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Final Thoughts…

By: Nouran

This has been an amazing experience, from the filming of the documentary, to coming up with ideas for the blog. The lectures were also great, and if it weren’t for the ideas that were brought up in class, I know Lauren and I would have had a hard time getting inspired for the blog. The editing in particular was a challenge with the program shutting down on us every 5 seconds. But enough love, let’s get down to what we really came out with.

The Internet has the potential to be the new public sphere where citizens can participate in their democracy because it isn’t controlled like other mainstream media. This of course isn’t what the corporations want because everybody has access to it and can post whatever they want. The corporations naturally want a share in having their say, and in controlling this new medium because it’s just another way for them to manufacture the public’s taste to the corporate culture’s liking. A huge part of the corporate culture is the encouragement of the consumer lifestyle, and a lot of what we consume is the media and the gadgets related to them, and the electronic gadgets have distracted us from the world around us. In many ways the Internet has emerged as a counter force to the corporate culture and its attempt to control every aspect of our lives, but that doesn’t make it exempt from handing over power to companies like Google and Apple. Sometimes the Internet even threatens to take over people’s jobs with all the fancy software that can replace even journalists.

Now when it comes to music, the main issue is copyright and how illegal downloads are taking away from the profits of the artists. There have been many solutions, from tightening copyright laws, making older music cheaper than newer music, to changing the entire software and making the music itself undownloadable. Music and artists have changed due to the Internet, making both of them accessible. Nevertheless, the Internet has made us listen to more music with its download options – legal or not – YouTube, and online radios. It has also made us change our listening habits. Just take a ride on the bus, and I’ll guarantee that the majority, young and old, have their earphones plugged in. Thanks to the Internet, we no longer have the space barriers that prevented us from sharing art with people all over the world.

Making Money Online

By: Nouran

The Times and Sunday Times websites are now worth £1 a day, or £2 a week should anyone choose to consult those papers online. Who made that decision? Why, none other than Rupert Murdoch, the owner. This is but a sign of corporations trying to make money off the Internet. These aren’t the first papers to force Internet users to pay for their websites; the Financial Times allows the consultation of 10 articles for free per month. The Wall Street Journal’s website makes money from visitors too.

But this isn’t the point. The point is that we have to pay for our information. I understand the issues with online music and how people will abuse its availability, but news? Who would want to steal that? Surely the whole point of publishing news online is so that people can access it easily. The more visitors a newspapers’ website gets, that means that more people choose to get their information from them. Just because it happens to be in the digital form instead of the printed one, that’s no excuse to charge people for using their site. I for one prefer getting a newsletter straight to my inbox rather than have to go buy a paper, but if I’m going to have to pay for a quick look at the website, then I’d rather go pay the full price of a newspaper and have all the articles.

A Reflection

By: Lauren

It’s that time: this project is coming up to its final stages, of which this is one. Many blogs have been written, and the documentary is done and posted. It has been a challenging, oftentimes outright difficult, but very rewarding experience.

I’ll start at the beginning.

When I began contributing to this blog, I had a lot of ideas about music that I wanted to communicate, and in conjunction with classes, this blog has helped me cut down that backlog of topics.

I was excited to do the film project. That’s a total understatement, actually. This was huge: finally I could put my editing software to good use and start building a real film portfolio. This project was the kickstarter -the motivation I needed to push myself to get familiar with making videos, and even to make my own YouTube channel.

Choosing a subject for our documentary was easy, but figuring out exactly how to realize it took several weeks. We worked around the concept of practicing what we preach -we were going to talk about putting music on the internet, so why not actually go out and put music on the internet? And while we had the musicians -all of whom are part of the generation that is affecting these changes to the music industry, with some even directly taking part in YouTube/MySpace promotion of their art -but while we had them, we figured why not ask their opinion?

When it came time to draft the script, we thought of four central questions: First, and foremost: How has the internet changed the music industry? 2) Who are your favourite internet-based artists and how do they keep their art alive? 3) How has the internet changed the artist? And 4): What is the future of record labels and music retailers? I made sure these questions were sent to everyone participating a few days in advance, so that they could all think about which ones they would like to answer and how.

While we’re on the subject of these questions, I must say that I found the answers from all the participants to be very inspirational. Their perspectives helped me come up with more ideas for the blog, and they served as great prompts for further research on the subject for our academic information, which we added to the footage in the form of title cards.

The filming process in and of itself was an amazing experience. We had our pick of locations because it was terribly cold out and no one seemed to be quite as daring as we were. I know that personally, I wanted the film to be outside, to show off the city in its splendour and play up the fact that as buskers on film, our audience would become more than simply those who walked by. All of us really enjoyed the experience.

Editing the footage together, however, was much more difficult than I thought. Nouran and I encountered so many software glitches that this project might have been finished two weeks before now, had we not spent so much time having to close and re-open the program. But all that was an education, and I will be able to better and more efficiently deal with the next project.

The final cherry on the top of the sundae of Murphy’s Law that was the editing process was uploading the video to YouTube and -IRONY OF IRONIES -getting the entire audio track deleted because our soundtrack contained a song by Green Day, and Warner Music Group found out and were not happy. We heard so much about digital copyright law in class, and in the final hours of this midterm, we got to see it in practice. Unfortunately, the YouTube -uploaded version of the documentary does not have end credits to match its opening credits, but at least the actual documentary was not compromised.

Overall, this has been an amazing experience, and I hope you enjoy the final product.

By: Lauren and Nouran

Bucholtz, M. (2002). “Youth and Cultural Practice.” Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, pp.525-52.

“While youths’ relationships to popular media are often associated with unattainable images and capitalist urgings toward comsumption, media representations may also be a source of knowledge and agency . . . In face, commodification is not a barrier to the perception of authentic cultural practice . . . In any case, the relationship between resistance, authenticity, and cultural appropriation can be extremely complex.” (542)

The key part to this quote is the “source of knowledge and agency.” Bands that have a counter culture message or aesthetic don’t have to dilute it for mainstream media. Videos can be uploaded and music can be played in its raw form, seeking only the audience that would appreciate it. Local Ottawa bands like Saucy Jack, Chasing Curiosity, and Breaking Sundown can just play music the way they want to, and with the Internet, gain a following. More mainstream bands that would be in this vein are Alexisonfire, Amanda Palmer, and Imogen Heap.

Jones, S. (2000). “Music and the Internet.” Popular Music, 19:2, pp.217-229.

“The music listening habits of many white-collar workers, students and others who use personal computers on a daily basis have undergone significant change . . . The connection of the personal computer to the Internet also brings potential for connection to a wide variety of music, broadening the scope of listening possibilities, but also potentially overwhelming the listener with choice.” (218)

Because computers are so ubiquitous, sharing music is a lot easier. We can take our own music files from our own music collections and send them to our friends with a click of a button, which is very problematic for those trying to make money. This hasn’t really changed from the days of taping off the radio, it’s just more rapid.

“The issue that has been uppermost on the music industry’s agenda in regard to music distribution and new technologies has been the disintermediation and concomitant disruption of routinised business practices and processes that have accreted over nearly a century . . . It is important to keep in mind that the capitalisation and market power of major labels may significantly affect the degree of disintermediation and it consequences as well as the development of online media and tools themselves.” (219).

The music industry is struggling to maintain its power because of all the different ways people can participate in what their selling, and try to make it their own. The more self produced artists there are on the Internet, the less business they get, unless they find a way to capitalise off of those artists’ success in a way that would please the artists.

“One performer noted that jamming online ‘gives you and advantage over your own prejudices . . .you won’t know if you’re playing with someone who’s eleven years old or severely disabled, so it won’t affect the music you make with one another. It’s about music quarantined from image bias.” (220)

This one really speaks for itself. Composing software with Internet capabilities is bringing the world closer musically.

“In addition to making music available, information about it must be available, too.” (220)

“In its recent reports, Jupiter [Communications] has ‘urged record labels to embrace the online world as a marketing tool, as a means of combating piracy, as a way to earn more revenue by cutting out retailers, and as a less expensive distribution model(Broersma 1998)” (222)

These last two quotes speak to the growing importance of the Internet as a marketing tool. Musicians can generate more publicity faster and in a much easier way. In this way they can generate more work, and hence more revenue.

Malecki, E. J. (2002). “The Economic Geography of the Internet’s Infrastructure.” Economic Geography, 78:4, pp.399-424.

“To a large degree, the evolving infrastructure of the Internet is reinforcing old patters of agglomeration: the world cities are alive and well. At the same time, new technologies cause new “disturbances” that can result in the emergence of new clusters –perhaps particularly evident in the weightless context of an Internet world in which the cost of transport does not matter (Quah 2000)” (419)

Just like there’s more bandwidth available in big cities, the record label supported artists will always have more presence in the everyday media than most YouTube stars. While the Internet favors publicity for the indie musicians, the big artists who already have the support and publicity will find that their music is more integrated in different cultures and media due to its availability.

McPherson, T. (2009). “Introduction: Media Studies and the Digital Humanities.” Cinema Journal, 48:2, pp.119-123.

“The practices facilitated via YouTube instigate a shift in how consumers understand their relationship to media products and also encourage a networked, public mode of visual expression.” (123)

Interactiveness. The YouTube star isn’t a star in the same sense as the past. The YouTube star is accessible, and there is a direct or semi direct mode of communication from fans to artists. It’s a two-way relationship, fans can respond to artists’ videos and artists can respond to fans’ videos.

Stokes, M. (2004). “Music and the Global Order.” Annual Review of Anthropology, 33, pp.47-72.

The major recording corporations no longer are considered the only site of agency in the global circulation of musical style. A number of analyses stress the importance of state, civic and other institutional sponsors of world music scenes, radio and television broadcasting, small independent record labels, academic ethnomusicology programs, civic arts exchanges and concert-promoting organizations” (50)

The big labels aren’t playing as big of a role as before because smaller organisations can use the Internet to promote their services, their causes, and their art.

“The bottom-up perspective has been broadened theoretically. The production of locality and place is no longer considered the inevitable and benign result of small-scale, face-to-face interaction, but instead a project in which many actors have an interest and a stake.” (50)

The artists are starting to control production more than the production companies themselves. They get to leave their own mark on their work, and shape it exactly the way they want it with few corporate concerns.

“The term world music was heavily promoted by the music press in the United Kingdom, and later in the United States, and eventually stuck. Billboard began a world music chard and a Grammy category for world music was devised in 1991 (Taylor 1997) . . . The expression world music also incorporated the work of rock musicians such as Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, and David Byrne, and later, Sting, Bjork, and others who incorporate non-Western sounds through multitracking, sampling, and live performance.” (p. 50)

This is evidence of new music coming from the Internet age. World music showed us different types of music from all over the world, which are now being integrated into all types of music. This globalisation of music is slowly becoming the mainstream.

By: Nouran

When the telegraph first appeared, it was the technological revolution of the era. Newspapers spouted left, right, and center because all they needed was a telegraph and they could get the latest news about anything, anywhere which is the decentralization aspect of the telegraph. Newspapers could actually publish stories about things outside their local areas. Innis observed; however, that it centralized knowledge in the hands of media conglomerates. Governments took advantage of that and controlled the ownership of the telegraph, and news agencies divided the world into exclusive zones, thus dictating when access to information could be obtained, and at what price.

The Internet obviously is a decentralization agent because nobody owns it, and people get to say and do whatever they want online. What a previous lecture exposed though, was that in fact, there are online monopolies. Google controls most of the searches and ads online since there is hardly anybody who uses Yahoo, and Apple owns 70% of the online music industry. So we really haven’t outsmarted the corporate culture yet because the rich are getting just getting wealthier. If we download music, then we’re really just preventing money from falling into the wrong hands.

By: Nouran

Social websites have been criticised for being invading people’s privacy and because users run the risk of having their personal information stolen. In France; however, Twitter in particular is proving to be problematic in a different way. According to an article published in Le Figaro, many of the candidates for the 2010 regional elections have Twitter accounts and use them frequently in as they campaign. This has led to some predicting that the results of the elections will be announced on Twitter before the 8 o’clock national news makes the official announcement.

The reason some are worrying is that during the 2007 presidential elections, Swiss and Belgian media announced the name of Jacques Chirac’s successor before the official announcement was made in France itself. Furthermore, no legal action was taken against them. The 1977 legislation has illegalised the publication, dissemination, or review of any opinion polls on the day before and the day of elections until the last of the polling stations has closed. So in theory, if the results are announced on Twitter before the 8 o’clock news, the French legislation still applies to them even though it is an American website. If the votes are very close and a candidate files a complaint, a judge could announce that it the tweets affected the votes.

It’s amazing that something as trivial as Twitter could ruin the votes of an entire election. I know that some politicians find social websites the best way to reach out to the younger generations, but there must be other ways. Besides, we’re not always sure that they’re the ones who write their own tweets or their status updates on Facebook. Whatever happened to knocking on people’s doors?

By: Lauren

While in the last stages of working on the documentary, Nouran and I observed something: as a writer, one of the biggest compliments someone can pay you is to quote your work back to you. How is it, then, that there is this huge debate surrounding the use of music in online videos? These songs are often acknowledged at some point in the video or in the video’s sidebar, just as one would add the author’s name to the beginning or end of whatever they’re quoting from their work in a similar type of video. Furthermore, if the music is not cited in the video, it’s usually a song that is immediately recognizable as something that has been professionally produced, and therefore not the property of the one who posted the video; if the user did, in fact, compose/record any of the music in their video, it’s pretty likely that they’d make sure that everyone knew. Also, in this case, the video is likely not to be made for any kind of direct financial gain. So if music is being used in the same way as a quotation from a writer, for no monetary gain, then why does the debate still exist?