Trandall6’s Blog

In arguments for or against subscription music it is consistently argued that people wish to own music not rent it.

The most vocal opponent of subscription music is Apple founder Steve Jobs. He argued in a Rollingstone interview back in 2003: “These [music subscription] services that are out there now are going to fail. Music Net’s gonna fail, Press Play’s gonna fail. Here’s why: People don’t want to buy their music as a subscription. They bought 45’s; then they bought LP’s; then they bought cassettes; then they bought 8-tracks; then they bought CD’s. They’re going to want to buy downloads. People want to own their music. You don’t want to rent your music — and then, one day, if you stop paying, all your music goes away”.

Technological advancements are now making such an argument is increasingly irrelevant. People in the days of 45’s and LP’s did not purchase the record for the tangible object, the success of iTunes proves this. Rather they purchased 45’s, CD’s, etc. for the convenience of being able to listen to the recordings they desired, when they desired. This being opposed to waiting for the song they enjoyed to be played on the radio. However such records are usually, and still are priced to the extent that an extremely limited amount of music could be accessed each month. People desire to listen to far more music than this. Even 99c singles on iTunes do not satisfy my appetite for music before I run out of money. This is why people are turning to file sharing and will turn to subscription music if it is set up properly.

This desire to listen to more than say, one album a month is evident in youth culture. Teenagers today, the primary music market have access to a far wider variety of music and they choose to access it. This is evident as in the 1980’s for instance, due to economic limitations kids would only buy around one record a month, and strongly identify with it. High schools were filled with subcultures of Hip-Hop fans, Metal heads, and many other groups. Where as today, while there may be some identification with an artist that strongly resonates with an individual, kids do not form subcultures as strongly based on music any more.

A large scale subscription music model becoming the primary means by which people obtain their music also creates the issue that it would drive most record stores out of business. Speciality retailers that sell merchandise and nostalgia items such as vinyl may still exist, but chain stores such as Virgin, and even CD’s at Walmart would probably be a thing of the past. People consistently argue the loss of such stores to argue against digital music. To me this is a non issue. Such businesses will fade and die unless they change their model. It isn’t tragic or sad, it is capitalism. Public Enemy rapper Chuck D stated something along the lines of those that want to own music as a tangible physical product need to get with the times.

I personally take pride in my huge CD collection, the music I own. However I hope that one day my children will look at it the same way I look at my father’s vinyl collection, as a relic of the past.

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Hi this is the second part of a very short series explaining why subscription music could save the music industry, as well as giving us a more enjoyable listening experience. It will now be explained why subscription music has not yet taken off as the primary means that people enjoy music and suggestions for the form a large scale subscription model could take.

Why it has not yet worked

A reason subscription music has not risen from its current status as a niche service is technological constraints. Broadband infrastructure would have to exist to the extent that users could access high quality streaming music in the home. Customers would most probably expect to access the same music with a portable device as well.

However within the next decade these issues could also be resolved. A type of Wi-Fi is currently in development which has a signal range of over one hundred kilometres, rather than 10 metres. Moreover this type of Wi-Fi allows roaming, meaning once the user is out of range of one transmitter they pick up the signal of another, like a cell phone.

Suggestions for the form it could take

 

If carefully designed, subscription music could offer a similar cultural and economic model as the pay for recordings model of years past. Firstly statistics of what users have listened to could be anonymously recorded. This would allow for Billboard style charts, the popularity of artists could be measured again.

This could also help the artist, as a payment model could be put in place which compensates the artists for what they contribute to the popularity of the system. More listens would equal more money.

I also believe that what music is accessed on a subscription model should completely remain the user’s choice. By this I mean that if the user wants to hear, for example the Dixie Chicks they simply should access that music without being marketed other music through the device or having what they desire be off limits in some fashion. Music should be marketed separately from the subscription service through traditional means such as old media including MTV, RollingStone magazine, radio, etc and new media such as internet, MySpace, etc.

 

I started writing this blog for a university class. I am now on holidays but I miss all the writing I got to do during the semester so I have decided to write about things I am interested in here. So I guess I am a blogger now. I am currently into the idea of subscription music.

I recently read an article that introduced me to the idea of subscription music on a scale beyond that of the Zune, Napster, etc. which I believe could save the record industry. As will be explained below this is an industry that I believe is worth saving.

The article, which can be accessed here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/magazine/02rubin.t.html is concerned with Rick Rubin’s attempts as co-head of Columbia records to “save the record business”. He proposes a model in which “You would subscribe to music”, “You’d pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come anywhere you’d like. In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cellphone, from your computer, from your television. Anywhere. The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device you could plug into speakers at home. You’ll say, ‘Today I want to listen to … Simon and Garfunkel,’ and there they are.”

This may seem kind of out there, for example it would be difficult to get record companies to cooperate to create a library of all their material, even if there are only 4 major ones left. It would also prove difficult to make such a model economically profitable, and it is dependent on the existence of certain technologies such as broadband infrastructure. However major labels are quickly running out of other options.

It is widely acknowledged that the record business is dying. 2009 was the eighth year in a row that album sales declined, this time by 12.5%. Legally downloaded singles, while accounting for 40% of music sales are not closing this gap. In the US alone 5000 record company employees have been laid off since 2000 and 2700 record stores have closed since 2003. This is obviously caused by the proliferation of technology such as peer 2 peer file sharing that makes it easy to create high quality copies of music. Furthermore studies that can be accessed here http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/magazine/02rubin.t.html?pagewanted=3 show that young people primarily obtain music by stealing it, via means such as p2p or making friends a copy. They however, do not consider this stealing.

Co-founder of Intel Andy Grove has explained companies (or in this case an entire industry) face “strategic inflection points” at various periods. This is where the climate drastically changes giving the company the option of starting in a new direction, for initially less profits before business picks up again. Or the business could simply continue in the previous direction, for increasingly less profits. Subscription music could be a new direction.

This is because subscription music represents both a profitable alternative and deterrent from music piracy. This is primarily due to reasons of convenience. When downloading music peer 2 peer users could download viruses, with music subscription this no longer is an issue. Much more importantly it would allow users to quickly and easily access music they want. Obscure music is often hard to find in peer 2 peer networks, or it may not be there at all. This music could easily be obtained from a large subscription catalogue. The catalogue could be infinitely large with material quickly accessible, rather than the long process required to illegally download. Steve Jobs has stated that the success of iTunes is due to the fact it is easy to quickly find music on it. It’s success must be the result of convenience as the user is getting no physical product for their money and the same files usually exist on file sharing networks. However rather than getting maybe two albums for $19.95 on iTunes, with subscription music the user could access thousands, even millions of albums for that price.

There are many misguided people (usually pushing a far left agenda) that argue music piracy is a good thing as it somehow librates us from having to pay money for culture. To these groups I suggest that they acknowledge that reality, whether you like it or not is we live in a capitalist society. In such a society people get paid money for how they contribute to it. For example if a builder constructs a house they should be paid for that contribution to society. It simply is unfair to assume those that serve society in the information sector such as writers, musicians or computer programmers should do so for free in their spare time while working days at McDonalds or something to financially support themselves.

Furthermore as we have seen over the 20th century or so having a mass entertainment industry can be culturally beneficial. For example artists such as the Beatles have given entire generations common ground. Types of reconciliation has occurred between conflicting demographics in society through the shared appreciation of artists such as Michael Jackson. People of different geographic or cultural backgrounds can interact easier with shared social capital obtained from music.

Material that receives mass distribution also tends to be of greater quality. Long Tail music services such as Mp3.com, a site where anyone get upload their songs have been unsuccessful. This is because the material posted mostly is of low quality (sorry!). Music however has to be of high quality to justify the effort of exposing large audiences to it.

Subscription music could also help people discover music. For example with the current model of purchasing recordings previously a person would have to commit money towards a record to hear it. This commitment could keep say, a fifteen year old kid from checking out Bob Dylan, having become curious after reading of his legendary status. However with sub-music he/she could access the music and potentially enrich their life.

I understand I have touched on a lot of different areas here, this was intended to explain, in a concise fashion why subscription music becoming the dominant way people access music would be a positive thing. In later posts I will continue to argue this as well as offering suggestions for the form a mass subscription model could take.

I obtained much of the information in this post from these sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/magazine/02rubin.t.html?_r=1

http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/15137581/the_record_industrys_decline

Hi this is what went down in class.

Firstly the differnce between the empirical and critical conditions was explained.

Empirical: scientific method to determine the effects of media use, what media is used, etc.

Critical is a more philosophical big picture approach, more theory than data is discussed.

Post structuralism was then outlined. This theory is concerned with how power operates in the world. Argues that we do not have access to a true reality rather we understand things from frameworks that we are taught from a very young age. Power therefore is in these frameworks for instance the meaning a word symbolises. All people are formed through one of these cultural frameworks. We do not have to be forced to act this way it becomes how we wish to act.

We then went through the Miller and Rose reading paragraph by paragraph summary. The first six were:

1 Sets up the traditional view of power as being possessed by a “monsterous” state, which post structuralism intends to criticise.

2Governmemt defines some as citizens and they have a type of regulated autonomy.

3Concept of governmentally were raised that wished to get beyond the concept of the government as a tangible entity.

4Described government as a “matrix” where authorities express their strategies, etc. to govern the conduct of others.

5Explains that th government wishes to produce certain types of citizens that behave in certain ways.

6Explains that the government has various technologies to achieve things such as monitoring the population for instance the census.

We hope these help.

Dani, Diana and Tim.

Macken-Horarik, M 2003, ‘The children overboard affair’, Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Feb. pp. 1-16.

 

Tim Randall

 

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Hi guys this week I will be talking about the text “A telling symbiosis in the field of hatred” by Mary Macken-Horarik. The text is concerned with news reports that make use of multiple mediums to create meaning such as picture and written word. The author argues that while seeming unbiased media outlets use discourse to promote an agenda. The text explains that grammar, which is tools for analysing such texts has not been developed. Newspaper reports concerned with the “children overboard” controversy in 2001 are used as an example. The author uses this example to argue that while seeming unbiased media discourse is used to portray asylum seekers as an immoral faceless other while their accusers are portrayed positively.

 

The text firstly gives background of the event. In short reports of asylum seekers throwing their children overboard were on the front pages of many newspapers during the 2001 election when the Liberal party was re-elected. When the government heard of the story from an unreliable source they made it known to the public aiding their re-election by justifying their conservative policies. I personally find it more troubling that Australian prejudice was the deciding factor of the election regardless of the flawed information; this however is not really relevant in a discussion on media discourse.

 

The author also analyses how media discourse can promote an agenda, it is argued this is done in three ways. Firstly people in both mediums of the report are portrayed in either a general or specific fashion. The asylum seekers are portrayed in a general fashion by being referred to by their group such as “boat people” and their accusers are referred to individually. The author argues this contributes to asylum seekers being portrayed as a faceless other. Furthermore the author suggests the category the groups are put into in the report contributes to this bias. The accusers are defined by what role in Australian society they have for example PM John Howard which is described as a functionalist categorisation. However the asylum seekers are simply defined as boat people, an essentialist categorisation. This further contributes to a sense of otherness. Finally the role the groups are playing is argued to contribute to this bias. When active agents the asylum seekers throw children overboard when accusers are active they rescue them and provide food and shelter.

 

Overall I find this very interesting and was not aware how perhaps my opinions perhaps are shaped by subtle bias. It made me aware there is a further level of media literacy that most people do not possess including myself which could be taken advantage of.

Schirato & Yell, “Signs and Meaning”, in Communication and Cultural Literacy, Allen and Unwin, pp. 18-33.

 

Tim Randall

 

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Hi this week I will be talking about the text “Communication and Cultural Literacy” by Schirato and Yell. The text is discussing the theory of semiology, the discipline of studying signs. The author while admiring the theories of Saussure is proposing some improvements.

 

The text firstly explains that communication is not controlled by the sender, and that it is interpreted according to context such as the receiver’s perspective on certain issues. It outlines Saussure’s theory of semiology that explains that there is no inherent meaning to a sign, it differs. There are three aspects of signs.

1. Signifier, the written or spoken form e.g. Tree.

2. Signified, what concept is invoked e.g. Concept of Tree, is green has leaves, etc.

3. Sign, the combination of Signifier and Signified.

 

He believes there is no reason or system between the signifier and what it signifies (it is arbitrary), as such there is no basis for argument to change what a signifier signifies. Therefore Saussure argues that there is an underlaying unchanging system of signs that people use everyday. Moreover these signs do not represent the world rather change the way we look at it as we often consider the signified concept when looking, for instance at a tree.

 

The author points out numerous problems with this theory. Firstly that a signifier simply signifies another signifier for instance a tree simply signifies the concept of a tree not the essence. I had never considered this and it makes me question where may of my signified concepts come from. Furthermore the belief that all signs are intentional communication is question as, for example you could wear your last clean T shirt not knowing that the print on the front is communicating something to someone. Finally the word may be arbitrary yet it may be aspiring to invoke/promote a certain concept.

 

The belief of Marxist Linguist Volosinov that any symbols meaning is the result of an ideological struggle is raised. The concept that is invoked from the signifier “woman” is used as an example of this. Concepts could be signified of either domestic housewife or adult female with a different role in society. Another example is given, a newspaper article on British colonisation in Australia emphasising a certain signified concept for the word “violence”. These examples raise the important question of where the meaning of symbols is derived from in the majority society, who has this power. Overall I feel the author’s argument is logically consistent and can be witnessed empirically such as the struggle to have derogatory signifiers of social groups lose their power. It is also very relevant for those that study media as it makes us aware that if we communicate to large audiences our words will be interpreted in different ways.

Couldry, N. 2005, ‘The Extended Audience: Scanning the horizon’, in G. Marie (ed.), Media Audiences, Open University Press, Berkshire, pp. 184-220.

 

Tim Randall

 

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Hi this week I will be talking about the text The Extended audience by Nick Couldry. The author is primarily discussing how there is a different type of media audience than in the past in today’s media world. This is the result of new technologies that have led to different mediums and different locations of use. The author mentions the view of Abercrombe and Longhurst that there is now a “diffused” media audience which is always around some type of media. Furthermore Abercrombe and Longhurst argue that technology has lead to the power relationship of the media producer over the audience as being no longer relevant. While the author acknowledges that there has been a proliferation of the mediums and locations of media use he argues these power relationships remain. Therefore he proposes that we rename this period of audience activity that of “extended” audiences. While I agree with the author’s argument I feel to some extent the power of traditional media producers is slightly less in today’s media climate.

 

The author uses evidence to support the assertion. Firstly he uses a statement by the philosopher Foucault to support his argument that states that those that hold power in society do so by it being supported by the activities of everyday people. He argues this is how media institutions keep their position of power over today’s extended audience. I found this to be a very good point but it raises the issue of did the public give the media the power first or has the media convinced the public to support it. Furthermore the author argues that even today the media institutions still decide on what is considered news. I notice the same news across a vast number of different outlets so I agree that in this era that power remains. Moreover it is outlined that currently audiences make trips to film sites. The author argues this is because they enjoy the unusual experience of being at a place that they usually view from a distance, an example of an audience/producer distinction remaining. The author also discusses web cam technology and argues that even when using it the distinctions of celebrity producer and everyday audience member remain. While I find both of these points interesting I feel that further evidence is necessary to convince the reader of the thesis. Overall however I find the thesis logical and believable.


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  • trandall6: Thanks alot for that comment. I had never even considered the potental loss of data which could occur under such a model. Like you said, differnet per
  • indie69: Excellent part 3. You make some great points and bring up ideas that I hadn't thought of before. Different perspectives. The one thing I'd point o
  • indie69: Thanks for the comment on my blog. You've challenged some of my ideas, too. But really I just agree with you on the subscription model with the only r

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