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Short takes — The changing face of social media (4)

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Two interesting articles on social media:

  • First from Kyle Bylin of music industry site Hypebot.com on  how the pervasive use of social media to promote new bands is a double-edged sword, at best.

A New Age Of Extremes: Why The Social Media Hype Machine Kills What It Creates Too

An illuminating excerpt:

The emergence of the social web, one fueled by Tweets, status updates, and blog posts informs the same audience of what they should be listening to right now. This very minute. Artists that get caught in the stream, however delighted they are to be plucked from obscurity, oftentimes lack the resources to properly capitalize on their newfound stardom. Some have have the sites and the widgets. Some don’t. That or they’re just not mentally or emotionally ready to deal with it.

The slayer of these types of breakout artists—major label represented, indie, or otherwise—that same unfortunate paradox, is that the media hype machine that created them will likely kill them before it makes them stronger. Some may make it out alive. But, sadly, for most artists, the odds aren’t stacked in their favor.

 

  • And an interesting article by Jay Baer over at Convince & Convert on when the social media winners and losers will begin to appear — great opening line (see below). Baer predicts it will begin to shake out in about 18 months.

When Will the Social Media Losers Emerge?.

Today, social media is like a soccer league for seven year-olds: everyone gets a trophy.

The vast majority of press coverage and conversations around social media centers around the fact that businesses are DOING social media, not necessarily doing it EFFECTIVELY. Do you know why every article or blog post with even a scintilla of information about success metrics goes supernova? Because we’re still in the social media head-patting phase, and we’re handing out participation ribbons by the truckload. Thus, anything with real data snaps us to attention like a Taser. (read on)

Related Article:

Short takes — The changing face of social media (3)

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An email sent to iTunes users this morning touted its Ping music social network which “lets you follow your favorite artists and friends to discover the music they’re talking about, listening to, and downloading.” Unfortunately many independent artists are still left out of the conversation. That same email from Apple stated that just over 2000 artists were on Ping. This low level of artist participation is not, however, usually by choice. (from Hypebot.com)

Short takes — the music industry’s process of re-invention (@Hypebot.com)

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A great list from Kyle Bylin of Hypebot.com

12 Books That The Record Industry Needs To Read

Grab a book off the list and enjoy it.

image from tsaum.comOver the last few months, we’ve been asking some of the leading voices in our field to send in their summer reading lists for the Hypebot community. I won’t go as far as to say that this is a definitive list of the books that the music and record industries needs to read, but it’s certainly a good start. There’s a couple of great titles missing that I’ll try to call attention to in my own reading list. That is, when I get around to putting it together.

In this book, Johns explores the history of piracy and reveals that it is far longer and intertwined with our cultural lives than we had imagined. It explores the intellectual property wars from the advent of print culture in the fifteenth century to the reign of the Internet in the twenty-first. This title provides a needed context into the claims that the sky-is-falling on the recording industry and makes chicken little look like he’s been screaming bloody murder for centuries.

Communications scholar and online music fandom analyst Nancy Baym said itbest, “Like Kot’s book, this is a readable analysis of recent changes in the music industry, but where Kot focuses on case studies to make his case, Wikström offers a critical theoretically-grounded perspective and a rich analysis of the changing nature of the many industries involved in the industry.”

12 Books That The Record Industry Needs To Read:

1. Rework
by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

This book is written by the founders of the software company 37signals; it explores new ways of looking at working and living and challenges the behaviors we call normal. As well, the book gives a great overview into the reality of starting a company and the lack of resources that are needed with the proliferation of digital technologies and the emergence of the social web.

2. Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates
by Adrian Johns

3. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
by Seth Godin

Never one to mince words, Godin flat out tells readers that they are remarkable — that something that they do matters much, much more than they believe it does. After spending years in an education system that’s almost designed to squash out all creativity and uniqueness from people, preparing them for the ultimate corporate bargain, Godin urges us to wake up and use our full potential.  Not because we are some special butterflies, but because right now, in this instance, the world needs us to be remarkable and use those very talents.

4. You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto
by Jaron Lanier

Lanier has written a cautionary tale that challenges us to think about whether or not the web is transforming our culture and society for better or worse. He argues that we take every day technology for granted and don’t truly understand the biases of the mediums we use — that they were designed at very specific moments in history by people with specific intentions. The operating system that our world and computers work on is just one representation of reality and many minor design decisions in it have real and unintended consequences.

5. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age
by Clay Shirky

Whether you read this book shaking your head or nodding in agreement, Shirky provides much food for thought and interjects a theory about how the abundance of our free time could be used. In the digital sphere, we are active participates in our cultural lives and if we spend our surplus of downtime working on something that matters, rather than watching reruns of Lost, something great could emerge. If harnessed properly, we can produce value that benifits society as a whole and not just our own lives. Embbrace the chaos and don’t look back.

6. Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music
by Greg Kot

From the perspective of a music critic and journalist, Kot analyses the cultural and organizational shifts that underpinned the profitability of the record industry long before the proliferation of digital technologies revolutionized it. He weaves together a brilliant narrative about the decline of traditional social institutions and talks about how the young and the digital are redefining the roles of cultural creators and their art. Contrary to Knopper’s title, Kot explores the new music business from the musicians who shaped and changed it forever.

7. Fans, Friends And Followers: Building An Audience In The Digital Age
by Scott Kirsner

We talk about the DIY movement, but Kirsner goes into the trenches and gains insight into the careers of those whom are actually doing it and making a living off their works. Rather than relying on the gatekeepers of yesteryear, the people outlines in this book have gained access to the tools needed to produce, market, and distribute their work. This book features of range of interviews across a broad number of disciplines in the cultural industries; it provides practical strategies and resources for the reader to stand up and join the movement — if they so wish.

8. The Music Industry: Music in the Cloud
by Patrik Wikström

Communications scholar and online music fandom analyst Nancy Baym said itbest, “Like Kot’s book, this is a readable analysis of recent changes in the music industry, but where Kot focuses on case studies to make his case, Wikström offers a critical theoretically-grounded perspective and a rich analysis of the changing nature of the many industries involved in the industry.”

9. Mashed Up: Music, Technology, and the Rise of Configurable Culture
by Aram Sinnreich

I will admit, I haven’t read this title yet. So, I will have to leave you with the Barnes and Noble description: “Mashed Up chronicles the rise of ‘configurability,’ an emerging musical and cultural moment rooted in today’s global, networked communications infrastructure. Based on interviews with dozens of prominent DJs, attorneys, and music industry executives, the book argues that today’s battles over sampling, file sharing, and the marketability of new styles such as ‘mash-ups’ and ‘techno’ presage social change on a far broader scale.”

10. Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry In The Digial Age
by Steve Knopper

Knopper explores the rise and fall of the record industry through a people and executive driven narrative that gives insight into many of the organizational problems they faced. This provides a much more historical perspective into specific periods of time during the last few decades of popular music. He looks much more into the business side of recorded music than Kot and the many characters that drove it into the ground. This is a tale of short-sighted capitalism and greed and luddite ignorance, where Kot tells of the more music based story.

11. Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars
by William Patry

This book is still one of my favorites to date; it gives a scathing review of the cultural industries and tells how they often only want to give consumers what they want to give them — not what they actually want. It studies the language used in the Copyright Wars and gives an in-depth argument as to why those in the industries, whom piracy has been a problem for, tend to demonize their opponents, rather than answer the much broader question of why they refuse to innovate. Creative destruction is a force of change — lobbying government and issuing massive lawsuits are just methods to deny the future and hope that things stay the same forever and ever — freezing business models in the present.

12. Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music
by David Suisman

Suisman provides a much needed history of the rise of the commercial music industry, ranging from Tin Pan Alley to Black Swan, the first major black-owned record company, charting its immense complexity on the way. He tells of how music become a commodity in America and gives deep insight into the truth that the music that permeates in our everyday lives has much less to do with our preferences than of the deep pockets and marketing budgets and tactics that the record industry has employed for decades. In reality, it’s the music they want us to hear, not the other way around. Sadly for them, most of us quit buying it.

Written by Jeffrey Callen

September 16, 2010 at 10:52 am

Thinking about Research — Short Takes (2)

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The paradoxes of choice overload — another installment of Kyle Bylin’s series on the paradoxes of choice overload of cultural products (on Music Think Tank). The article uses the I-Pod as an example and applies choice theory to the analysis and how the I-Pod can make “maximizers” miserable and turn “optimicizers” into maximizers. [A short excerpt below]

Savor Your Music: The Effect of Abundance in Culture

III.     Overloaded With Choice

As you might guess, fans who exhibit the tendency to maximize their music experiences are also those who are the most susceptible to the paradoxes of choice overload.  When a fan is overwhelmed by the number of songs on their iPod; it will be easier for them to regret a choice if the alternatives are plentiful than if they were scarce, especially if the alternatives are so plentiful that not all of them could be investigated.  This makes it easy for them to imagine that they could’ve made a different choice that would’ve been better.  All the imagined alternatives then, induce the fan to regret the decision they made, and this regret subtracts from the satisfaction they get out of the decision they made, even if it was agood song.  It is, however, not the best song.  To consider the attractiveness of the alternative songs that they rejected causes them to become less satisfied with the one they’ve chosen, leading them to keep scrolling through their iPod.  The more songs they consider, these missed opportunities add up, and collectively diminish the amount of satisfaction they get out of the chosen alternative.

Music Industry Reading List from Dave Haynes of SoundCloud

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An installment of the series of summer music industry readings lists being published by Hypebot (for me essential music biz reading). This list if from Dave Haynes of SoundCloud.

Dave Haynes’s Summer Reading List (for the entire text). Below is an abbreviated version with my added keywords before each one:

(1) virtual reality, creativity, web 2.0

You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier – … best known as a pioneer of virtual reality, (Lanier) argues against many of the web 2.0 theories and … makes the case that these trends could stifle creativity, individualism and expression in the human race.

(2) art, creativity, self-expression, success

Linchpin by Seth Godin – Linchpin… argues that we must become indispensable, setting about our ‘true art’ rather than being content with being just another cog in the wheel. And that in today’s environment that’s not just desirable but actually vital, if we’re to succeed.

(3) web 2.0, technology, gin, sit-coms, creativity, media, social network

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky – argues that the critical technology that got everyone through the early phase of the Industrial Revolution was actually gin! People had to drink themselves into a stupor just to get through it. In the Post-Industrial Age the gin-equivalent has been the sitcom. The compelling argument here is that times are now changing. We’re no longer happy to sit back and simply consume. A new generation has started to watch less and less TV and use this spare time, this cognitive surplus, to participate and create. Whether it’s posting to Wikipedia, leaving comments on blogs, uploading videos to Youtube or creating lolcats, the fact is that things are getting more participatory and it’s easy to create and publish. Media is no longer a one-way street.

(4) inspiration

What Matters Now by Seth Godin – Godin… has compiled a really inspiring e-book with wise words from all manner of different people on ‘What Matters Now’. Contributions come from the likes of Fred Wilson, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Hugh MacLeod, Chris Anderson, Tim O’Reilly, Gary Vaynercuk, Jason Fried etc. It’s a very simple idea, get a bunch of smart people, ask them to write one short page on what they thing matters now, compile it into an e-book, then ask people to go and share it for free.

(5) fiction, music industry

Kill Your Friends: A Novel by John Niven – an extremely dark tale set in the late 90’s, at the height of Britpop, about an A&R guy working at a major label. It’s loosely based on the author’s own experience of working in the music biz and a murderous plotline is wrapped around tales of ridiculous A&R meetings, demands from artists and trips to music conferences such as SXSW and Midem.

Written by Jeffrey Callen

July 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm

The Music Matters “Trustmark”

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I can’t decide if this is a good idea or — given the changing revenue streams in the music industry — an effort to hold onto an outdated business model. You be the judge.

Music Matters is a collective of people across the music industry, including artists, retailers, songwriters, labels and managers, formed to remind listeners of the significance and value of music.

1. We all know that music matters: why is this initiative important?

We all know that music is important. But with music more available than ever before, it’s worth reminding ourselves of that fact. It’s easy to forget about the extraordinary lengths that performers, songwriters and musicians can go to record their songs, and the powerful effect music has on each and every one of us.

We believe it is important to support the artists and all those involved in making incredible music by choosing to consume music in an ethical way, and that’s why we’ve set up Music Matters.

2. What is the Music Matters Trustmark?

The Music Matters trust mark will act as a guide for music fans and help differentiate legal music services from illegal ones. Click here for a list of all supporting sites and look for the Music Matters trust mark when choosing new music.

When you choose sites carrying the trustmark you can be sure the site is legal and the copyright holders are paid for their creative work.

3. Why do we need a trustmark?

Globally, 19 out of every 20 tracks downloaded are done so illegally. In an evolving digital landscape, there can be confusion over which sites are legal. We think music fans would like to know that when the site that they are using is legitimate they are supporting the artists, musicians, songwriters and everyone involved in creating the music. (…read more at WhyMusicMatters.org)

And an insightful critical opinion of Why Music Matters from Associate Editor Kyle Bylin of Hypebot.com:

Why Music (Really) Matters…

When watching the series of short animation films released by Music Matters, a UK-based collective formed to “remind listeners of the significance and value of music,” I’m left with the overwhelming sensation that they are missing the point.

That, by trying to educate people on why music matters, in this manner, by exploring the work and lives of musicians past and present, and concluding with the message: “and that’s why music matters…,” they’re failing on a very fundamental level, failing to ask the real question, one that’s actually relevant to what they’re trying to get done.  Of course that’s why the music of Blind Willie Johnson, The Jam, Sigur Ros, and Nick Cave matters.  But why stop there?

If the core purpose of their campaign is to “remind listeners of the significance and value of music,” by educating and reconnecting them to that value through these short films. Then, in doing so, they’ve admitted to something important to our understanding of the shortcomings of their campaign: that not only is there an apparent disconnect between listeners and the value of music, but that the inherent value of music has, in some way, become disconnected from the music itself.  I’d imagine that this message is not exactly the one that they were hoping communicate to listeners.  So, now that we can see what’s troublesome about that message, how might they improve upon their question?

In order for their campaign to make the connection between listeners and the value of music, they need to understand that—in tandem with asking and exploring the question of ‘why music matters’—they should take things one step further and ask the question: why does music matter to people? (…to read more)

Written by Jeffrey Callen

May 3, 2010 at 7:44 pm

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