Saturday, May 22, 2004

Summer this.. 

In an attempt to further put off a horrifying journalism assignment I should have just about finished (and am, instead, only just starting), I'm going to venture slightly off-topic, in favour of a completely unreferenced ramble on online identities, inspired by Renee's recent post.

As someone who's been blogging and playing with site design for at least five years, now, the whole weblog thing is definitely nothing new for me. However, I've almost always been dealing with people I only know through online communication, personalities and identities that have formed behind random screennames and journals. This assignment is interesting in that there's the possibility that the people you're communicating with are people you'll meet - or have already met.. definitely a different spin on the world of blogging I'm used to. Every week, now, I go to the lectures and tutorials, wondering who my avid (and I use the term with great irony) readers are, who are the people I've found myself linking to, what is that particular person currently blogging about? There's still the anonymity, in that I doubt many of you know who I am, and I don't know who many of you are.. and yet, it's a much more vulnerable anonymity, the kind that can be broken through on any given Wednesday by a simple introduction.


To link that in somewhat with the topic of file-sharing, what are peoples' thoughts on the file-sharing community as an actual musical subculture? It's not a classic subculture in that there's no sense of style, no geographical location, not even a particular type of music for it to revolve around.. and yet it definitely sets itself apart from the rest of the music community, with its ideologies and beliefs. I'm not even sure what I think about it myself, yet, I think I definitely need to look through some earlier lecture notes to see how it relates to the classic subcultural theories.. perhaps it might be an idea to take a particular genre of music, and investigate how filesharing affects sales within the genre. I'm thinking emo, at the moment, as it'ss primarily an online subculture (at least in Australia, where radio stations are not freely playing emo records, and many emo publications are difficult to find in your average record store). And I still need to look into the idea that it's the labels, not the bands, that make money from album sales.. hrm.

Apologies to anyone who's read this entry and come to the conclusion that it's horribly tangential and makes no sense - consider it an attempt on my behalf to organise my thoughts further, instead of an attempt to educate and learn. Crazy blogs.

Friday, May 07, 2004

A rather lengthy way of reminding myself to look into this further.. 

I've found heaps of new articles over the past few days - it's so easy to get completely washed away in the flood of information on this topic - with such a current issue, it sometimes seems that the information at hand is doubling everyday! This week's MSTU2000 lecture on digital technologies seems to have caught the interest of many of my classmates, also, so it's great to see heaps of discussion on the topic across so many blogs at the moment!

To steal a source from Shane's weblog, the Harvard Business School have released an 'Empirical Analysis' on the Effect of File-Sharing on Record Sales. As a 52 page analysis, it's pretty intimidating, but it has some great information, diagrams, and statistics buried in amongst the algorithms and footnotes. The conclusion wraps it up beautifully (you can read it in Shane's entry if you don't feel like wading through pages and pages of academic text) - it is the basis for the arguments in my previous post that filesharing hasn't affected the film, game, or software industry, and also points out that a similar drop in record sales occured in the 70s and 80s, and that sales in the 90s may have been particularly high due to the release of CD format.

From this source, there is one point in particular that I feel should be highlighted with regards to my essay topic - the suggestion that artists are not losing money from the decline in record sales, as most artists aren't making money from sales in the first place - it all appears to go to the record labels.

Few of the artists who create one of the roughly 30,000 albums released each year in the U.S. will make a living from their sales because only a few albums are ever profitable. (Major label releases are profitable only after they sell at least a half million copies).

In fact, only a small number of established acts receive contracts with royalty rates ensuring financial sufficiency while the remaining artists must rely on other sources of income like touring or other jobs.

I feel I have a lot I could say on this point, but I'm going to find some more sources to back myself up before I go rambling on about what I don't know, which would otherwise just result with me putting my foot in my mouth. I'll set this aside as a future topic to investigate, though, as well as looking at this 52 page article in a bit more depth.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Filesharing - how does it affect the music industry? 

I've recently discovered p2pnet.net, an online database of all the latest news stories in the field of file-sharing. Much of the coverage is non-music related, but I've found several interesting articles on illegal filesharing - including one that boldly states that File swapping has zero effect on sales.

The article points out that "movies, software, and video games are actively downloaded, and yet these industries have continued to grow since the advent of file sharing", and that, as such, it is perfectly plausible that music downloads have not been responsible for drops in sales over the past years - a valid suggestion. In fact, it goes on to point out, that here in Australia, sales have reached a record high since filesharing became a popular way to acquire music - a rather embarassing discovery in an industry that's blaming filesharing and CD burning for declining sales.


Also interesting are a few of my classmates' research blogs. Matt Roberts is covering a similar research area to mine - the legal sharing of music, using digital technologies. Shane Fowles also promises to post about music downloads in his upcoming entries, and judging on his input in a heated discussion on the course weblog earlier today, it should be an interesting read. Less related is Kane Adrian's blog on pop music, but it's incredibly well-written and inspiring, I can't wait to see some similar entries from my other classmates! I love the forum that this media provides, it's such a great way to hear some new ideas from new people, I'm looking forward to see what happens over the next few months!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Glossary of Key Terms 

For my own sake, since I'm learning as much as anyone through this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to develop a glossary of some of the major terms I come across in my research, which I will leave open for adjustment as I come across new terms. I'll try and link back to it when I use some of the terms in future posts, for ease of reading for anyone who's not versed in the area. It will start off fairly insubstantial, but I hope to develop it over time!

Last updated Tuesday, 27 April, with definition for 'p2p'.

file sharing: According to the Google Web Definition, file sharing is "The sharing of files via the network file server. Shared files can be read, reviewed, and updated by more than one individual." With regards to music file sharing, however, it involves the connection to a file sharing program such as Soulseek or KaZaA, in order to illegally search for and download free music files, from a network of other users. First Monday have an in depth report on the subculture of filesharing which looks much further into this definition.

itunes: One of the most successful 'legal' mp3 download programs, in which you pay to download songs from a set catalogue of artists. The official Apple iTunes overview site goes into more depth on how it all works. iTunes is currently only available in America.

p2p: Peer to peer, one of the most popular methods of downloading digital music. The Google Web Definition is, "Electronic file swapping systems that allow users to share files, computing capabilities, networks, bandwidth and storage", which about sums it up. Programs such as Kazaa provide p2p by allowing users to connect to a central system/program, and download off each other from within it.

riaa: The MPeX.net Encyclopedia defines the RIAA as, "An alliance of the biggest record labels and companies from the music industry. The RIAA is the fiercest opponent of "wild" MP3 copying as it takes place today. The RIAA fights a lawsuit against the well known MP3 trading platform Napster and against the the well known site mp3.com".

Saturday, April 24, 2004

First post! 

Hi, welcome to my research blog on music activism, an area I'm not too well versed in myself, but am hoping to learn a lot about over the course of this blog.

I hold a strong belief that the downloading of music is something that supports, rather than harms, the music industry, and there are many websites around at the moment that share my beliefs. I'll be drawing a lot of my information from Downhill Battle, one of the leading sites in music activism, which will also provide me with readings and links to other sites in the area - I'm going to be using the site as a sort of base to come back to if other sources become dry.

To take a quote directly from the Downhill Battle website (found on their introduction page), "Music activism is political action that is working to make music and music culture better". It looks at the monopoly held by major record labels, the idea of copy-control on new CDs (especially prevalent on recent EMI releases), file-sharing and how it affects bands and labels, and other similar areas of the music industry. As this is just an introductory post, I won't go into any great depth, but the information is all there on the world wide web, and I plan to investigate it thoroughly over the coming months!

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