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I’m back – suitably rested and refreshed. I’m in Birmingham and I start back at work today. Things may resume. I’m realistic enough not to aim for normality, but I’m ready for a bit of routine again. As of today, my research sabbatical is over. I’ve been away from work, and I’ve been travelling a great deal. And while I may have a bit of a tan (see above) – I have certainly been working. More on that in a second.

My first big news is that since I last wrote, I have become a professor. My new job title is Professor of Music Industry Innovation. Obviously that includes a lot of stuff about digital technology in the music industries – but also innovation around enterprise, independent business and alternative culture, and music as a tool for social change. And then there’s all that radio stuff I tend to go on about.

Of course, I couldn’t fit all of that on one business card, so Music Industry Innovation has had to act as shorthand for what it is I study.

In terms of what I’ve been doing, well it’s been a little while, so let me bring you up to speed.

Over the past few months I’ve finished my book Radio in the Digital Age and packed it off to the editor; completed a journal article about European jazz agencies and the internet that’s been accepted for publication; an article about New Zealand jazz for the forthcoming AudioCulture website; and I’ve made a start on a piece for a Latin American journal about radio.

I have a couple of academic conferences coming up, and I’m going to be presenting a paper about Bandcamp and independent music discovery at Severn Pop at the University of Bristol on the 25th of this month. In April, it’s the big conference that brings to a close the wonderful Rhythm Changes European Jazz research project I’ve been involved with for the past few years.

But all that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 2013 looks to be an interesting one, to say the least.

I’ve been in some pre-production meetings for a documentary film I’m going to be making with the guys from Blue Hippo Media, who made the excellent Last Shop Standing. My documentary is about the network of independent music collectives in Brazil – Fora do Eixo.

I’ve been studying them for a couple of years now, and there’s lots more to be done. By connecting live music venues, artists and festivals as well as labels and studios around the country, the collectives have developed a separate economy from that of the mainstream music industry… to the point where they now actually have their own currency. Really. It’s a fascinating story.

More on that on my Brazil research blog.

I was on TV in New Zealand talking about music business and music culture in the digital age. The show’s called Media 3 – and you can watch that here (skip to 18m 30 for my bit).

I’ve also been working on a couple of e-books. Music in the Digital Age has been a work in progress for some time now, but it’s already available for download if you’re interested.

The other book is called The 360 Deal – and all going well, it should be ready and available by the end of the week.

I’ve been keeping it pretty well under wraps just so I could get a head start on it before launching it. It’s essentially an edited collection of very short essays by people in the music industries. I’ve asked a whole bunch of really smart and interesting music people to give, in around 360 words, the best piece of advice they could possibly give someone just starting out on their music career.

The range of advice is astonishing, and the calibre of contributors is quite humbling. Like Music in the Digital Age, The 360 Deal will grow as time goes on. My aim is to end up with 360 pieces of advice by 360 people in 360 words. The book is going to be available for sale for $3.60 (or more, if you prefer) with all proceeds going to Music Basti – a charity in India that brings music workshops to homes for children affected by extreme poverty.

It’s a really good cause – and the book is astonishingly great (I can say this, because I really only compiled it – other people have done the writing). It’s turning out to be an incredible collection of music industry wisdom, practical and pragmatic advice, and completely inspirational writing. I can’t wait to show it to you. With any luck you should be able to see that by Friday.

And finally, I guess, I’ve been having conversations with some really fascinating people in the music and tech sectors and there are some interesting projects in the works. All I can really say about that for now is ‘watch this space’…

It was lovely to be away – but it’s also nice to be back.