Relaxing at club Steve

I’m presenting a lecture at the University of Westminster tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, the trains from Birmingham are stupidly expensive first thing in the morning, so I’ve come down the evening before and the university has provided some on-campus accommodation for me, which is very handy.

But rather than sit alone in a room in student halls for the evening, I’ve popped around to visit Steve Lawson to hang out and talk about ideas for a New Music Strategies online event we’re planning for later in the year.

New Music Strategies is a group of five people (me in Birmingham, Steve in London, Ian in Oxford, Saskia in Amsterdam and Andrea in Berlin) who have overlapping interests and skills in the area of music innovation in the digital age – and who get together from time to time in order to work on strategy, consultancy and development projects.

That doesn’t mean we promote pop bands on MySpace or advise on how to ‘monetise’ Twitter. We don’t work with artists who want to be famous on the internet. There are plenty of other people dealing with that side of things.

What we’re interested in is music as a cultural force, a tool for social change, and an opportunity for participation and access rather than simply passive consumption – and we think of the internet as a conversational medium and social environment rather than simply a marketplace or a broadcast advertising medium.

And so we get involved in projects that strike us as interesting or important; we work with institutions, organisations and agencies on policy, strategy and events – and sometimes we come up with our own projects as well.

The ideas for this online event are coming together really nicely, and I’ll be able to talk more about how that’s shaping up as we get closer to the time (and especially after a pivotal meeting we’re having next week). Suffice to say that it will be held in several countries simultaneously, it will involve a high degree of online engagement, it’ll be archived and it will explore some really clever ways of presenting and curating information of this sort.

Very excited about it as a project – but I’m always just happy to sit and talk with Steve about music, the internet and other fun stuff over a cuppa and some chocolate, so that was lovely too.