I’ve been working on and off for the past few months on a book I’ve decided to call ‘Music in the Digital Age‘.

My intention is to finish it this year – and because the year is going to be a busy one (not least because of my commitment to writing another book called Radio in the Digital Age), I’ve decided to give myself a bit of an extra incentive.

So I’ve published the book. Launched it today. It may not be finished – but it’s available here now. You can go and download it whenever you feel like it. Pay whatever you want (including free). It’s available as a PDF, and in iPad and Kindle-friendly versions.

A brief synopsis

Music is both culture and commerce. Those two things are inextricably linked. In different periods of history, music culture and music commerce are profoundly different.

In the age of print, the main way in which music was produced, distributed and consumed was on paper. Music was dots on a page. The electric age, with its introduction of recordings and broadcasting, radically transformed the ways in which music made meaning for people, and consequently the ways in which it made money.

And just as the electric age was profoundly disruptive to the musicians, businesses and fans of music when it first came along, so too is the digital age.

The way to navigate such changes is to understand them. In order to adapt to the new environment and thrive it’s important to make informed, deliberate and progressive responses that are appropriate to the opportunities of the new context – rather than fearful, reactive and conservative ones that view the new environment simply as a threat and as chaos.

This book aims to provide a guide to those changes – not to tell you what you should do – but so that you can make intelligent, rational and strategic choices about your own music business, or so that you can come to understand the changes in the ways in which music is used and understood as part of our new and increasingly dominant music culture.

The story so far

I’m about 70 pages into the book, so there’s a bit of meat on the bones already. All updates will be delivered to readers for free, so it will grow as it progresses. I plan to update it every few weeks throughout the course of the year – improving as well as expanding on it.

There’ll be some case studies, some handy tips and some interesting stories – but for the most part, its purpose is to step back from the music industries and consider just what it is that’s going on, and what that means.

As you’d expect, it addresses and updates my previous ebook The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online – but aims to be a far more comprehensive and in-depth work.

Pay whatever you think it’s worth

If you’re at all interested – go download it. The recommended price is US$7.99 (that’s about £5) US$5.00* – but what you pay is entirely up to you. You can have it for nothing if you want, and you can pay more if you prefer. I’m grateful either way. And of course, all updates to the book, once you have it, are free.

Since uploading the book, several people have already paid money for it, which means I am absolutely committed to making this happen. And to be honest, given the fact that it was back in 2007 that the 20 Things ebook came out – it’s about bloody time, don’t you reckon?

I aim to make it helpful and interesting. If I can manage those two things, I’ll consider it a success. But you can be the judge of that. Look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback as we go along.

*Update: After a bit of experimentation, I found that when the recommended price is $5, people tend to pay $5 or more – even though they can have it for any amount they choose – even free. When the recommended price was $7.99 – similar numbers of people downloaded, but NOBODY paid. I think it’s a psychological tipping point. Interesting.