver Chesler’s feed, too):
AbletonTweets, entirely unofficial tips on Live

Me

Oh, yeah:
The blog feed – more CDM business, CDM headlines
(I found it made sense to separate the two.)

Do say hi, and since I’ve lost track of who’s following them, send a @shout at me and I’ll take notice of you!

Micromusicblogging?

But what if Twitter really does seem like just a distraction? Could quick blog entries make you more productive musically, and help you share what you’re doing with others?

Dan Gillespie is trying a microblog concept in his own work: “MicroSong,” tagline, “publish your process.” It’s a bit like a musical tumbleblog – but only about the music, not the various Web distractions one finds online. He writes:

I’m hoping to have a couple friends and local artists come on and share their process when song writing and music making, this has always been the fun part for me.

Like I said, it’s just starting up, but it’s cool to see other people thinking the same sort of things. Maybe I’ll have to hook up with twitter as well.

microsong.blogspot.com

And yes, before someone steps in and says it, of course all of these are an additional drain of precious time. But then, that to me is the point – and it’s a good thing. Some of these ideas will prove to be distractions. But if you can find an approach where the benefit is worth the input, you’re likely to stumble upon something that’s efficient, that makes sense to you.

Let us know how it all works out, okay, Internets?

And, nope, this list isn’t close to comprehensive. That’s where you come in.

  • http://jimbalaya.us Jimbalaya

    Twitter can be incredibly useful from a mile-high view, as well…

    http://search.twitter.com (and, I'm sure, many other specialty sites/software) helps me follow certain topics by searching 'ableton' or '#ableton' and subscribing to those RSS feeds.

    So, it can be used as an interactive RSS feed as well… It's not JUST a total time-waster (really, seriously, it's not … not completely, anyway… mostly it isn't, because of the potential… so, it's potentially not wasting your time, usually…….)

  • Fintain

    Not a big fan to be honest. Maybe its just me but I don't care what people are doing on an hourly basis.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Fintain: of course, it's not just you. But then, if it's just what people are doing on an hourly basis, it's useless. I think just like a "blog," the Twitter feed / microblog can be whatever people put into them. Sometimes it'll be useless, sometimes it'll be wonderful.

    The big question is, now, can we find better ways of filtering / focusing on stuff that is worth our time. Twitter may not be the right place to do that, depending on needs — hence the music microblog Dan suggests above.

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve

    I've found so far it functions much like a decentralized forum. Conversations emerge, with the nice restriction that everybody has to keep it under 140 characters. God, I can think of many forums where that kind of restriction would be a blessing.

  • http://stretta.com Matthew Davidson

    When the masses moved from newspapers and televisions to the internet, the spread of information accelerated. I'm noticing a similar acceleration with tools like twitter. The progression from shiny new thing, to meme, to fad, to passé is compressed to a scary degree.

    I'm not saying this is a good thing or bad thing, I'm just saying it 'is'

    If you're starting out on twitter, it seems rather disjointed and fractured. What I've found is if you stick with it, your followers and who you follow gets refined to something resembling a community. I have a circle of monome friends, a circle of electronic music/modular friends, and a circle of friends who make me laugh. It is enjoyable.

    I've also made some valuable business contacts, and found work and jobs for people I know.

  • TLTL

    A bit behind on the times, but finally a reason to try out twitter! Where I live it is painfully unpopular. Seems to be very popular as an american thing.

  • http://ruinwesen.com wesen

    thx for the mention peter :) Of all the web2.0 tools around, twitter has to be the one i really love. I could lose all the other accounts, but twitter is like a slow moving big chat-stream. I met a lot of really interesting people through, got quite a few amazing opportunities (to perform, to talk, to learn things), and it's always a welcome way to distract myself :)

  • http://www.newmusicmonday.com Tim

    I will say that its the first "social network" where I've actually networked with people I didn't know. Even booked a gig through twitter.

  • http://soundthefreetrumpet.typepad.com/ Catching The Waves

    Twitter is both comfortable and unpredictable. Links and recommendations from complete strangers have helped me find websites that chime with my interests. It's also a convenient way of announcing site updates, such as

    *plug*

    new reviews of free CC-licensed albums, so it's another useful tool for net musicians.

    Plus, it makes me feel vaguely trendy – quite the novelty!

  • http://microsong.blogspot.com DGillespie

    Hey Peter, thanks for the big up. It's my first venture into this sort of thing, but it seems since the entire world of publishing is speeding up and changing, we should think about what that means for publishing our music as well.

    Exciting times, and always a big fan of CDM btw.

  • http://www.qbical.net Qbical

    I really like that ableton tips thingy, lot's of short tips. Really cool!

    Heard this track on soundcloud the other day, pretty funny : http://soundcloud.com/twestival/i-hate-mornings-y

  • http://seguesound.com Dri

    I dont mind Twitter. I like things like @AbletonTweet that turn Twitter into a kind of "Tip of the Day". Also i like some of my music production friends and colleagues (or guys and gals ive worked with) popping up with little words on what they are up to.

    I use Twitter personally and for my band. The band side is nice, and I've even used it to ponder a question aloud during a session and gotten replies that helped with some chord progression issues :) We're on as a band at: @seguesound

    Twitter has its shortcomings, like people using it like a slow IM service or just as fabricated marketing, but it's certainly not "evil". Compare the simplicity of Twitter, which almost taunts you to define the simplicity of the service for itself, to the absolutely ugly coding and advertising on MySpace. No comparison.

  • http://www.guitarnoize.com Jon

    I only just started using Twitter a couple of weeks ago and I love it! I previously thought it was kind of pointless but it has given me whole new dimension to my blog, once I integrate my Tweets it will be a great enhancement to Guitar Noize because some bits of news just don't warrant setting up an entire post.

  • http://www.podcomplex.com/blog Dan Foley

    Good to hear that Music Thing lives on! There is great potential in Twitter for musicians, although I think it might take a while for it to settle in.

    I had a plan to twitter the creation of a new RPM Challenge album this year, along similar lines to what Imogen and Abletontweets are doing. The idea was to document my learning process with Ableton Live – I usually use Pro Tools, but the creative flow with Ableton is quite different. Unfortunately, my video card had a meltdown last week, but I hope to get the feed running again now. If anyone is interested in my occasional Ableton tip/observation, you can find them @canabrism…

  • http://noticiasaudio.com det

    great post, though i didn't get what your twitter user is (CDM)….

    mine is @elcarpo, but i mostly tweet in spanish

    regards from buenos aires!