Category Archives: Media

Loving Music in a World of Shifting Business Models

I love music.

I probably listen to music 4-6 hours a day, much of it while I am working.

And I am not an expert on music, digital business models, digital technology, or the music business.  I am simply a humble, passionate user.

I am worried that the “market” for music is going to evolve away from what I want.  Is downloaded music over?  Is streaming dead? Or doomed to being a loss-leader for larger behemoths like cell phone carriers or Amazon?

Ever since digital music and downloading emerged, I have been happy to pay for music.  Most of my iTunes library was built from ripping my CDs.  And as the RIAA and its business allies screamed and shouted and whinged about illegal downloads in the era of Napster, I seethed that all those freeloaders were making life difficult for me by provoking various forms of DRM (digital rights management).  For example, I couldn’t copy music from a first generation iPod from the iPod to a second computer.  I paid for the music, and now this wall of property rights was inserted in MY TECHNOLOGY.

Models evolved.  Pandora came along and at first I loved it.  But then, I realized, I wanted to be able to play the song I wanted when I wanted.  Too many hours were spent trying to “trick” Pandora into the perfect mix of alternative, folk, americana, jazz, and bluegrass.

I tied to get off iTunes with a Songbird experiment.  But something happened and it mixed up meta data and then I had songs with the wrong titles.  I am still looking for an iTunes alternative, preferably one that folds lyrics in.

RDIO came along, and I happily signed up.  $10 a month for unlimited PC streaming of anything I wanted?  Yes, please.

I learned about emusic.  Which has been around for awhile, in turns out.  I can often get songs for $0.49 or $0.79!  The model also constrains my spending to $15 a month on new music.  I listen to music on RDIO.  When I hear something I like, I pop over to emusic.com and buy it.  If I want to make a mix cd for a friend, I go into iTunes.  It all works just fine.

But emusic changed its catalog to focus only on “indie artists and labels.”  Fine.  But, really, no Indigo Girls?  So, am I back to buying from Amazon or iTunes?  Are the artists even seeing anything fair in these purchases?  Spotify et al have big revenue streams, but most of that goes to the labels, not the creators of the music.

Rdio won’t make the details of its revenue public, but Spotify took in more than half a billion dollars last year. Nevertheless, its losses grew from from $60 million to $78 million. Spotify executives say 70 percent of its revenue went to paying licensing fees. (From NPR).

eMusic, through its editorial, magazine-like portal, Wondering Sound, is trying to make music discovery and curating a service you want.  That is fine, as far as it goes, but the link from listening to buying then becomes too convoluted.  I hear a song I like on Rdio, or through its pretty good social media features, and then I have to hunt for it on eMusic.com, and if not there, maybe Amazon?  Maybe iTunes?  But pay more?  And also feel like I am no longer supporting emusic’s love-of-music ethos?  It is like buying music from Wal-Mart instead of a record store.  I _LIKE_ hanging out in the record store.

One jazz music writer covers some of the emusic changes and what it means for his tastes.

Meanwhile, vinyl is making its little comeback, even in our house, led by my music-phile son, Elijah.  Music I love, like The National, or San Fermin, or Sharon Von Etten, I’d be willing to buy and own as vinyl for the audio quality.

Why are labels so powerful still?  Because they control the back catalogs?

Why can’t there be a stream-and-purchase model?  Emusic.com has a stream part, but you are capped at like ten hours a month.  Why wouldn’t musicians seek out a label-free distribution platform so they can record music and have it available to stream, download or hard copy purchase without going through a label?  A platform that also catalyzes concert-going and other revenue streams for them?

UPDATE:  Pandora seems to have some ideas along these lines, as here Fortune describes Customer Relationship Management for artists…

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Filed under Creativity, digital culture, Future of Technology, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, management, Media, music, Network Society, Social Networks, Uncategorized

Society for Creative Maladustment

Pacifica Radio and DemocracyNow aired today a recently re-discovered speech that MLK gave in London in 1964 on his trip to accept Nobel peace prize.

I only heard second half or so in car. But this part struck me as humorous and still timely. I want to see if we can recreate the society of creatively maladjusted people.

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/1/19/exclusive_newly_discovered_1964_mlk_speech

“Every academic discipline has its technical vocabulary. Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in modern psychology. It is the word “maladjusted.” You’ve heard that word. This is the ringing cry of modern child psychology. And certainly we all want to live well-adjusted lives in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But I must say to you this evening, my friends, as I come to a close, that there are some things in my own nation, and there are some things in the world, to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon all men of goodwill to be maladjusted until the good society is realized. I must honestly say to you that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation, discrimination, colonialism and these particular forces. I must honestly say to you that I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I must honestly say to you that I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I must say to you tonight that I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence, for in a day when Sputniks and explorers are dashing through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can win a war. It is no longer the choice between violence and nonviolence; it is either nonviolence or non-existence… And I assure you that I will never adjust to the madness of militarism.

You see, it may well be that our whole world is in need at this time for a new organization—the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment—men and women—…”
He goes on to list prophets of justice and figures from US history who were maladjusted…

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Filed under Media, Politics, Power, Activism

Ideas for Questions and Themes for Arianna Huffington

Today, as part of the tech/no Forum series at Bucknell, we are hosting Arianna Huffington.  I had imagine I would do some deep research on her background, her role as founder of HuffingtonPost, her role as CEO of the merged AOL-Huffington company  her ideas on the relationship between media, democracy, and profit, the death (?) of the newspaper, and so on.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Instead, I’ll have to generate some from what I have in my head (as opposed to research-based).

If you are coming to the afternoon session, feel free to read these, use these, modify these, and so on.

Business and Technology

* Is the content-for-eyeballs formula of the Internet dying?  Are advertisers not willing to pay?

* Are we at the end of an innovation burst as the Internet and mobile platforms are merging?  Is the heady period of “social media” and its rapid expansion done?

* Who are HP’s or AOL’s competitors?

Media and Profit

* Is it the responsibility of the media company to provide what “customers” want or what they need?  Does a media/news company create its own demand and then project that onto the audience.  “See, they want _____________ (tits, blood, murders, horse-race politics)?” Continue reading

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Filed under Business, economics, Future of Technology, higher education, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, Media, Network Society, Politics, Power, Activism, Social Networks, sociology, technology, Technology history

Teach for America’s hidden curriculum

Teach for America’s hidden curriculum – http://pulse.me/s/iAL5Q Need to finish reading this. I still don’t see enough of teacher unions working on good reform .

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Filed under activism, equality, Media, Protest

The False Ideology of a Neutral Center

I took the plunge and posted this on facebook:

I am irked by “centrists” like Matt miller on KCRW’s Left Right and Center who think center ALWAYS means that left and right are equivalent in their commitment to ideology over good ideas and therefore the only possible solutions to economy, politics, and government is some sort of “third way.” And they think non-choice is non-ideological.

On a side note, I never know how much politics or “political economy” (the broader interrelated questions of fairness, governance, philosophy, and values) to put on FB. I have often said, and should write more about the double-edged sword of FB- it is based on network growth and inter-connectivity, but the broader a network becomes, the more limited it’s uses. At the extreme, FB will become an on-line version of Lake Wobegone nomrs: to avoid unsettling anyone, only discuss the weather in polite company.

Anyway, Matt Miller, the host and apparent “arbiter” on Left, Right and Center (a great show even if it is made by the communists socialists Nazis at NPR,was on a tear about the need for a new label for “radical centrists.” He made his version of a passionate plea for now being the time for a brave new “third way” politics (was he around during the 1990s when Blair and Giddens did this? and, um, that US president, named, um, Clinton?)

Matt Miller makes some good points, sometimes. But I find he often starts where much of the “mainstream”media seem to: that the excesses of left and right are always there, always misguided, always driven by ideology over facts and therefore the only hope for progress comes in some third way. Even as his OWN SHOW has left and right weaving in and out of agreement on issues like the Fed, China, and Afghanistan, he cannot let go of the animating narrative of his life.

Sometimes the “very” left is simply correct. For example, there is growing wealth and wage inequality in the US, and tax policies have much to do with it. Or, the distortions in health care of the US compared to other comparable societies is due to all the money that flows to the various sectors of the Health-industrial complex. No amount of compromise with the right can make those critiques go away.

Rarely, the “right” is correct. Ron Paul wants to audit the Fed. I am with Bob Scheer on this one. The Fed as it has become run is a distortion of democracy in our economy. I can agree with some critiques of changing or weakening values in US society, although I won’t agree with solutions or causes, probably.

So, I would rather Miller’s idea of a radical center be more of arbiter between right and left than always elevate its (false) sense of being above the messy fray by being aghast at the ideology around it. There is no non-ideological center…

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Filed under activism, Media, Political theory, Politics, Power, Activism

Networks and jobs

It is always interesting to me how much people like the “strength of weak ties” argument.  It is so familiar to me, I forget how powerful it can be.  I mentioned it in my Bucknell “new faculty” profile, and ended up getting a media request from an on-line columnist.

I may not have given her the “five hot tips” for job hunting she wanted (of course, if they were so hot, why would I give them away, or why would she?), but it was fun to try and riff for a few minutes on netcentric insights.

Here is what I said:

I can give you a few insights from my background studying social networks.

Most people assume that they will get the most support from those closest to them: family and long time friends. This is true for one kind of social capital: the strong ties that make us feel safe and foster healthy self-confidence. However, weak ties, old school mates, friends of friends, former co-workers and the like, are valuable for a differ reason: they are far more likely to be have information different from yours due to the fact that your strong ties tend to be linked to each other, whereas each of your weak ties is unlikely to be linked to your other weak ties. Research has shown that job seekers, especially younger ones, attain employment through the information gleaned from weak ties.

At the same time, networks are two way streets. People can sense and will avoid a “network jerk.” Even though some companies, like Amway, try to marketize pre-existing relations, most of us prefer that community and friendship ties and not just a façade to get to something valuable. I tell my students, in short, that you have to be a real person and grow your networks and relationships for the sake of the relationships.

LinkedIn or other SNS can simplify or accelerate existing social processes. Just as people in real networks rely on signals to determine how much they like a new contact, signals like their credential, who they know, how they present themselves, so too in virtual networks powered by web 2.0 software. In virtual networks, employers or HR mangers will develop ways to “read” the candidate through their profile. In fact, the speed and ease of linking in SNS can have a perverse effect for job seekers. If I am an employer looking for employees, I want to avoid a deluge of inappropriate applicants. If it is too easy to find or link to me in a virtual network like facebook, then I will limit accessibility. If I saw a recent grad with 200-300 contacts in LinkedIn, I would be skeptical that these were real and relevant contacts and not just the result of excessive “friending.”

Here are some more resources you may find useful:

http://nevereatalone.typepad.com/

Getting a Job (by author of original weak ties work): http://books.google.com/books?id=2xgEIBTTdVUC

Recent work that includes gender in questions of networks and careers: http://knowledge.insead.edu/contents/Ibarra.cfm

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Filed under Media, Social Network Sites, Social Networks, technology

Climate Change Song- “Get Down Into It”

YouTube – Get Down Into It

Local musicians and citizens raising awareness fueled by digital and living web technologies.  Look for me and Thea in early part.

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Filed under activism, climate change, lewisburg, life, Media, participatory technology, technology

Blogging and Democracy of the blog media- 2nd Guardian Column

I think the title for my Guardian Column (they don’t seem to update the site) is “Our Online Selves.”  That can be improved.

Here is the second installment.

“The End of Culture and Truth?”

I am a blogger.  Eight years ago, saying this might have conjured up someone doing something disdainful with their finger and nose, or some fascinating example of a field position in some strange British idea of a sport.  But now, most people recognize that I maintain a web-published journal or log (“blog” is a contraction of Web-log).  Why would I or anyone else write publish a personal journal on the web?  Who do we think we are, anyway?  Great unwashed masses clogging the for a with our swollen egos.  Like so much on the Internet, from the amusing video of Mentos and Diet Coke (google it!) to archives of Saturday morning cartoon characters, the common response is “Who has the time?”

A friend of mine, a professor, told me off-handedly: “I don’t read blogs.  I don’t have time for anyone’s unfinished writing.”  I was spluttering with annoyance at such a narrow perspective of blogs and blogging.  I have kids so I get the “no time” complaint.  But unfinished writing?  Surely he has heard the idea that no writing is ever finished meaning that all his favorite classics were also “unfinished writing.”  Who knows what undiscovered Shakespeares and Toni Morrisons are out there?  I think what he really meant was that he preferred writing that had already been vetted by some authority.  He wanted a seal of approval.

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Filed under digital culture, Information and Communication Technology, Living Web, Media, technology, writing

Superbowl and Internet Advertising

A writer from the local paper, The Daily Item, emailed my department asking for background on something about superbowl advertisers doing more with the internet.

Here is what I gave her back. It will be fun to see what gets used (if anything.)

“The mingling of the new kid on the block- Internet advertising- with the old (and big) kid- Superbowl advertising, crystallizes important shifts in media use and consumption in America. First, the Internet is no fenced off. Second, the Internet is more and more the Everyone-Net.

The Internet is less and less a privileged or partitioned media for commerce and advertising. The fence is down. Some researchers estimate that 10% of all ad dollars will go to Internet advertising by 2010. Meanwhile, live TV viewership declined 10% in 2007. What is more striking is how much citizens trust the Internet given how wary of mass media and generally information-saturated they are. Recent research from the Annenberg School for Communication found that by 2007 80% of Internet users rated the Internet as an important source of information, much higher than TV (68%), radio (63%) or newspapers (63%). Consumers seeking information appreciate authenticity, and they find it more and more in cyberspace.

These effects are magnified by the increasing adoption of the Internet and especially broadband which has surged from 5% to 42% of households since 2000. We are watching the extension of the Internet to the Everyone-Net. Internet penetration is up to 75% of American households (the most of any country, however many other countries have more intense Internet use per wired household. Israel is first at 57 hours per month. The US is about 32). Ten years ago there were clear race and class divides in in Internet use. Those have narrowed considerably (but persist for broadband connectivity). Among college graduates, the difference in White, Black, and Hispanic internet use is almost zero. The digital divides are now along education and age lines and narrowing progressively.

But those are only the tip of a big iceberg. Consumers are far more savvy about information sources and products. Cyberspace is becoming a destination for entertainment, community, and commerce. The logic of the Internet is not one-to-many, like print or broadcast media, but many-to-many. This is a fundamental difference whose significance can not be overlooked. As advertisers shift, they will have to learn how to navigate the mixture of entertainment, community, and commerce online. They don’t own the stage like they have with big production Superbowl ads. They will have to learn that the audience mingling amongst themselves is the only show in town.” anything).

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