Golden Questions is a technique used by designers to invigorate and stimulate thinking on a certain topic. They are typically used in or near the beginning of a process. Furthermore Golden Questions help to explore the depths of a problem space and all the little details that might surround it.

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For my capstone (thesis) project in my masters program, I’m working within the problem space of Local Music in a Digital Age. In an effort to spur my thinking and uncover some of the deeper issues surrounding local music, I’ve come up with the following list of Golden Questions. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, Golden Questions as a technique, and my particular list of questions.

What does it mean for music to be local?
How far away is local?
Is Indy local for me?
Chicago?
Is local the next closest big city?
How far should I drive/walk to see local music?
Does this effect the environment?

What happens when a local band becomes popular?
Are Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s local still?

Does each city have only one local music scene?
what happens when a local music scene explodes?
What happens when local music moves elsewhere?
Where do local musicians move to?
Why do local musicians move around?

Does local music all sound alike?
Should all local music in one locale sound alike?
Does that hurt the local music scene?
What cities have a good local music scene?

How do outsiders see the scene?
How can I replicate good ‘scenes’ elsewhere?

Do people get tired of local music?

Is local music not within reach of most people?
Do people care that not many people listen to local music?
How much money do people spend on local music?

How much money does the government spend on local music?
Is it ok for the government to spend money promoting local music?
Who benefits from the government spending money on local music?
The musicians?
The community?
The town/city itself?
The government?
Artists?

What is the local music scene in Bloomington?

Does local music exclude people, especially when mostly in bars?
Does this exclude minors?
People who do not drink?
People who only go to the bars to drink?
If you go to a bar to drink and listen to the music, are you a supporter of local music?

Do cover bands count as local music?
What does count as local music?

Is local music mostly played in bars?

Do I care if local musicians make money?

Will my design make local musicians more money?

Is local music sustainable?
Do local musicians make their music available digitally?
If not, why?
If so, why?

Do people buy local music merchandise?
Do they only buy the music?
What about t-shirts? clothing, etc?
Is this a way to show your support?
What other ways can someone show their support of local music?

Why don’t I, a purveyor of music, listen to local music?

What if there is no good local music in your area?

What if there is no local music in your area at all?

How far does the definition of music go?

Is promoting local music promoting a particular local or community?

When audiences’ see the same people around do they get bored?

Are the local music audiences elitists?
Do ‘outsiders’ feel comfortable listening to local music with possible ‘elitists’ around?

Who promotes local music now?
Are the bands responsible for the local music scene or is someone else?
If bands are responsible, are they failing now?
What does it mean for a band to be a success in a local music scene?
How does a band judge it’s own success?
Do local musicians promote other local musicians?
Are non-local musicians involved at all?
Do major recording artists support local music?
If people see local music only as a first act to major recording artists, is this successful?

Should local music only be available locally?
What is the advantage to this?
What are the disadvantages?
Who is loosing out if local music is only available locally?
Will ‘hard core’ fans travel for local music only available in certain locales?
If this happens is the music still really local?
Do the people in the crowds also have to be local?
Does the venue have to be local?
Does the venue have to be locally owned?
Do the musicians need to be local?
All of them?
Or just a subset?

What does success for my capstone look like?
Will I build a product?
What does a product look like?
Will I get fellow students to attend local music shows?
Does that mean success?
How can I research the experience of local music?
Does iTunes really make local music obsolete?
Can I make iTunes obsolete?
Does local music deserve it’s own software?
Who would make such software?
How would it be profitable?
If I fill up shows every time a local musician plays is that success?

In order to make this a good capstone don’t I need to get heavily involved with local music?
How does one go about becoming a ‘scenester’?
Is there a bad image associated with being a local music supporter/scenester?