This conversation is responsible for my next book

Sometimes speculative public funding works. Friends of mine went to South By Southwest Interactive. They’re smart people, they’re from Birmingham, and the idea was that they would bring back new perspectives and new technologies that would help the creative and economic wellbeing of the city as a whole. As far as I’m concerned, this was a resounding success.

Yesterday, they met up to chat about what they’d learned from it – and they put it online, live, as they chatted. I saw it after the fact, as you can here. Sadly, three of the six participants spend most of the time off-camera – but even so, I actually found this inspiring.

And here’s the important bit: I’m actually going to do try and do something interesting because this happened.

Stef, Joanna, Ruth, Pete, Nick, and Dom (who are they?) talked about social media. They talked about the ways in which creatives can make money online. They talked about the difference between the early adopters and the rest of the world.

One of the things that strikes me about this chat is how utterly healthy and cross-disciplinary it is. If you want a model for getting people in the creative industries to have productive and progressive conversations, then the model seems to be to put them in front of an audience when they do it. Doesn’t hurt to send them to Texas first either.

The other thing that strikes me about this conversation is just how much stuff there is to think about when it comes to the creative industries online. My little corner of interest as far as that is concerned is mostly to do with the music industries – though what I have to say seems to be applicable in some ways across the creative sector.

But it got me thinking…

Just how many issues are there to think about when it comes to the online music environment?

I wrote about 20 Things, but that seems like such a long time ago. Since then, I’ve been all sorts of interesting places, talked to all sorts of interesting people – and I get asked all sorts of interesting questions.

So I sat down and I tried to bring to mind all of the questions I’ve ever been asked about online music. There were dozens of them. Some of them come up a lot. And so I looked at the list for possible areas of duplication and overlap, and I’ve trimmed it down to 100 questions I keep getting asked about music online.

So that’s the working title of the new e-book I’m working on. I have a good set of 100 questions I’ve been asked, and I have what I think are 100 helpful — or at least instructive — answers to those questions.

The questions range from the very good, seemingly straightforward but utterly loaded question ‘How can we make money?’ through to ‘How do I make something viral?’ and ‘How should I choose a digital aggregator?’.

I’ve taken the approach that most people who ask these questions are intelligent, talented and thoughtful people, but who may not necessarily have a great deal of experience with the internet. They’ve sent email and used Google, certainly, but they may not write their own PHP. I’ll explain terms as I go, and if so moved, I may even provide diagrams.

But it’s a work in progress.

I did toy with the idea of writing it and then just putting it up for download as one big thing – but last time, some people seemed to like the episodic nature of the book. And it also gave people an opportunity to feed back and give me extra ideas and pointers that I was able to include in the finished PDF.

So I’ll throw each of them up here as I write them, if that’s okay with you. The order of questions I answer on the blog may not necessarily coincide with the order in which they appear in the finished product. Consequently, I won’t bother numbering them. You can just count them as I go, if you like.

But hopefully this stuff will be useful to you. And if it’s not useful to you, perhaps it will be interesting to someone you know.

Are we sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.