Music & Social Media

We’re at the last blog of the semester. As with the previous one, it will focus on the topic my classmates put forward in line with their thesis research. This time focused on the role of social media in the music industry.

So, music and social media. The two are indeed an important combination. I remember back in the day when MySpace was the place for bands to come in contact with their fans online. Since that social platform has now gone extinct, its role has been taken over by Facebook. It is now easier than ever to keep in check with your favourite bands. Just hit the like button on their Facebook page and you’ll be able to receive every single one of their updates (provided they are active on Facebook). If anything I think social media and the Internet have made it so people can be more actively engaged with bands. What better way to know when they’ll be playing in your neighbourhood than checking the tour schedule they just posted online? Another major player in the industry is YouTube. Of the 100 most watched videos on YouTube, 95 of them are music videos. It is so apparent that even Wikipedia has made indications in its list to signify what videos are not of the musical genre. This goes to show how important the platform has become in playing music and sharing it with your audience. The most played video has 4,35 billion views, equal to roughly 57% of the world population. Now I know that this doesn’t mean that each one of those clicks is a separate person, but it goes to show how insane playing music has become on the video platform. The most streamed song on Spotify “only” has 1,43 billion clicks. You could say YouTube has become the MTV of today, except here the user gets to choose which videos he/she wants to see.

There is no way around it; music artists have to take social media into account if they want to become successful. And this doesn’t limit itself to just artists. Even organisers have made the jump to the online world. A few days ago Graspop, a metal festival in Belgium, announced its first 46 names (apart from the headliners) through, you guessed it, Facebook. It’s apparent that the (r)evolution runs through almost every aspect of the industry.

 


Henry Jenkins

Henry Jenkins talks about participation culture, how through emerging technologies the kids who find school more or less boring are now finding a platform in which to channel their passions and beliefs. Jenkins longs for a world in which the people who are obsessed with anime, dungeons and dragons etc. will start to feel the same obsessions over democracy.

It’s an intriguing concept. And it’s something that I think is happening right now at an increasing rate. If you go to /r/all on Reddit right now (23.11.2017) the top posts are all about the FCC trying to dismantle Net Neutrality. Millions of people have come together to try and defend their right to an open and free flowing internet, and not having it become yet another victim of capitalist interests. The internet and its evolving potential stands as a last bastion (and some would say last chance) of the peaceful, harmonic world we’ve envisioned in everything from literature to music. We’re on the precipice of losing that last bastion right now and people are standing up. Not just the people who study how a world without net neutrality would work, but the gamers, the bloggers, the musicians who use social media to make themselves heard and interact–the people that Jenkins refers to, in other words.

It’s heartening to see so many humans set aside their differences and focusing on something we all love and hold dear, and it’s something I think we’ll see more of as the internet continues to evolve. If it’s allowed to, that is…

But even if Net Neutrality is upheld, the dangers of capitalism and profit still stand to ruin the freedom of the net. Jaron Lanier warns of this, and especially Facebook and Google and how they operate by creating mass behavioral modification systems based on pay. We’re in many ways already trapped. Facebook is as good as ubiquitous and works as a sleight of hand magician or a personally tailored spider web to create these spaces in which we believe the illusion that we’re in control of what he see and know, but the reality is very different.

The great thing about the internet, though, is that it can be changed at any time. It’s not set in stone. We’re still figuring this thing out and will be for the foreseeable future, but if Net Neutrality is dismantled we will be completely at the mercy of corporations like Facebook, and we would lose the ability to enact paradigm shifts that could change it for the better–or at least change it to something different when we realize that whatever we’re currently doing is the wrong thing to do.

Facebook is one of those things that I think needs to change–or go away completely.
They claim it’s meant as a social experiment, well the experiment failed from a social point of view. Now it’s just a billion dollar flytrap were we got stuck before we even knew what we were signing up for.


End of the line

This will be my last blog post as  a part of the 303 course I’m taking, but that does not necessarily mean that I wont post more at a later time.
This post will be based on readings again provided by my fellow students and will be much on the same theme as I am writing my thesis on, Participatory culture.

The fist part is a video by Henry Jenkins as a part of the Big Thinkers series.
Henry explains how youth in school actually learn more from engaging in communities where they have a invested interest outside of school. He debates that for a learning environment and the educational process to be successful, you need to also engage the different interests of the youth.
Give them a sense of entitlement and validation for their work not only in school, but outside aswell, and try to bring that fruitful creativity and willingness to learn into the education.

The second part is two chapters in the book Participatory Culture in a Networked Era Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito, danah boyd. Chapter 4 and 5 to be exact.
These chapters delve more in-depth on the theme that Jenkins talks about in his video, how and why we should encourage digital literacies as a part of education.
I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that we need to cater education more towards youths interests then the straight forward classroom teaching.
The fact that youth learn more and faster from engaging with online communities than actual classroom education should serve as a big indicator that it is high time to make some changes.
Creating interest, building interest and molding a solid learning environment should be the next step of education. As a part of the curriculum, there should be time devoted to alternative learning methods, this is where the students can shine, and really come forth with their interests.

The second set of readings are based on the music industry and their link to social medias. As his project my fellow student is creating a work of digital art. By taking comments on Facebook from pages belonging to music bands and rearranging them into new comments. This looks to be a surreal and ironic take on the fact that band can simply pay for likes. A band might have 10000 followers, but only 1-10 comments on their posts, and barely the same number of likes. It will be interesting to look at what this “Comment Generator” will come up with.
In the article from Metalsucks.net Vince Neilstein argues that social media have actually helped musicians to get more in touch with their fans, and have created a more direct stream of revenue from fan to band.
I have to agree with this. If you like a band, you can now just look them up on Facebook, like their page and all of a sudden you are informed of concerts, releases and other events. Just like the good old mailing list.
This of course only works when you are a fan and actually like a page. Though it is evident that bands, especially niche bands, or sub-genre band can exploit this by paying to get followers. These are just empty numbers, and not actual fans that will buy their product. But in the eyes of say, a label company, all they see is that this band has a huge following, and will be worth investing in.

The last reading delves into the music journalism and how journalism as a whole has not been able to keep up with the rapidly growing digital trends. The lack of innovation for journalists has led to a “forced sellout” where they hand over their content to other medias like snapchat or instagram, in the hopes that it will peak interest, and again lead to revenue.
The writer of the article Jason Gross talks about how journalism is not wholly suited for the new medias, and how, just like news papers, music magazines are suffering from the uprise of digital medias. Free content and amateur generated reviews are moving in on their turf.
I also believe that the availability of music today has led to music journalists not being needed anymore. “Back in the day”, one would read a music magazine to get inspiration to new music to listen to, or one would go to a record shop, talk to the sellers and maybe be allowed to listen to a track or two from selected bands.
Nowadays, it takes you a single search on YouTube, Spotify or any other digital media hosting music, and there you go. You can listen to anything at any time and make up your own mind than and there instead of reading a magazine, purchasing an album and then go home to listen to it.
Music journalism is dying and the cause is the fact that they are not needed in any capacity any more. We can find and listen to anything we want, and we do not need a journalist to tell us if the music is good or bad, we can make that decision for ourselves now. There is no need for a middle man any more.

Those are my thoughts on the ideas of Jenkins and the educational environment, and the music industry moving to social media as a platform of spreading content.
Hopefully there will be more to come on this blog, but as of now, the only thing left to do is finishing up the semester and do my exams.
Thank you for reading my blog, and I`ll hope you`ll be back if and when I start up again.


How having more music has made me less interested in it

As Facebook is making a play for the music industry, commentators are speculating about how social media is affecting artists and music producers. Digby Pearson argues that social media is making music fans more fragmented, and that being a fan of an artist has gone from being about going to concerts to clicking “like” on Facebook. Vince Neilstein argues for social media in his article, claiming that social media has helped artists to reach more listeners (Source).

The arguments by Pearson and Neilstein are typical of the debate about music in a social media age. On the one side there are those who praise social media as a way to reach a larger audience. And on the other side there are those who think that social media belittles music by changing and simplifying the relationships between artists and fans. But reading Neilstein’s article made me think about another issue: how does the modern music industry, with Spotify as the main source of music for a lot of people, change our relationship to music as an art form? I have no answers to this question other than to reflect on how my own relationship to music has changed over the years.

 

The first music I can remember owning was a vinyl record by Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, handed down to me from my father. Later, when my childhood bedroom was updated with a CD-player, most of the music I listened to was collections: movie soundtracks and rock- and pop collections. I never had a lot of music, and some of it was bad. But I listened to the music I had again and again, until I knew most of the songs by heart. And I appreciated every song, good or bad.

When I got my first computer at age 14, at a time of dial-up modems and a painfully slow internet connection, CD’s (and occasionally a floppy disk) with Mp3 files were traded amongst my friends. I remember having a collection of about 150 Mp3 files, including rock, rap, pop and some comedy songs. Just like with my earlier CD collection, I listen to these few songs so many times I can still remember the lyrics to many of them.

As internet speeds improved, and I discovered torrent sites, my music collection started to increase. For the first time I couldn’t listen to all my music in a day. I had to start organizing my files into folders. My collection of music, although not dramatically large, became something I had to manage. And even though all the music in the world was now easily obtainable, I built a carefully selected collection of music – I only wanted to have music I liked.

From my first vinyl record to my collection of less then legally obtained music, one thing was always true: I knew my music. I knew what music I had, what I liked and I knew some of it by heart. Today, I don’t own any vinyl records. My CD collection is very limited. And I don’t have a collection of downloaded Mp3-files, because I eventually grew up and wanted to get my music legally.

 

Today I have a Spotify subscription, and all the music in the world has never been so easily available to me. But what does that mean for my relationship to music? Unlike before, I no longer know my music. In stead of CD’s or folders with Mp3 files, I now have a collection of playlists on Spotify, many of which are labeled “something something – check out later”. Ironically, I felt more of an ownership of the music I previously downloaded from torrent sites. I at least had to work for that music – I had to battle sleazy ads for magic pills and dating sites, search for and find the right files, and risk getting a computer virus or a Scientology documentary instead of music (yeah, that really happened once).

On Spotify I don’t have to do anything. And everything is there. And yet, I never feel like there’s anything to listen to (talk about a first-world problem). There’s too much music to browse through, too much to feel any kind of ownership over. And Spotify is filter-bubbling me the same music suggestions all the time, so even when I do try finding something new, it’s still the same.

Of course I enjoy Spotify, and I’m not going to end my subscription anytime soon. But I can’t help feeling that, with the massive music library Spotify offers, something has been lost. And yes, I am spoiled – complaining about too much and too easy to find music. I guess if I have to find some sort of moral to this rambling, it’s that the more you have of something, the less it is worth.

Presentation time

As I’ve been following Mia Zamora’s class, it’s now my turn to do take over the class for parts of tomorrow and present my thesis.

My thesis will focus on Participatory culture within game developement and gaming communities. I will present my practical projec,t the Twine game I’ve been blogging about, my positive and negative experiences about it and how I connect it to participatory culture. I will also talk about what my plans is for the rest of my master program, what I plan to do and how to go about it.

I hope to get a fruitful discussion going in class about participatory culture, the reading I assigned for them (chapte 5 of Participatory culture in a networked ers and a video with Henry Jenkins), and any input they might have on the topic.

My turn

This week its my turn to provide the other students with readings, so I wont be commenting on that. Rather, I will do a short post on what my thoughts for class will be, since I`m going to be in charge of parts of it, and then I`ll write a bit on what I hope to achieve, both with my masters and in class.

Firstly, my thesis will be on The silent majority and participatory culture. What I hope to achieve, my “end goal” so to speak, will be to identify reasons why people want to participate in the online discourse, how to generate an interest in participating and lastly reasons why people avoid participating.
I hope to produce something akin to a book, or a guide to participatory culture, and I think the key to success here, is to identify why and why not people want to partake in this. By reading my thesis, people would gain a greater understanding of what it is to participate and the benefits from that one can reap from this.

I will have to divide my focus into two groups, the silent majority and the vocal minority. Hopefully by identifying key reasons why people participate, I will be able to come up with a sort of guide or rule of thumb on how to increase participation. My thoughts are that this will be useful in any scenario where one is dependent on the crowd and their feedback.
I aim to look at participatory culture in a few distinct areas with a different form of participation. The ideas I have at the moment are the gaming community and specifically those who produce content made to benefit others, guides, lore, tactics on forums and bulletin boards, and those who stream or produce video content and are engaging their audience that way.
I will also look at other forms of participation, like those who produce and/or correct information on sites like Wikipedia and lastly I will look at participation and the lack thereof as a whole.

One of the biggest issues I have encountered so far will be to define participation and the quality of contributions. Do I need to split them into different categories or genre’s? Will it suffice to call something useful or useless? An example would be someone who has spent 50 hours creating a game guide for no other reason then to help others V.S. one who posts a picture of food on a website or social media and just types #dinner #food.
Creating these definitions will be a challenge, and also trying to avoid being biased when labeling contributions. We all have biases, but being aware of them and hopefully being considerate while working might help me avoid the bigger issues, or so I hope.

The second large problem I know I will encounter, is how to reach out to the silent majority!? By posting on different forums, by using amazon Turk or by actively engaging with streamers, wont I just be reaching the vocal minority? So how do I reach the counterpart then? One idea I have would be to create an anonymous questionnaire and hopefully have the faculty spread it to students at UIB, and going by unconfirmed statistics, most of the answers I get would be from the silent majority. I can also post it on open forums and take my chances that seeing who its anonymous and does not require a login or giving up credentials to answers it, I might get a few lurkers there aswell.
Who knows, and that is the hard part of trying to research the silent majority, they are silent… And therefore hard to reach, and harder to research.

I’m thinking that my research will be part case study part elimination process, by eliminating factors as I go, I hopefully will end up with a few key factors that play an important role in participating or not. These factors will then be easier to research once they are narrowed down.
One topic I will also look at, which is more theoretical and academic will be the consequences of participation.  I will use the 90–9–1 rule as a basis here. This is translated into 90% lurkers, 9% vocal but less engaged and 1% being the most vocal and those who regularly produce content.
Going by these numbers, it would mean that EVERYTHING we see online today, all the websites, all the forums, all the blogs and all the user-created content you can think of, is created by 10% of the internet users we`ve had since its origins… Digest that for a minute.
Now, imagine we could bump that number up to say 15 or even 20%. How would that change the web as we know it? We already have an incredible amount of information online, and we live in a society of total and utter information overload. What then, will be the consequences of increased participation. Would it cause a collapse, seeing how incredibly much content could be produced. Would sites like Reddit and Wikipedia soar to new heights and in turn become major online economics, like others have before them, Facebook, YouTube and Google to name a few.
Will crowdsourcing become the new way of getting things done? Crowdfunding be the new investors? If 15% of those who have access to the web gave you 0.1$ you would have 55,500,000$. That is insane, and surely more than enough money for any startup business to get on its feet.

So there you have it, that’s what I have planned for my thesis, as of now at least, and parts of what I have in mind for my session in class.
So if there are any lurkers out there, which I know there is, gimme a feedback, write me a comment, or even better, tell me why you don’t want to or like to participate!
In advance, thank you.

 


Digital Literacy and The Silent Majority

This week’s blog will be divided into two separate parts. Two of my classmates will be presenting their thesis, each dealing with a different topic.

 

First of all, I’ll be talking about Digital Literacy. In my eyes this concept signifies the capability someone has to deal with digital media. A digitally literate person knows how to make use of online tools, what the implications behind it are, what the dangers are, etc. A topic that gets brought up a lot in the context of this is privacy on social media. It is often stated that many people don’t stop to think about the implications or possible consequences when they post something themselves. Various people say that this should be something that schools need to adopt in their curriculum. I do agree that schools can play an important role in teaching the skills needed to foster a good handling of online media, but I think that you will never be able to do this solely through education. A lot of it, I feel, comes down to trail and error. You can tell children all about the dangers on something, but if they don’t experience it themselves or through someone close to them they will never truly learn it. The majority of it is dependent on themselves and their direct environment as well. It is a very important skill, one that will be fundamental in the future.

 

As a second topic here is that of the silent majority in participatory culture. I never thought of a concept like this in a digital context. My understanding of it was always through a political view. An interesting statement was that big data could potentially lead us to knowing what the general line of thought is of the silent majority. While this could indeed be a big development, a few concerns can be brought up. First of all that of privacy, many people have already voiced their discontent of data gathering to make advertising more personalised. Is the use of this data for political reason than so much better? If anything abuse of personal data in this context could have some very dangerous implication. What I do find interesting is ‘the 90-9-1 principle’ that was proposed in one of the articles. This states that 90% of a community are lurkers, 9% are sporadically vocal and 1% is incredibly vocal. I’ve always thought online communities were more defined by a sort of 80-20 or pareto-principle. Whereby 80% of all the content comes from 20% of the community. I will look further into it though.
All in all, I’m curious what my classmates will bring tomorrow.


Lurkers and the Silent Majority

“The Silent Majority” is, according to Julia Kirby, a phrase that President Nixon used to describe the people who were not against the Vietnam war, who Nixon believed to be in majority, but were less vocal than the anti-war protesters. And during the 2016 presidential election, then Republican candidate Donald Trump claimed that he would win the election, despite the polls saying the opposite. Trump justified his claim by referring to the silent majority – claiming that there were far more Trump-voters than what the polls suggested.

The idea behind the silent majority is simple: the most vocal are not necessarily the majority. Kelly McNamara writes about the 90-9-1-rule about online communities, which states that 90% tend to be engaged but less vocal, 9% tends to be more vocal by commenting and sharing, and 1% tend to be the most vocal by creating new content. While the numbers may not be exactly 90, 9 and 1, the idea is simply that most engaged people don’t contribute. These are often referred to as lurkers.

Whether you call them the silent majority or lurkers, I can’t help thinking that someone is making a big deal about something that is actually quite simple: not everyone has a desire to expose themselves by contributing online, and we can’t know what everyone is thinking about something. The silent majority is not some organized, underground revolutionary force. It’s a statistical blind spot. It’s not knowing everything about everyone (thankfully).

Of course it’s interesting to look into why some people don’t wish to contribute much online. And it’s interesting to ask: how would things look if they did? If the internet is to be a democratic tool, then everyone should have the same opportunities to contribute. So if lurkers are not contributing because of some external factors such as fear of internet trolling or low digital literacy, then that is a problem. And it should be addressed.

Thesis update

Hi everyone, just a small update on my thesis (a big one actually if you look at it). I finally managed to get into contact with my thesis coordinator. While my topic is still Algorithmic Awareness, my focus has shifted a bit. Instead of looking at the consumer side, I’ll turn towards the producer-side. I’m taking a look at how news producers think about the algorithms behind Facebook and how they try to circumvent it. The central theoretical framework in this will be gatekeeping-theory, whereby personalisation through Facebook can be seen as a second gatekeeper above the news organisations. The bulk of my literature review still remains the same since I’m still talking about personalisation on the web, how Facebook works, the filter bubble and Algorithmic Awareness. The only difference is that in my last part I’ll be focusing on the producer side instead of on the consumer side.

So from all the things I talked about during my presentation on Thursday, a few things have fundamentally shifted. For that reason I’m actually not going to upload it, since I feel it does not represent the structure nor goal of my thesis well enough anymore


The Silent Majority

Read Nicholas’ readings about the silent majority and found them interesting!

It was fun to get an analyst’s view of how to reach this silent majority, for example, by
having anonymous surveys when dealing with subjects you’d rather not be too public about. I think that generally the term “Silent Majority” has a somewhat bad rep in this da and age, probably stemming from Trump supporters claiming the term by saying that “The Silent Majority stands with Trump” over and over, often putting this on signs at protests or posting about it on social media….Which is a bit ironic.

I’ve generally thought of the term as a way of saying that you, for example, disagree with current immigration laws etc. but don’t want to be vocal about it because of the backlash that often follows from, in my opinion, sane people.

So bearing this in mind, Nicholas’ readings showed me that from a data mining/analytical perspective the Silent Majority can be anything related to people “lurking” and not necessarily engaging in the same manner as the more vocal participants of, say, a message board.

On old message boards, before Reddit pretty much decimated them, you could always see how many people were on right now as “lurkers” or logged in, which I think maybe helped you to get a picture of  how vast the Silent Majority was.

Maybe something like that should be implemented on Facebook etc? So that whenever you’re browsing a comment field you could get an estimate of how many people were lurking and how many people were contributing. I’m sure Facebook already has algorithms for this, I mean, this is the kind of thing they earn money from, but it would be nice, I think, for vocal contributors to see that people are reading their comments so that the contributors don’t feel that they’re “shouting into nothing”, so to speak. It could prevent the growing tide of disenchantment with online discussion that I feel is growing–of course, it could just make it worse.