What's in store for the Youth Music Network?

  • by Anonymous (not verified)

    Thursday, 27 September, 2012 - 16:03

The Youth Music Network is fast approaching its first birthday. Unfortunately, websites cannot enjoy cake like us humans. Fortunately, websites love upgrades. Here's what we have in store...

Since November 2011, the small team at Youth Music who look after the Youth Music Network have been out on the road talking to people and using every bit of (free) software available to get an idea of what you want from the Youth Music Network.

So in the lead-up to the Network’s first birthday, I hereby present to you the ‘big five’ areas for development. Work is to commence shortly and we hope to begin testing in around five weeks.



1. You said you want MORE iNFORMATION ABOUT music projects in your area.

At the moment you can upload information about your project: however, the process is a little clunky and has not had the amount of take-up we'd hoped for. So we’ve decided to inject a little bit of adrenaline into the process. We will soon be uploading information about every single project Youth Music funds (that amounts to approximately 200 projects). Network members will then be able to ‘claim’ these projects and once verified by us, will be able to make further edits should they wish.

There will be improved linking from project profiles to organisation profiles and personal profiles so that you get to the right people at the other end. You will still be able to upload information about projects funded through other sources than Youth Music, and we certainly encourage this as it helps to create a more accurate map of music activity in the UK.


2. You said you want to engage in the things that matter to you

We are only twelve months in from launch, and in that short time we have been simply amazed by the amount of high quality content that has been added by Network members. The problem is that there is so much content, it can be difficult to filter this and get to the stuff you really care about.

We have been fortunate enough to come across a new piece of kit called Groups which will replace the Areas of Work section. Users will have the opportunity to create a group around any theme or topic of their choosing. For example you might want to set up a group based on a project you are undertaking. Perhaps you are particularly interested in progression routes for young people in the East Midlands. Within this group you can create blogs, upload events, add media. This content can be shared with group members only or you can make it public for all to see. You can make your groups open access, or perhaps you prefer it to be via application only.

We will also be providing a way for you to get notifications on specific content. If you are only interested in a particular author or region, then you will be able to get notifications on that area only.


3. You said that the amount of choice is sometimes confusing

Practice write-ups, blogs, events, jobs, media…There are a lot of ways in which you can make your mark on the Youth Music Network. But the amount of choice available to members can in fact be a little daunting (we apologise for being a little too eager!) and it's not clear what the various options do. We will be streamlining the ways you can add content to the Network. We'll keep it to the essential stuff and put clear guidance around the site where possible. We will also be improving our help section and guidance so that you can quickly get to grips with the Network if you are new member.


4. You said that you want to get more creative.

You said you want to be able to add media, files, pictures to your blog posts, events listing and other content. We say ‘yes’. Stay tuned.


5. You said you want to be recognised for your contribution

And why not? You’ve worked hard to create your blog. You’ve added comments here and there. But is anyone reading it? We will be looking at ways to signpost to popular and trending content on the site and recognising members who are going above and beyond to make the Network a real community.


The Youth Music Network needs you!

The priority areas above are still in the early stages. Even though we will begin work shortly, the difference between making improvements that are totally brilliant and helpful, or are a pain in the backside, comes down to you. We need your ideas and thoughts on the plan above. We need testers to play with new kit before it goes live and we are also looking for volunteers interested in helping new members settle in (all done online of course). 

So please add your comments below! Let us know what you think of our plan and please put yourself forward if you are keen to help out in any way, shape or form. 

91 reads


Darren Poyzer's picture

Personally I think a site with a UK-wide brief and dedicated reason for being is always going to take a little fine tuning, is not going to be everything to everyone, needs long term commitment and, in this instance, a consistent stream of professional knowledge and enthusiasm, from site users. If there's one area for me that requires a push it's the development of regional pages, so that users can take a little more 'ownership' and profile prestige via a local page. Having said that, the site is a great success and it's great to know you are still developing and taking in feedback.

Toby R.'s picture

Thanks for the feedback Darren. You are right in that its still early days for the Youth Music Network - we will certainly need to keep improving and fine-tuning as we go. The more Network users can feed through their comments and suggestions, the better for everyone in the end.

You made a very good suggestion around the need to filter content by region. We do plan to introduce regional filters in the Near You section as part of the next phase of development work. We hope it will become a lot easier to see keep tabs on what is going on in each region.

Rebeka Haigh's picture

I'm more than happy to be a tester for the new additions to the site...!

Sophie Appleby's picture

thanks Rebeka, that would be great! I'll make a note and I'll get in touch when we've got something we'd like you to try out.

steve@pluggedin.org.uk's picture

The site is a great resource for me, thanks for all your efforts!

Sorry if this is a little off topic but might there be an opportunity for the you to work with music retailers in order to promote online offers to your members? I'm sure that co-ordinating purchases could also bring about cost savings when sourcing equipment for YM funded projects too. Some people are a little shy about asking for discounts. If purchasing was done centrally and at the same time, you might be able save and redistribute an extra 5,10 or 15% of capital budget to good causes.

Sophie Appleby's picture

Hi Steve, sorry for the delay in replying! That's a really interesting idea. It overlaps with other suggestions we've had about the possibility of organisations sharing instruments, and people wanting to donate instruments to projects too, so we're having a look into all possibilities related to that. I'll keep you updated on developments.

We have had a couple of competitions with donations from retailers (Marshall Amps and Marbel Toys) and they were great, so if any retailers are reading this we're always open to offers! :) If anyone has any suggestions for potential details or offers, you can get in touch with me directly via my profile page.

Kate_MB's picture

This all looks good, thanks for taking all of our feedback into consideration. It will certainly help me when I can do more at the back end, so I can stop asking Toby for so much help when I post events and content!

I have noticed that when I get really really busy, I no longer have the time to blog on here the way I would like to. As a radical suggestion, could you consider that paid time for people to contribute high quality content could be built into funding applications to Youth Music? A certain number of hours could be allocated at a certain rate for the updates on projects on here, a little like project management costs are built in? I am sure many of the people who write content on here are in the same position as me, in that this is unpaid work (sitting writing this on a Saturday afternoon case in point!), and to write a good quality blog, takes quite some time. Whilst I am passionate about this network and want to do as much as I can, when I am really busy, I have to prioritise my paid work over my unpaid work. I cannot afford to spend hours and hours each week on unpaid work, if I did , my paid work would suffer and at the moment I wouldn't be able to get it all done!

This is an honest business reality I have to face as a fully self-employed business director. I am sure there will be others in the same situation who would love to contribute more on here, but simply do not have the time. Time is all I have!

You could suggest at the application stage, that a certain number of hours per month are allocated to contributing content on here, and make it one of the grant conditions that people contribute. This would guarantee that more content is generated by more people.

What to others think about this?


Toby R.'s picture

Thanks for posting your comment.

I can only hope that you being a busy is good thing - more income for your business and more young people playing music!

Your point around time and money is a good one and I wanted to share my own thoughts. (I look forward to seeing other people’s responses to your comments also). I can appreciate how in your situation, that when things get busy you may reach a point where there is a trade-off between meeting your contractual obligations and contributing your expertise for free on the Youth Music Network.

We created the Network because we saw a need to join up professionals in the sector and facilitate the sharing of ideas and knowledge. Our hope is that anyone with a vested interest in young people’s music making will see contributing to the Network as ultimately mutually beneficial and useful for them and their business in terms of developing and maintaining contacts, sharing and learning knowledge and promoting what they do. The financial pay-off might not be instantaneous, but we do know that for freelancers and organisations alike that exercising thought leadership can help increase the chances of getting a financial pay-off further down the line. The more you contribute, the more others benefit, the more awareness you raise about yourself, the more likely people will come to you when they need something done. In short, you get out what you put in. Additionally, Google likes it when you create links back to your own website - this will give a significant boost to your rankings in search engines.

There are plenty of ways to contribute to the Network – ranging from the small (posting an event, job vacancy or commenting on someone else's article) to the more involved (posting a blog). Hopefully there is something for everyone no matter what their situation.

In response to your idea about building contributions to the Network into Youth Music into funding applications, all applicants are required to demonstrate how they would go about sharing effective practice. This can occur in a variety of ways (we do not set limits here) but obviously, we encourage applicants to share their know-how via the Youth Music Network. So at the moment, it is possible to build this into funding bids (where this is an intent to create significant resources) however we are keen to ensure that people see the intrinsic value of contributing and being part of an online community of practice rather than solely doing it for a financial pay off.