Category Archives: BCM240

Different Methods of Acquiring Music and Why We Use Them

I listen to music a lot, probably too much sometimes, in order to listen to all the music that I do I employ various methods. At home I may stream music from sites such as PandoraSpotify or even Youtube, on the go I listen to digital copies of music that I’ve brought or downloaded on my phone and in my car I have a collection of CDs that I listen to on the road. I often see articles claiming CD sales are decreasing despite Vinyl sales increasing, and that file sharing is an issue that music streaming will fix the file sharing issue.

Spotify

Lauched in 2008, Spotify is a browser based and downloadable music streaming services with social media capabilities. While Spotify is currently based in London, it has over 10 million payed subscribers worldwide. Music streaming services such as Spotify provide users with a platform to listen to music for free without specifically ‘downloading’ a digital copy. Spotify does allow users to download playlists as digital copies but for a subscription fee and with legal and digital restrictions on what can be done with the files. Spotify also allows users to share playlists with friends and has Facebook interconnectivity that producers can use as a marketing platform and users can use to discover new music.

Spotify vs File Sharing

There are various studies that streaming is deterring downloads from file sharing sites and others that claim there is no change. File sharing is not illegal and as long as it stays within the law, it is not harming anyone. The issues surrounding file sharing lie in the fact that it is done illegally around the world and on a large scale. The Recording Industry of America states that  piracy (illegal file sharing) is at a cost of 12.5 billion to the American economy. Piracy is a particular issue in Australia as our remote location leaves us with little other options to obtain foreign media. The idea that music streaming will prevent piracy stems from the fact that streaming music is also freely accessible and free to use but is safer and more controlled from a music labels point of view. This is a narrow view of the difference between streaming and file sharing taking a media effects approach that doesn’t consider an audiences context as to why they use the service they do to acquire their music.

About The Survey

Doing research on streaming vs file sharing I found there was a large focus on numbers such as number of downloads or paid subscribers and the cost and revenue of each service but overall, it was quite inconclusive if the rise of streaming services had any substantial impact on file sharing. In wondering why this was so, I asked myself, “In what contexts are users using each service and listening to music, and why does that impact on what users are doing?”. To this I created a survey on the site surveymonkey.com (The survey is here) that consisted of 10 questions asking responders about their frequency of use for each service, including file sharing, streaming, purchasing digital formats and purchasing physical formats, the reason that each service is useful or not to them and finally, if streaming curbs their file sharing, why or why not. The survey was distributed through various people’s Facebook feed and a few music forums.

Survey Results

Untitled Infographic

After 6 days of being live, the survey received 18 responses (Much less than expected but nevertheless there was still a variety of responses among the 18). As detailed in the above infograph, there is an even spread in responses who stream music online with reasons revolving around the ability to try music freely but bandwidth restrictions increase the cost of access to streaming services. This suggests that music streaming services are popular but the ability to save digital copies of music is the turning point. File sharing services aren’t particularly popular but when it is used, it’s used frequently, responses showed this was due to zero cost restrictions. While some responses noted that streaming services are made less desirable by ads it was overshadowed by cost concerns. Other mentionable points where that the results showed purchasing music in any format to be particularly unpopular, further supporting the suggestion that cost barriers are a strong influence in responses acquiring music. Answers to the question concerning streaming vs file sharing were unsurprisingly even, 54% of responses preferred streaming. Ultimately, directly purchasing music in any format is old news, consumers are looking for cheaper access all round. Market competition is now between streaming and file sharing. Some companies are embracing this, video streaming site Netflix is using piracy as market research in order to determine what to feature. Instead of fighting it, the music industry could learn to ‘use’ file sharing to it’s advantage.

Extra Research

As Catalano states in her article on music piracy, “Piracy is the lightning rod of the record business. Is used to explain declining sales, demonize file-sharing or, in some cases, lauded as a means to an end in that piracy leads to more record purchasing” (Catalano, 2013), groups such as the Recording Industry Association of America take a media effects approach to understanding file sharing and piracy by arguing that if consumers are getting their music for free, then they are stealing and that is harming the music industry. In fact, its much more complicated than that.

In this video Laci Green talks about how simply outlawing piracy is not going to prevent it. If we are to address piracy concerns that may be affecting artists and labels we need to make a smarter approach then getting rid of piracy, the internet is an innovative platform at the forefront of marketing and trend setting, utilising smart marketing and research tactics, other music providers may very well make themselves a great advantage.

References

Dredge, S 2013, ‘Is streaming music cannibalising piracy? Spotify Dutch study says Ja’, Musically, 17 July, viewed, 2 November 2014, <http://musically.com/2013/07/17/is-streaming-cannibalising-piracy-spotify-dutch-study-says-ja/&gt;

Adegoke, Y 2014, ‘Spotify now has 10 million paid subscribers, 3 million in the US’, Billboard, 21 May, viewed 2 November 2014, <http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/digital-and-mobile/6092226/spotify-now-has-10-million-paid-subscribers-3-million&gt;

2014, Who music theft hurts, Recording industry association of America, viewed 2 November 2014, <http://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php?content_selector=piracy_details_online&gt;

2013, Why there’s no stopping illegal downloading, online video, 24 August, DNews, viewed 2 November 2014, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbfL9hVVhK0&gt;

Catalano, M 2013, ‘Music piracy; major studie conflicted over recording industry impact’, Forbes, blog, 25 March, viewed 2 November 2014, <http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelecatalano/2013/03/25/music-piracy-major-studies-conflicted-over-recording-industry-impact/&gt;

Masnick M, 2012, Dear RIAA: Pirates buy more. full stop. deal with it, Techdirt, blog, 27 November, viewed 2 November, <https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121126/00590921141/dear-riaa-pirates-buy-more-full-stop-deal-with-it.shtml&gt;

Masnick M, 2013, Netflix Uses Piracy As Market Research, Isn’t Afraid Of It Because It Knows It Can Offer A Better Service, Techdirt, blog, 16 September, viewed 2 November, <https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130914/22561324519/netflix-uses-piracy-as-market-research-isnt-afraid-it-because-it-knows-it-can-offer-better-service.shtml&gt;

The Inner Workings of Hungry Digital Zombies

Over the period of BCM240, I have curated the blog “Hungry Digital Zombies”, in the last nine weeks it has received various minor alterations as well as a major visual redesign but I have consistently stuck to the aim of writing posts that can be read by anyone interested in media and communication with relative ease as seen in the tagline “A communication and media blog for the digital zombie in all of us”. Each post is a response to that weeks topic of a specific subject, in each post I try to address an issue, explore its implications and look at responses to the issue all while attempting to foster audience participation. When designing and later on maintaining the blog, I focused on aspects such as the format and language of each post, the visual design of the blog and audience participation, in such a way that the blog would be simple and streamlined almost to a minimalist level to allow for quick access and reading.

 The Writing’s on The Wall

As previously mentioned, posts in Hungry Digital Zombies are responses to weekly topics that attempt to address an issue in relation to the topic. Each post is written to maintain a pseudo casual atmosphere while being objective unless specifically expressing an opinion. I tried to reference and source as often as I could to a variety of sources for a few reasons. References and sources not only bolstered reliability but also linked readers to further readings, I tried to pick a variety of types of sources such as newspaper articles, academic articles and videos to avoid each post being just a block of writing. The use of headings further pushes ease of readability and has been noted by readers as being a great aspect that they do appreciate.

 Look At It

Research showed that the colours red, black and white in conjunction are often related with professionalism, I chose these colours for almost every visual aspect of Hungry Digital Zombies to keep a professional, reliable look about my blog. The header picture of each post serves as an eye catcher as well as aids readers in scanning for posts they are looking for or are interested in as opposed to menus and the twitter feed being a much shorter fraction of the screen to focus on the content of the post. The size and font of the writing in each post is chosen to be clear and again aids readers in scanning for specific information. When designing Hungry Digital Zombies I noted that people online often have shorter attention spans, don’t have the time to read articles in depth or are multitasking and may be distracted, to address this, I specifically designed my blog to be eye catching and streamlined for readers ease.

 We’ll Do It Together

From the beginning Hungry Digital Zombies has been linked to my twitter account @RalphiePeerless where I share articles relating to digital media and communication, this is mostly due to other university assignments but I do retweet interesting information from Youtubers, game developers and leaders in the tech industry. This integration with twitter allows for two way interaction with readers and among them outside of the comments box of each post. In the last few weeks (and a couple of other times in the past) I have encouraged readers to respond in an attempt to generate discussion around the blog for audience participation and blog publicity.

 It’s a Utopian Future

Hungry Digital Zombies has experienced steady growth in followers since its debut although nothing significant. Feedback has shown that the layout is appealing and that the content is easy to read as well as informative but in the future I would like to develop consistency in the regularity of posts. Audience participation has shown minimal results (Which is expected with the size and type of readership) although I may continue the weekly questions and encouraging people to reach out to me and other readers as well as tweeting on a regular basis. On a larger scale I would like to work with other bloggers to create a network in order to more deeply explore topics and possibly follow news stories.

 We’re Not There Yet

Overall I see Hungry Digital Zombies as the fully realised blog I wanted it to be. As the tag line reads “A communication and media blog for the digital zombie in all of us”, this statement identifies that this blog is solely focused on ideas in media and communication, and that it’s tailored for a wide range of audiences. Hungry digital Zombies effectively works for audiences by allowing for easy accessibility and readability. At this point, HDZ is far from complete and will most likely undergo many more evolutions all for the better.

The Aussie Film Dilemna

This week we’re looking at why the Australian film industry is struggling. What’s wrong? Well, statistics show that Australians aren’t responding well to Australian made films, as swift mentions, “Our biggest Australian films are treated by overseas audiences the way the majority of our films are treated by local audiences: with indifference“. Swift is suggesting that it’s not about the quality of the films, in fact a lot of Australian films have found box office success, the issue lies elsewhere and that is what we’re trying to find this week.

The Problem In Detail

The Australian made film “These Final Hours” was expected to be successful, it was an ambitious project to compete with bigger Hollywood films and it did get quite good reviews but unfortunately while it expected to make $1 million in box office sales in the first weekend it only reached a reported $207,000, considerably less than what could be considered successful.

Seeing the trailer for These Final Hours, I was interested and wanted to watch the movie but this brings me to the first issue, inability to find these films anywhere. Aside from enormous Aussie hits such as The Great Gatsby, The Sapphires or Red Dog, Australian movies seem to be isolated to independent screenings in a few selected areas, I visit my local cinema quite often and I can tell you, I didn’t even hear of These Final Hours. For people like me who can’t really afford an expedition to an independent cinema to watch one film, we’re kind of forced into piracy. As I wrote about in a previous post, the ability to go to the cinema hinges on time and physical capability, things many Australians don’t have especially if you don’t live in big coastal cities.

I’m on the internet probably for the better half of my day and so I often hear of films that interest me before they’re advertised in cinemas or on tv but somehow These Final Hours flew under my radar entirely. This brings me to my second point, Australian films often have a lower budget than bigger Hollywood films and so there is less advertising leeway. Films benefit a lot from hype built up around social media but Australian films appear to have such a weak social media presence. Either by unimaginative campaigns or people not sharing posts because of a lack of necessity.

How We Turn This Around

File sharing and piracy is such a big issue in Australia often because we have no other option. Cinema tickets are becoming more and more expensive and Cinemas aren’t able to show every film worth seeing at the time. In the United States, streaming is a very popular method for accessing the media you want when and wherever, if Australia is not going to invest in better internet to allow for reliable streaming, I suggest that film makers look into distribution tactics that embrace file sharing such as federally funded file sharing. One such tactic could involve intentionally sharing content for free through torrenting or sites such as Youtube then once an audience has been generated, move to a paid platform such as cinemas or paid tv.

In this article Don Groves suggests ways to which Australia could better promote it’s films. Grove writes:

“Utilize social media and content marketing as a low budget way to build awareness and advocacy for Australian films. Social media is an essential tool for combating Hollywood’s domination of the Australian media landscape as it provides filmmakers a way to reach audiences on their own terms” (Groves, 2014)

Groves identifies that reaching out to the audience is raising awareness of the films and so more people are likely to spend money to see them. I’d like to add to this by suggesting campaigns that motivate the spread of awareness such as competitions or witty hashtags would allow Australian film marketing to reach people who aren’t looking for Australian films and raise awareness credibility and hype.

This week, hit me up on twitter @RalphiePeerless and let me know, what’s your favourite Australian film, where did you see it and how did you hear about it?

Be The Regulator Within You

Although my father is quite lenient with technology in the house, the one rule he enforces time and time again is not having headphones in when I’m outside of my room. Since the rise of digital technologies people have desperately tried to control it and everyone’s usage of it more often than not due to a general fear or misunderstanding of technology.

I Can’t Hear You, I’m Isolating Myself

As Sturken and Thomas identify, new technology is a primary platform for unloading our deepest social fears and and exploring potential for the future. A common example of this is of parents regulating the media their children consume in the fear that it will corrupt them morally or harm them in one way or another. In the case of my household, the rule of not wearing headphones outside of private time is intended to ensure a classic ‘family’ mentality. Even if we’re not currently having a discussion, my dad will make sure I’m not wearing headphones because he believes it isolates myself from everyone around me. This rule only applies within my home although there is public concern for the safety of people who cross roads with headphones on. These are separate example where media regulation is a necessity and when it’s the exercising of social fears.

Earlier this year my 14 year old sister came home from school asking me what Game of Thrones is because everyone in her class is raving about it and it sounds cool. I was astounded, usually I’m easy going with letting my sister watch what she wants but 14 year olds watching and loving Game of Thrones was a little much for me (To clarify, this is the only thing I actively forbid her from watching till she’s older that she wants to watch, I’m not mean I just don’t think my sister is responsible enough to comprehend the adult themes of the show). Censorship towards younger audiences is an example of the social fear of media morally corrupting youth.

Full Force Enforcement

In the case between me and my sister where I don’t allow her to watch Game of Thrones, it’s only really enforce by me asking her not to and having to trust that she respects my wishes but on a larger scale there are bureaus in charge of regulating what we see on tv and radio that categorize shows, songs and ads into ratings categories and responds to public complaints on a regular basis. This further emphasizes the public fear that offensive media will desensitize our youth and morally corrupt them.

In interesting thing to note is that the ratings placed on media by regulators are almost always age restriction suggestions and imply that within your own home you choose what you consume suggesting that lawfully we are responsible for our own media consumption within out own homes but outside the home there must be a general consensus on what is considered appropriate or not.

This week, tweet me at @RalphiePeerless and let me know, Are there any shows or ads that you aren’t allowed to watch or you don’t allow others to watch?

Multi-tasking: The Worst Thing Ever?

when doing research about multitasking I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the supposed negative downsides to performing multiple actions at once. “Pleasantly” only because I personally find it near impossible to really multitask.

And The Winner Is…

A study by Professor Clifford Nass published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that contrary to popular belief, multitasking isn’t actually a good skill and suggests that multitasking may hinder various cognitive responses. The study focused on media multitaskers, people who commit to multiple media based activities at a time for example; responding to emails while talking to someone on the phone. Various basic tests found that media multitaskers were more easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli than people who tackle media tasks one at a time, where less capable of switching between tasks, displayed less concentration and had lower performing memory.

Taking a critical look t how the test was done I found the 100 people sample size wasn’t particularly big, especially when it was split into two groups representing each variable. A larger sample size would’ve been more reliable but the results appear fairly defined. Individual tests were used to test individual cognitive action which, again, I think is a somewhat unreliable sample size but nonetheless the results of each test appear fairly defined.

Overall, the test seemed to show that multitasking may be detrimental to a person. Multitaskers train themselves to not respond strongly to any particular stimuli and so they lose the ability to concentrate or focus on specific tasks.

I’m Safe… Maybe

I thought about my media usage and initially thought that my cognitive functions should be relatively fine (disregarding the long nights staying up to do uni work) but on closer inspection I media multitask more than In notice. For example, I check social media on my phone and respond to messages occasionally while watching TV or Youtube, I read tweets that are coming in while I write my own, in fact, I’m listening to music while writing this post right now (I can practically feel my brain rotting).

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

I find that I often don’t have time to do all the things I need and want to do in a timely manner. At work I need to multitask in order to get things done in time or all chaos would ensue. As apparently harmful multitasking is, it may just be essential in this information age where everything needs to happen five minutes ago and no one thing can take priority. Much like anything else in the world, I guess balance is the key. Aristotle believed that virtues are an appropriate balance of vices (Courage is between rashness and cowardice), perhaps efficiency without laziness is a modern virtue we must learn to adopt?

Anywhere Can Be Public

In today’s information age where everyone has a portable device and every portable device has a camera and images taken by those cameras can be uploaded to the internet for anyone to view, any space has the potential to be globally public. The general consensus of what a public space is involves physical openness as seen in the American Planning Association’s list of what’s considered ‘public space’, and accessibility by anyone of all cultures, gender and age. On the other hand, what’s considered private space is little more obscure. Legally, it would refer to space owned by a particular person that is not accessible by the general public. This is where mobile devices come in.

Public Place Can Be A World Stage 

The above video is of a Broadway cast singing ‘The Circle of Life’ recorded on multiple mobile devices and uploaded to Youtube. At the time of this blog post, the video has received almost eight million views from around the world. This video illustrates how people who thought they were being somewhat private (keeping to themselves) in a public space and suddenly they’re more public than they could imagine. All over the web there are numerous videos, vines, photos and gifs of public or private spaces that have become somewhat openly accessible by anyone on the web, whether the people in them want to or not.

Twitter Is a Private To Public Converter

One of the most common applications on mobile devices is twitter. Twitter allows users to post micro posts of 140 characters and over time it’s developed into a place where people share thoughts, images of food and things they’ve done. This system serves as a platform for making private interactions, public. The portability of modern mobile devices and the new dynamic of being ‘always connected’ means that at any point we can turn any private interaction, place or object into a public artifact for anyone to freely access.

Let’s All Go To The Cinema

This week I was tasked to going to the movies. I know, right? How easy. Well… Not really. For some people going to the cinema has its rituals and depending on how you like watching movies, cinemas might not be your cup of tea. Personally, I’m generally cynical towards going to the cinema for reasons I’ll go into later, this time I was pleasantly surprised.

The Three Constraints

Torsten Hagerstrand is a pioneer in human behavior in temporal and spatial terms. He proposed three constraints that affect human behavior, capability, coupling and authority. Capability refers to the limitations on physical movement, coupling refers to  the relation between space and time. Being somewhere at the right time. Authority refers to the limitations of being allowed in a space. these three in conjunction  can be used to analyze how people go to cinemas and why we may be reluctant to go.

A few days ago I went to see “Guardians of the Galaxy” with my partner. We went online to decide a time to see the movie, fearing that we may not be able to see it at all if it didn’t coincide with our time off but we were lucky. This was the first example of a capability constraint I noticed. Personal timetables can be a serious limitation on whether people go to the cinema or not. In order to get there we had to catch a bus into town, fortunately there’s one every twenty minutes between where  was going and home. This was the first coupling limitation we faced, catching the right bus to be there at the right time. When we got to the cinema we purchased our tickets (I forgot I was a student and subsequently spent more than I should have on full price adult tickets), once the tickets were bought and paid for we were ushered into the cinema and were given the freedom to sit wherever we wanted, at this point I was thinking about how lucky we were to be given free choice of the seats, especially as there was no one else in the cinema at the time. The ticket and where we could sit serve as a neat example of authority limitations. We where allowed in the cinema because we had tickets and we could sit anywhere because no one told us we couldn’t.

No One Goes To The Cinema Now Anyway

statistics show that, while cinema attendance is in decline, its only a minimal amount. Going to the cinema to watch a movie is still a very popular past time in Families and young adults. Even though advancements in technology have brought about home movie systems and the ease of downloading films encourages binging sessions, I believe that going to the cinema will maintain popularity of the experience. In the same way that we may like to play our favourite song on nice speakers out loud some people like to experience films in the overwhelming atmosphere that a good cinema can bring. It’s no longer about the movie itself it’s now more about all the smaller things a cinema brings.