Readings:

Week 3: Music 2.0

A View from the Trenches of Music 2.0

This reading explores the changes in the music industry regarding the relationship between artists and their fans. The reading explores the interruption between musicians and their fans through intermediaries, which force artists to communicate through their management companies and record labels. Because of the emergence of technology, most notably being the development of the Internet, new relationship are being formed which see artists communicating to their fans directly through online.Online distribution is becoming more potential challenges the idea that disintermediation and reconfigured relationships are possible. This idea can be encapsulated as what ‘Music 2.0

The paper draws on the emerging research that describes media production and distribution as ‘de-institutionalized activity’, stating that because of this new technology that is allowing musicians to engage with their audience or fans directly, without the interruption of these intermediaries. Musicians are connecting through social networking sites particularly and using the internet generally as a means of distribution, publication and communication, and with the common understanding that ‘times are changing’ there is an extensive feeling that major record labels are becoming redundant.While major labels are able to offer widespread publicity, they can only offer communication from bands to fans through intermediaries such as radio and recording companies, the modern technology can offer musicians to take a hands on approach to communication online and literally have contact with fans directly through websites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, while they can distribute their music through sites like bandcamp and soundcloud.

The idea of Web 2.0 has been used to describe everything from programming tools like Google page ranks to popular websites that rely on tagging and recommendation like Flickr, Tumblr, etc.If the Web 2.0 meme can be simply summarized, it might be seen in the title of Kevin Kelly’s 2005 article in Wired magazine, “We are the Web.” In that piece, Kelly identifies a key theme in the Web 2.0 address—the idea that “the producers are the audience, the act of making is the act of watching, and every link is both a point of departure and destination”

The paper states that music is at the centre of the web 2.0 frenzy, and that the new technology has allowed for a number of seismic shifts. The first being the increased accessibility and a consumer expectation of on-demand digital delivery of the entire catalogue of musical offerings, legitimately or otherwise. Despite legal distribution mechanisms such as iTunes, the more contentious and illegal sharing networks such as Soulseek and BitTorrent prove a 24/7 access to a collection of files that far exceed the digital offerings of the major labels.

The second seismic shift is what has been called ‘participatory culture’, where there has been a flattening of what was once a distinct divide between creator and audience. In the case of music, this flattening as two components – as well as musicians discovering new ways to engage with their fans, the fans themselves are becoming fast contributors to the musical production. This process encourages disintermediation – being the direct connection between musician and audience without interference of labels and distributors.

The main consequence of this disintermediation is the threat that making money from the music is now not the only feasible option.  The promise of music 2.0 then, is nothing less than a total reinvention of how musicians create, distribute, and generate money from music.The reading explores the 20th century traditional model of the recording industry in which record labels identified and marketed artists, providing financial recourses to create, record and distribute their music. This was not only beneficial for musicians, but for labels and companies who were able to establish themselves in a self-sustaining and lucrative business model in the industry.

Today that industry is apparently in crisis – as cd sales fall and a view from the top seems bleak. “Record sales as we know them are in long-term decline” according to Keith Jopling, the director of market research for the independent federation of the phonographic industry.Nielson soundscan reports that north American cd sales dropped by 19% in 2007 while the recording industry association of America’s 2006 end of year report pointed to a drop of 12.8% in the number of units sold through retail outlets.

Of course, the recording industry is still huge. Even the harshest of critics admit that the multi billion dollar a year industry is not going to disappear overnight. It uses examples such as U2 and Madonna and the fact that their global success is unlikely to be replicated without marketing expertise of the four major record companies. At least not yet. The music industry is more than just a recording industry and includes a far broader range of businesses such as live performance, publishing, licensing, and merchandising. These growing areas are something that the record labels acknowledge with moves to capitalize on for increased revenue streams.

However, music 2.0 goes beyond new distribution mechanisms for traditional industry stakeholders. It describes and predicts a new media environment in which musicians are empowered to create and distribute with unprecedented ease. In short, music 2.0 (in this case musicians and audience) does not need the same level of technical prowess to take advantage of the potential of the Internet.At the production level, affordable hardware and software mean that the importance the labels once had in the production sphere is fading as many musicians no longer require the production assistance: music production packages such as ProTools and Ableton Live deliver the same professional end product and are within financial reach of the amateur. Conversely, the ‘bedroom studio’ is no longer solely the domain of a struggling musician.For many years, some artists have regarded record labels as an unloved necessity. Courtney love recalls Toni Braxton filing for bankruptcy despite selling $188 million. Mick Hucknell – at first glance an unlikely pioneer in this area – started simplyred.com in 1994 following his split from Warner Music because he “got sick of them taking all the money”.

For some musicians, music 2.0 hold tremendous appeal; with their existing fan base, it suggests that the traditional distribution infrastructure is not necessary. Young people, who do not know a life without Internet, have free and easy access to create social networking sites such as MySpace and soundcloud that can distribute their products to an audience for free. According to the reading, the poster children for myspace musicians are the Arctic Monkeys. In late 2005 their single ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ hit number 1 in the UK largely, it is said, on the back of a myspace presence. Interestingly, fans set up their myspace page.

In reading also explores the extreme version of music 2.0 which suggests a world without major record labels, on in which individual musicians are able to independently build a fan base and distribute their music using new digital distribution tools.  Musicians who choose to make their music independently without the assistant of labels is not uncommon. Certainly independent labels can represent a financially fairer arrangement than majors. One interviewee reported he received “the same return on his independent release by selling one tenth of what was required in a big label deal”.While selling music online has been problematic, musicians have embraced the publicity and networking potential of the Internet. The use of websites varied depending on the available resources. The more technically minded had implemented online stores and were selling their entire catalogs via the web. Less sophisticated users simply used the site as a source of band related information.

In conclusion, music 2.0 allows musicians to connect directly to their audience and deal with them from a position currently occupied by recording labels. Arguably there is no longer any disadvantage of being independent. While production, distribution and marketing are more accessible than ever, the continuing issue is how to monetize creativity at a time when the value of recorded music is at an all time low.Despite the recording contract has been long been the ultimate destination for musicians believing that fame, success and wealth are automatically derived from signing with a major label. The reality, however is there is enough technology for a musician to create their independent music career themselves, whether it be as a foundation starting point or for the long run.

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Week 4: Emos

Finding the meaning of emo in youths’ online social networking: A qualitative study of contemporary Italian emo –

Who would’ve thought emos originated from Italy? I sure didn’t. Week four’s reading explores the emo youth and the two contrasting types – the Emo independents and the mainstreams.

The ‘mainstream’ emos are the stereotypical image one would think of when the word emo comes to mind. They are described as try hards or sheep and often use this image to hide behind their true identity. As music is a big part of this scene, the mainstream emos generally know and are fans are the music that supports the image but the context and reason behind the image is a mystery, and a majority of them don’t have a clue about the reasons behind it.

Rather than be a following group, the independent emos are categorized into a section of popular culture just like hipsters, and the infuriating term that is ‘indie’. They too are trying to be independent from a ‘sell-out’ lifestyle – having an alternative image and not listening to mainstream music.

The article explores Hebdige’s book on emos and explains how this group chooses to wear black and hide from society, and their often involvement in practicing self-harm.

Growing up, the term ’emo’ was widely used in high school to describe the people with heavy eye make-up, black clothes, and often studded/leather jewelry and covered in body piercings. When they first came on to the scene in my community, they were widely confused for goths and/or punks, and were quick to establish themselves as a complete different scene. As I got older they seemed to disappear a bit, the former emos turned into girly girls and nice dressing young men. I think this transition was influenced by the mocking and teasing a lot of emos endured during their apparent ‘identity crisis’, which made youths hesitate to transition to the darker side, and the true meaning of emo lost all its value.

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Week 5: Street Press

Brisbane and Melbourne Street Press

This reading discusses Brisbane’s street press, particularly ‘Scene’ magazine, which focuses on Dance/Electro music and the DJ scene, ‘Rave Magazine’, which focuses more on rock, and then ‘Time Off’ which is more of an overall street press. All three of these music magazines are printed weekly in Brisbane.

Unless you live under a rock or never walk the streets of Melbourne, we are familiar with our own street press down here. Those piles of Beat and InPress at every corner or at the entrance of cafes, record stores, clothing stores, live venues and pubs – we see them everywhere.

I personally think they are the best source in Melbourne and Victoria to see news on upcoming tours, gigs, album reviews, the works. It isn’t very mainstream so all those indie heads can avoid the pop music and skip straight to wherever Tame Impala is playing next. But in all honesty I do use it every week, it’s a great, cheap and easy heads up for whatever is in store on Melbourne’s music scene.

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Week 6 – Swedish Fan Labour

International fan labour in Swedish music

Street teams have been around for ages now, and every band loves it when they can get a group of dedicated fans to do their work for them. This reading explores fan labour and how they are helping out artists with promotion in online social media networks. I see this happening a lot on Facebook band pages, but  Twitter is also a huge perpetrator. An example of this is Scooter Braun taking on Carly Rae Jepson (who is responsible for that ridiculously catchy tune ‘Call Me Maybe’) for management. Braun is the man behind making Justin Bieber so incredibly famous. On the same day as Jepson’s release of her album Curiosity, Justin Bieber publicly announced that Jepson had been signed to School Boy Records, the label run by Braun. After this announcement on New Music Live, Bieber tweeted the news and added ‘follow her’ at the end of his tweet. Since then she gained an extra 3 million followers thanks to Bieber’s loyal robots (or Beliebers, as they prefer to be called). Now she’s on tour with him and an international success.

In the case of Sweden, artists over there have persuaded fans to promote their content through Facebook ‘sharing’, tweeting and blogging. The networking has spread internationally and has seen artists recognised in the USA, and also been given the opportunity to support international headliners as they tour across Europe.

As it’s been discussed before, social networking is quite literally the best and cheapest way to promote material. Since taking on the managerial role of Velma Grove recently, our biggest way to interact with followers is through social networking. One time I quite literally made a status explaining that I’d taken on the role and for friends to ‘like’ the page and have a listen to the music. After a week more than 120 of my Facebook friends ‘like’ the band page.

What these loyal Swedish fans are doing is great, and they are being rewarded by seeing their favourite artists be recognised and be asked to play on tours.

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Week 8: Mash-Ups

Recycling ideas

Mash ups are when two songs or samples are taken and metaphorically mashed together and remixed to create a brand new track. Often two contrasting genres can get the best results but it isn’t uncommon for two of similarity to be put together.
More often than not an artists will mash up 2 songs that are well known and already out there so there’s a feeling of familiarity with the new listeners.

Technology plays a huge role because all the remixing is done by taking the stems of each track and editing in workstations, which would prove pretty impossible without a a computer.

I’ve never really been in to them as a listener but there’s a been a few over the years I haven’t been able to escape because they’ve reached massive popularity. One I always remember from years ago were Paramore’s CrushCrushCrush and Link Park’s Faint, and Britney Spears/Gwen Stefani – Toxic-Tick.

In this digital world we now live in it has become more accessible for anyone to access stems of songs and perform their own remix and mash up, you don’t necessarily have to buy it or be a renowned DJ.

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Week 9: Swedish Fandom

The New Shape of online community: The example of Swedish independent music fandom –

Sweden is rapidly becoming more and more active in social media networking. This week’s reading explored some of Sweden’s biggest online blogs/sites, which consisted of:

Parasol Label Group
SwedesPlease
Absolut Noise
Hello! Surprise!

It’s a Trap!
‘Fandoms’ have been created by these sites which can be created and later managed easily online.

Aside from Sweden, a notable group is Lady Gaga’s loyal and dedicated fandom of ‘little monsters’. The little monsters are what she refers her biggest and most precious fans as – these are the ones who, rather than just have her music, are there for her to support, stand up for, believe in and all the other necessities needed. Artists who have jumped onto this wandwagon usually are in pop music and are very well know  internationally and have achieved huge success. The name of the fans usually derives from a name or song track by the artist. Justin Bieber has his ‘Beliebers’ after his name crossed with ‘believers’, Jessie J has her ‘Heartbeats’ because of certain lyrics in her song and the finishing of her ‘Heartbeat’ tour.

Sweden is definitely making its way up with online music promotion and is well ahead of Australia and other western countries.

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Homework Tasks:

Week 1: Establish a blog!

Week 2: Add useful blog resources into my RSS feed: I included deafambitions.tv and AdamNotEve.net into my RSS feed.

Week 3: Write up 2 brief posts introducing my blog (can be found in the About section on my menu) and subscribe to classmate’s blogs. I added Chloe Turner, Leon Wan and Bridgette Le into my RSS feed.

Week 4:(see below)

Three Australian music industry blogs.

1. Deaf Ambitions: My good friend Erin Felton is a large contributor over there, their unique interviewing style is really great. It’s different in that it really connects with the band on a friendly level, and he always seems to give the impression that whoever he is interviewing are old friends and are generally enjoying themselves.

2. MILHOWSE – The creation of Jack Den Ouden. I might be a bit biased as he’s a friend but his music is generally outstanding. So artistic and creative. His blog not only depicts his thoughts and musical process but the most random posts that keep followers entertained humorously as well as musically.

3. Adam Not Eve A brilliant blog run by journalist and photographer Aleks Kostadinoski. His artistic photos are what captures most of his following, he’s a down to Earth professional party animal with quick wit and a really approachable personality. He’s doing great things with local acts and promotes them hugely.

Social Networking:

The main Social Networking I use at the moment is Facebook. It has been the predominant tool in connecting me with family, friends and bands for the past 3-4 years. I was one of those early birds when it came to moving on from MySpace and creating a Facebook account, which I’ve had (according to the new ‘timeline’) since 2007. It seemed a lot different to MySpace but I quickly got the hang of it and as time progressed so did everyone else with access to the internet.

Since late 2009 I found myself captured by the Twitter world, which I still use today. Twitter was my secret outlet for a long time as no one I was friends with on Facebook actually had one. It was a great way for my inner celebrity-stalker to come out and play, I was following my favourite artists, bands and actors right from the beginning. It was actually really interesting to witness Boy And Bear’s twitter journey, whom I’d been following from the early stages. I’d started following them after seeing them support Laura Marling at a show at the start of 2010, I’d never heard of them but soon was quick to start getting involved. I witnessed them go from being a regular part of triple j unearthed to actually being played on the radio, to supporting Mumford And Sons on their national Australian tour and then Laura Marling on her UK tour, only to come home and play Falls and Pyramid Rock Festivals, Big Day Out and then begin their debut national tour in 2011/12.

I have very little to nothing to do with MySpace anymore, as the layout has completely change and I have basically forgotten how to even use it. I actually went on there not long ago to have a laugh at photos, bios and comments between me and my ridiculous amount of ‘friends’.

A great thing about these main 3 social networking sites is that they are free. It is the number 1 marketing and promoting advantage that unsigned bands have against the big record labels.

Week 5: Library visit

The library at RMIT wasn’t very accommodating for me, so instead I searched for an online source that was relevant to my own blog. I found another website called www.unsigned.com which is more or less a search engine for a great deal of unsigned acts around the World. It allows you to choose a location, type the name/genre/song track etc of a band and it provides links of information regarding the band. A great source for finding local acts that fit you preferences.

Week 6 & 7 combined: Music Synchronization and Music in Advertising

Steve Jobs boosting the careers of unknown indie, pop and rock artists: 

Advertisements that explore the use of music synchronisation are the Apple TV spot ads. Sometimes barely reaching 30 seconds long, Steve Jobs was able to help launch the careers of unknown indie, pop and rock artists through Apple’s quite literally ‘trendsetting’ advertisements of the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Macbook Air.

‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ by Australian rock band Jet was a song that I always had associated with the iPod ad, wherever I was when it either came on the radio or the television, I immediately was reminded of those silhouette dancers with the colourful backgrounds rocking out to ‘1,2,3 take my hand and come with me…’

Another Apple Inc. demonstration of music synchronisation that I was familiar with was the first Macbook Air advertising campaign, which incorporated French/Israeli indie musician Yael Naim and her catchy song ‘New Soul’. I was actually in France at the time of the release of the Macbook Air and it surprised me, even back then, how much the song was being commercialised within France. Not until I got back to Australia in July 2008 did I realise the international success of not only the Macbook Air itself but Yael Naim’s catchy upbeat song –  it had reached radio stations in Australia and I didn’t seem capable of escaping it. Another brilliant marketing scheme by Apple Inc.

Week 8:

– Roland Barthe’s notion of ‘Death of The Author’

in this essay, Barthe, who is a French philosopher, literary theorist, critic and semiotician, believes that there is no distinct link between an artist and their piece of music. He argues that the author’s political views, historical context, religion, ethnicity, psychology, or other biographical or personal attributes have no connection to the work they have made and that as artists we don’t need these ideas/values to separate the meaning from our work.

I agree with this argument to an extent. Not all artists express themselves personally through their work. In music, especially electro/dance music, DJ’s and writers will remix songs purely for fun and to create a track that will get people in the mood. Other artists, especially songwriters usually express themselves through song whether it be current or past emotions etc that give a distinct emotional connection rather than beats with no lyrics or passion.

– Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Work of the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’

German Jewish literary critic, philosopher, social critic, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist Walter Benjamin explains his beliefs on how modern day art (film, music,t, photography etc) has changed dramatically since that of art in the past. He explains the influence technology has had on art and how it can make a piece of art have absolutely no connection to whatever the audience think the artists’ intentions were. In modern music, this can be expressed by DJ’s who remix older songs with strong and passionate lyrical content, put a beat over it and make it a dance track in which the lyrics are more or less ignored and despite it being once a sad, emotional song, is now an upbeat ‘get in the mood’ track for a good time.

Week 9: Music Scenes, Online Space and Place:

I was heavily involved and interested in the Brit Indie Pop scene that escalated from around 2006 – 2010. When I think of this particular genre I think of artists such as Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Amy Winehouse, Florence & The Machine and Adele, who all emerged from the same scene around the same time (give or take a few years). From bubbly, up-beat funky tunes from Lily Allen and Kate Nash to heavier, more soulful pop from Amy Winehouse and Adele – they all had one thing in common: That distinct London accent that could be heard in all of their songs. This strong accent almost made them an exclusive genre, and could be easily recognized by listeners as pop singer/songwriters from London. And of course, one of my favourites – the indie/rock bands from northern England that all sing with that distinct Northern accent. Examples of this are bands like The Cribs, Arctic Monkeys, The Last Shadow Puppets etc. The most obvious and internationally known examples of music styles with particular places would include r’n’b/hip hop coming from African-Americans, Bollywood coming from India, Latino music coming from South America etc.

I still think place and locality is relevant, despite locality being extremely important in the music industry with bands (having that local and loyal following) and also depicts a kind of global image for the origin of the band. Think the BritPop scene – girls with attitude in floral dresses. The Northern England scene – the bands with scruffy hair and coats, posing in the cold streets of their English towns.

Week 10:

a) www.buttonbeats.com/ seemed pretty good. It offers a range of instrumentals including keys/piano, guitar, drum racks, synths and mixers, all depending on what genre of music you feel like making. It is easy to use and offers easy to read basic instructions, as well as links to tutorials, videos and other user’s tips and advice.

b)Since the rapid growth in digital download over the past 5 years, I would say in the next 5 years that it will be the source of the majority of music obtained worldwide. iTunes will continue to do well but I can see sites like bandcamp becoming increasingly popular, especially with unsigned bands/artists. It is already becoming huge and by 5 years I can see it being the core of free download for customers.

I think vinyl production in indie artists will also grow as it’s becoming trendy again, and indie these days is illegal to not follow the trend. Vinyl distribution may increase but I don’t necessarily think it will become a major source of music purchasing again, rather a collectors item for the loyal fans and hipsters with record players. Most of my favourite artists have released their albums on vinyl, the latest one I purchased was Laura Marling’s 3rd album ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’. She is my favourite artists and I have her previous 2 albums on vinyl, and for me it seems more of a collectors item, as I rarely even listen to it on record. All the music I listen to these days is digital download or playing through iTunes, I haven’t bought a CD in a while but if I do it’s imported straight into my iTunes to playback on my iPod.

In regards to ownership I don’t think the majority of music purchasers are going to mind whether they technically ‘own’ the track or not, they will be happy if they just have it to listen to.

 

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