24 August 02004

The job I'm aiming for

It's time to come clean about the motivation behind the many articles on this site about how people learn about, and consume, music online. Yes, I am angling for work in this area. My interests are in a niche music-and-learning opportunity that I believe will emerge over the next few years.

Right now this is probably some way from being viable enough to pay anyone a serious salary. In the medium to long term, I feel my mix of experience makes me particularly well suited to being a part of a team that could deliver a full product/service, but I'd need collaborators — both individuals with complementary skills and organisations that might offer alliances and help develop a 'route to market'.

Background: Ingredients

The mixture of elements that creates the opening includes:

  • the BBC's Creative Archive, including music-related interviews and documentaries (selected links on this site: 1, 2);
  • 'martini media' — ubiquitous access to on-demand programmes (selected links on this site: 3, 4);
  • increasing interest in the learning potential of archive collections (selected links on this site: 5, 6, 7).

In each of these cases, the concept may not ever reach implementation in quite the way their evangelists advocate. But conversely the tide of history seems to be more with than against the broad trends that these elements illustrate.


The basic idea is to develop interactive services and programming that help music listeners develop their understanding of the artists they like and discover artists they don't yet know but might like.

You could see this as a multimedia 'magazine', except that it would have massive archive resources behind it to support extended exploration — over weeks or months — as well as 'bite-size' (ugh, I hate that term) browsing. Though the tone might not always be serious and 'worthy', you could do serious learning with this service.

It would draw on music-related elements of the BBC Creative Archive, as well as commercially licensed material where appropriate. With this base of resources behind the programming, a lot of effort will go into usability of the service, so that the range of paths through the material is enticing rather than intimidating. (Usability here involves matching how the service works to people's habits, rather than the latest user interface tricks per se.)

My Role

The areas where I would contribute professionally include:

  • managing research into listener habits to understand their needs from this service (selected links on this site: 8, 9);
  • learning design to achieve measurable learning outcomes (generic and music-specific);
  • interface design concept, taking account of emerging and future media devices (selected links on this site: 10, 11);
  • development and evaluation of programme/service prototypes and pilots (selected links on this site: 12, 2).

I might also draw on my e-learning project management experience with clients like learndirect and the TUC, my experience with e-learning British Standards and the National Centre for Popular Music, and my Board experience with creative/digital enterprises. But this article is more a job specification than an application, so you can read more about me elsewhere on this site.

How to deliver it

Other kinds of skills we'd need to develop and manage this service include, as a minimum:

  • music journalism and broadcast, including extended features and documentaries;
  • technical implementation, including metadata deployment, to manage access to the resources (though I'm assuming the service would use someone else's established infrastructure to reach its users;
  • business development to strike commercial deals with affiliates, combined with the temperament to deal with lawyers and rights issues.

Partnerships with production companies that make music documentaries and with music-related publishing would be helpful, among others.

Even assuming the BBC Creative Archive were to play the central role I've described here, it's too early to say where this concept and my role should be delivered within the BBC or outside it. There is a lot of water to flow under the bridge with the BBC Charter renewal and the implementation of the Archive before it becomes obvious which way to jump. On the one hand, the BBC is clearly pitching to move into learning in a bigger way (see their recent publication). On the other, the Graf Report is arguing that more BBC material should be produced by independent production companies. In many ways it matters less than it might whether production is inside or outside the BBC — particularly if the music-related elements of the Creative Archive are licensed on the Creative Commons model. This would allow free re-use of the elements for non-commercial purposes.

You could develop the service using either a project/consultancy team or by building a joint venture company: the choice would have implications for ownership of the service once it's up and running.


I'm going to continue doing my homework to research the viability of this idea. If you know people who might be interested in collaborating on development, please send me a message.

I'm not looking to do a quick bit of consultancy on the concept and then move on. If it works, I'd hope to make a living from developing, running and enhancing the service over the long term. So in the short term — say, two years — I'd be willing to invest a modest sum in cash or in kind, to get the service going, as long as there was an appropriate reward formula to compensate this risk.

Posted by David Jennings in section(s) E-learning, Human-Computer Interaction, Ideas and Essays, Music and Multimedia on 24 August 02004 | TrackBack

Dear David

I was just checking out your profile on Ecademy and it bought me to this site. Just wanted to wish you the Very Best in getting the job you are aiming for.

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Personal Manager/Promoter/Personal Agent of Therlow Snape - The Greatest Reggae Artist On The Planet.




Posted by: Rajesh Aggarwal on 26 January 02005 at 12:01 AM


If you are interested in the above I would suggest contacting Line Communications, who are based in London.


They might be worth a try and carryout projects for the BBC etc.

Posted by: Mark Pittaway on 2 February 02005 at 5:29 PM

I'm looking to do a runner job in the music industry adn was wondering if you could help me?

Posted by: Peter Settimba on 20 May 02005 at 11:07 AM

Peter, sorry, I don't have contacts in that area.

Posted by: David Jennings on 22 May 02005 at 11:10 PM

Hi David, I stumbled upon your site while researching a project I'm undertaking for the BBC. I realise some of the postings are now pretty dated, but I'm particularly interested in your ideas about the BBC archive and how it can be effectively utilised online, and your reaction to the recent charter renewal. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the BBC Archive's recent offerings of video content too – do you think the VJing clips worked? Or were they too content-specific?

Interestingly, the archive is, in a way, available for commercial purposes already – under the guise of BBC Worldwide, whose profits (as the consumer arm of the BBC) are invested directly back into the BBC and help to keep the licence fee down. All the best, TD

Posted by: T.D. on 24 February 02006 at 5:53 PM

Thanks, T.D. I made some comments about the Superstar VJ initiative in this posting (albeit mostly about the user interface rather than the content per se), and also referred to it in my Spectator article at the end of last year. I heard this week that there were 400 entries to the competition. If that's the case, then I think there is significant 'public value' (to use the terminology du jour) in raising the bar for media literacy and skills development — irrespective of the value of the content itself (which did appear to be of marginal value on its own).

You're right about some postings being dated. If I were writing this again now, the Creative Archive would play a much less central role. The scope to include significant music-related material seems to be diminishing as awareness of the commercial potential of documentary material is rising.

My own plans have evolved and my aim is now slightly different — I should post an update here sometime.

When you write "the archive is... available for commercial purposes already", how much of the archive is available. To pick an example at more or less random, are all 14 hours of The Story of Atlantic (radio documentary) available for re-use?

Posted by: David Jennings on 24 February 02006 at 7:18 PM
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