Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

A week in the life of Music 3.0

In some ways, the notion behind Music 3.0 began to take shape by complete accident in a conference room in Austin, Texas a few months ago. SXSW Interactive is home to hundreds of panels, conversations and workshops. You can spend …

Mon, May 28, 2012, 11:40


In some ways, the notion behind Music 3.0 began to take shape by complete accident in a conference room in Austin, Texas a few months ago. SXSW Interactive is home to hundreds of panels, conversations and workshops. You can spend your time simply following the topics and themes which interest you or you can head once or twice to something completely different to see if it made any sense. You could call the latter approach disrupting your thinking.

All of which explains why I found myself in a room for the Making Stories: Libraries and Community Publishing discussion. That’s where I come across a great line about the appeal of events like SXSW and the need to pay attention to other sectors. Asked about why librarians are hanging out at SXSW, Amy Buckland from McGill University Library said it was better for librarians like her to attend SXSW rather than at a convention where the audience consisted solely of other librarians. Why preach to the converted when you can be part of a bigger, deeper, wider conversation with peers from other areas?

Buckland’s comments came to mind a few times last week as Music 3.0, a collaboration between First Music Contact and myself with huge help from Finian Murphy, got into full swing in The Lab. Over the course of four nights, two dozen speakers from non-music sectors told their stories to Music 3.0 participants. You’ll find a full list of speakers here, ranging from, for example, Dublin City architect Ali Grehan and Offset organiser Richard Seabrooke to CoderDojo’s James Whelton, Emerald Valley’s Nichola Bates and an amazing presentation for Michael Murphy from Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology.

These are people who are doing really fascinating work in other areas whose stories, we felt, could chime with the participants in many ways. For all the myths and hyperbole about mavericks and rock’n'roll, the music business remains a bastion for conservatism when it comes to moving things forward and taking advantage of new possibilities. But many of the speakers have come up with instances of similar insitutional inertia in their careers and they showed how they sidestepped, shimmied or simply bulldozed their way through. The message was simple: it can be done. Or, in the words of Nichola Bates on the very first night setting a template for the week, “just fucking do it”. From accidental entrepreneurs to start-ups and back again, JFDI became a bit of a mantra.

But the speakers were just one side of the equation. Watching the participants – who really deserve all the credit for us because they took a flyer on something new and untested and turned up every evening for more – interact with oneanother, swap tales and work out kinks in ideas as the week went by was quite fascinating. Our aim was to get people talking and thinking and it looks to me like we did that.

The speakers provided the inspiration part of the week – there was also perspiration and not just because it was the warmest week of 2012 so far. Music 3.0 ended with an unconventional Hack Day, with pitch sessions and a workshop to show what it takes to get an idea from being just an idea to becoming an actual reality and a business. Ideas take time, mind-muscle and thought-crunching to come to fruition, as speaker after speaker demonstrated over the week. Expect to hear more about the ideas which were discussed at Music 3.0 in the weeks to come.

Indeed, one of the most striking things about Music 3.0 was the amount of interest about what was going on in the room from those outside the room. Every day saw another round of emails and phone calls from people in other sectors and areas who were curious about what we were doing and how it was going.

As the week progressed and we got a handle on what was actually happening, it became clear to us that there was something here which was much more than just an one-off. There will be nips and tucks to what it’s about – we said from the outset that Music 3.0 was a pilot so we naturally were going to find out more about what we were doing as the week went on – but the premise remains sound: listen and learn.

For me personally, it was an amazing week. To see a simple idea about the power of unvested interests come to bloom in ways which I never thought possible was a huge buzz. Every night, I left The Lab with my head spinning from what I’d heard and the possibilities which were becoming apparent. I’ve a ton of notes in my head, on paper and on screens which need to be collated but, right now, I’m just thrilled that Music 3.0 happened and a ton of great people came along for the trip. We’ll be back to this one again.