Tag Archives: matthew good

a musician who puts social media to good use.

Canadian singer/songwriter Matthew Good is probably one of the more progressive practitioners of social media in his field. So it was really cool this weekend to meet him in person and ask him questions … because of a contest he ran via social media.

Good recently created M+, a sort of uberfan community where, for a $25 annual subscription, one receives access to bonus content — demos, videos, events, etc. It’s not dissimilar to how The Damnwells are using pledges from fans to finance their new record, which I blogged about a while ago. A few days before his show in Rochester, he posted the following:

Fig. 1: A Special Opportunity for M+ Members!

The reaction was swift and enthusiastic, some fans offering to drive several hours for the opportunity. As luck (and perhaps persistence) would have it, my brother and I both made the cut for the 10 fans for the soundcheck and Q&A. He played a couple of tracks (“Great Whales of the Sea” and “It’s Been Awhile Since I Was Your Man,” which they had not played in, er, a while and repeated the ending a few times), talked a bit and then threw the floor open to questions.

I asked a rambling question about his use of social media (it sounded much better in my head!) and his use of it to get straight to the fans. He responded that while he finds it a handy promotional avenue, it would be a mistake for up-and-coming acts to hitch their fortunes to social media in a vacuum. Good said touring, physically connecting with fans from town to town (which he’s done for 20 years), was key. Bands who bank on mainly spreading the word via social media without touring would just get lost in the “white noise,” he said. In short, it’s about selling the steak, not the sizzle. For Good’s full answer, see this video. (Also see more photos.)

While Good refers to his activities as promotional, it’s worth noting he doesn’t use it completely one-way. He is fairly responsive on his blog — which he updates feverishly — sometimes replying to comments and overall keeping the discussion lively (and occasionally intense). On Twitter, Good tweets regulary, but doesn’t reply often (his most regular @ replies include Pete Yorn, who ranks among the top musicians in overall social-media use). His Facebook page is more a place for fans to interact, as Matt closed down his personal account a couple years ago because he could not keep up with the raft of friend requests and comments from fans.

From left, Colin, our new friend Travis from Canton and Matthew Good's guitarist Stu Cameron talking after the soundcheck.

From left, Colin, our new friend Travis from Canton and Matthew Good's guitarist Stu Cameron talking after the soundcheck.

So while he’s too busy to take full advantage of two-way communication opportunities, he certainly has more of a plan and earnestness than the Oprahs and Ashtons who jump on Twitter for trendiness or ego fulfillment. Matt’s tweets generally point readers toward his blog or feature observations about the town he’s visiting (or the occasional odd story such as the guy in NYC who somehow thought he was Brandon Flowers of The Killers). Instead of chasing a social media outlet because it’s trendy, Good has sound reasons for what he uses. Or to use a popular mantra: Goals first, then tools.

The experiment in Rochester is, I hope, the start of a new way of giving his fans a window into his life in a face-to-face way. The important lesson is that social media, to him, is not an end in itself but a means to build and better engage audiences. And for a guy who plays and tours hard, the live interaction, even if just a half-hour, between the mercurial artist and his band with the fans likely does all parties some good.

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thursday travelogue: tantalizing toronto.

When visiting Toronto the hardest thing to do (other than find parking) seems to be getting the bill at the end of any escapade. It’s as if the city’s denizens don’t want you to leave.

We recently visited to catch Canadian rocker Matthew Good performing in Massey Hall, and found we could quickly fill any down time with any number of fascinating options.

Pantages Hotel: This urban chic hotel is not cheap, but in off-peak periods not particularly expensive either. Location is outstanding — across from Massey Hall, about a block from the Eaton Centre — and the service top-notch. When we visited, the elegant martini lounge had a piano-drum duo, with the pianist displaying a diverse, dazzling, almost dizzying repertoire.

Massey Hall: I can see why Matthew Good recorded a live album there. Not a bad seat in the house, and amazing acoustics. Good performed a great show here, as did opener Mother Mother, who are well worth checking out. The lineup shows Massey Hall is not just a place to catch live entertainment, but a venue musicians want to play.

The Irish Embassy: This charming pub and grill is easily in my 5 favorite bars anywhere. The food is excellent, selection of beverages pleasing and staff almost always outstanding. One server faltered toward the end of our third (yes, third) visit of the weekend, but overall good times ruled. Also interesting that on Friday we found ourselves a table away from a friendly couple also going to the Matthew Good concert.

Eggspectations: True, it’s a chain, but the Eaton Centre location is a top-shelf breakfast joint. Outstanding food (quality and quantity), attentive service and reasonable prices.

Fran’s Restaurant: We visited the site on Victoria Street, a seeming extension of the Pantages Hotel, where the eatery serves up first-class diner food. If you want to fill up for a busy day, I highly recommend the Fran’s Big Breakfast. (Now if only someone could improve its Flash-driven Web site.)

Eaton Centre: I’m not a fan of malls, but found the Eaton Centre reasonably tolerable even the weekend before Christmas. Maybe it’s because Canadians are more polite? An amazing array of shops and restaurants, although the Richtree Market was far too busy on Saturday for us to wait in the long line for dinner.

Toronto ranks among the most exciting, diverse and cosmopolitan cities in North America, and always worth a visit. Just don’t expect the locals to want you to leave too soon.

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top 12 albums of 2009. couldn’t do just 10.

We’ve had such an outstanding year for music, I couldn’t get down to 10. Albums in the top 5 could have been other years’ best record. Without further ado …

12. M. Ward, Hold Time — If anyone’s gonna make money from their music playing in Bud Light ads, may as well be someone as distinctly skilled as Ward. His musicianship, offbeat arrangements and voice sounding like an old soft sweater probably deserve a campaign with a better beer. Best song: The beerselling yet ingratiating shuffle of “Never Had Nobody Like You.”

11. Dex Romweber Duo, Ruins of Berlin — He doesn’t have the voice of when he led Flat Duo Jets, but Dex’s rockabilly is way cooler than anything on the radio. He’s learn to adjust what he does over the years, but stays true to his musical influences. Best song: “Picture of You,” a jaunty yet plaintive rockabilly gem.

10. Madeline, White Flag — A fine example of songwriting in the Southern gothic tradition. Consider her Neko Case’s deeper voiced long-lost cousin from the sticks. Best song: “This Train,” a folk throwback train song.

9. Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown — I’ll admit it. The first time I heard “Longview,” I never dreamed the band would be this good and for so long. But this testament to 21st century living, the agony and the ecstasy, is a worthy follow-up to American Idiot. Best song: The most upbeat tune, “Last of the American Girls,” where they let their California roots infuse their post-punk ethos.

8. Tegan and Sara, Sainthood — Tegan and Sara albums usually take a while to grow on me, but I’m still not digging this as much as many previous efforts. Plenty of good head-bobbing riffs and make-you-think lyrics though. Best song: “On Directing,” a vintage example of their catchy licks and clever songwriting.

7. Good Old War, Good Old War — Better harmonies than even Crosby, Stills and Nash. There, I said it. This group is a revelation, a throwback to a time when honest-to-goodness vocals were more important than studio tricks. Best song: “Tell Me,” one of the prettiest songs you’ll expect to ever hear.

6. David Gray, Draw the Line — Gray felt his music was getting stale (I’d agree), so he ditched his band and started from scratch. He brings a new energy and outlook, but fortunately his usual vocal prowess remains. Best song: The odd coupling of Gray with Annie Lennox on “Full Steam Ahead,” a lot of singing skills on one track.

5. Butterfly Boucher, Scary Fragile — Between this effort and Flutterby, the British songstress has recorded two of the most overlooked albums of the decade. With lyrical, musical and vocal skills, she’s got it all, and maybe someday the world will notice. Best song: With its deep-breath introduction, ultracatchy melody line and stop-go-stop setup, “I Found Out” isn’t just the best song on this album, I’d give it the nod for Song of the Year.

4. Tragically Hip, We Are the Same – The latest from my favorite band features more great stories marvelously told by Gordon Downie surrounded by solid musicianship. There’s a deeper feeling to this release than much of their catalog, and Gordie’s vocals seem to get better with age. Best song: “Coffee Girl,” which would be a huge hit in some alternative universe.

3. The Damnwells, One Last Century — Track after track of catchy rock tunes wonderfully rendered. And did I mention the band released it as a free download? This mostly unheralded band seems incapable of recording a bad tune. Best song: Kind of a toss-up between gorgeous ballad “Dandelion” and rocker “55 Pictures.”

2. Matthew Good, Vancouver – The newest and best of a very impressive catalogue combined the cinematic sweep of Avalanche with some of the intimacy of Hospital Music. The songs are larger than life with the stories running the gamut from war (as always) to small-town frustration to his concerns about what’s happening to his hometown of Vancouver. Best song: “Us Becomes Impossible,” grammar issues notwithstanding, is a perfect example of the powerful build Good masters.

1. Avett Brothers, I And Love And You – Masterfully written, performed and produced (hat tip to Rick Rubin). The Avetts have always had the ability, but sometimes sloppiness kept this from becoming evident. Here, it’s all focused on their ability. Easily the album of the year. Heck, I have it as the #2 song of the decade. Best song: The title track, which will take residence in your head so long you’ll have to charge it rent.

There you are. Did I miss anything?

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