Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sharing is Caring

How do you show that you care about something? You share it. It is not a crazy new evolutionary concept and music is no exception to it. Music was meant to be shared. You only have to look at the origins of folk music to realise how important it is to share and participate in musical story telling. The internet then, would have to be one of musics greatest friends of the 21st century. Its new DIY, collaborative new media technologies have allowed the average citizen to participate in the transformation and recirculation of media content allowing music to be shared in a variety of different ways and with a whole lot more people (see here). We all have the ability to be produsers.

The networked environment of sites like Myspace facilitate the sharing of music. Myspace users can add bands as friends, add songs to their profile which in turn can be added to another friends site and so on. Sharing is a never ending process, constantly being built upon as more and more people join the network.

File sharing on Kazaa, Limewire and Windows live messenger allow users to share files quickly and at no cost. Even the gatekept file sharing networks such as Itunes give people the ability to share music far more easily than the traditional model of purchasing cd's and lending them to friends. (See my blog post "Music 2.0. Get Excited!" for an interesting insight into the future of file sharing)

Citizen journalism also has a role to play in the sharing of music. Blogs such as Yelling about music, Totally Fuzzy and Indy alternative blog site Obscure sound share the latest music news that mainstream media neglect to tell us. They provide information for a niche set of music fans who can then comment and share their own thoughts and experiences. Perhaps even leading to collective intelligence.

The most brilliant part about all of these avenues is that they can then be linked together. A youtube post can appear on a myspace page, a blog site, an email or facebook, forming one huge network of shared content. I recently participated in this sharing and linking process. I loved my friend Liam Griffin's new film clip and wanted to share it with my friends so I copied the link from Youtube onto my blog site and provided further links to his myspace page. He just increased his potential fan base without even lifting a finger. Another example of networked collectivism is Baym's work on fan communities where it was found that fans build their community through a network of internet sites, each with its own specialised purpose and format. Music was shared through fans spreading their knowledge throughout the network.

In DIY communities music can be shared by both the musicians, the fans and sometimes hybrid produsers. It allows for niche, grass roots experimentation for budding musicians as well as a space for fans to interact and share their passion for music with others. Music was meant to be shared. The internet has allowed more ways to share than ever before. In a world without copyright laws it's a match made in heaven right?

Myspace promotional system not to be used in isolation

Response to The Explosion Blog post: "Is the Myspace Promotional System all it's hyped up to be?":

I agree with your thoughts on Myspace as a promotional tool. The ease of getting a myspace means that everybody can do it. In this new networked model we are all produsers. The problem with this is that it makes it harder to get noticed in the sea of budding musicians because people are being bombarded by friend requests left right and centre. When there is too much information to digest people lose interest and soon it becomes easier to decline friend requests or ignore them all together. However, there is definitely still a place for Myspace and i would not go so far as to call it 'hype'. Myspace now fills a huge gap that was left in the traditional business model. Myspace helps KEEP the fans.

Back in the day a band would, as you quoted Pearson, "starve in a van for a year at a time...driving across the country playing to 50 people every night", be seen and heard on tv and radio along the way and their cd would sit on a shelf in the record store. The problem with this is that none of these things offer continuous and ongoing promotion. The tour will come to an end, the tv and radio spot will last for ten minutes at most and the cd is a finished and packaged product unable to be reformed and changed. These promotional tools are over as soon as they began soon to be forgotten by their audience as they move onto the next concert, tv/radio show and cd. This is where Myspace can help. Myspace helps KEEP the fans.

On Myspace a fans interaction with a band is never switched off. Any time of the day or night you can log on and listen to their songs, comment and view photos. It is now easier for a band to form a fan base and even easier for that fan base to be expanded upon. For example, one night after a gig one of the support acts came up to me, introduced himself and gave me a promo cd. I went home and eagerly put the cd on only to discover that it didn't work. However, all was not lost. There was a magic little ingredient on that promo cd; a myspace address! This allowed me to go straight to his site and listen to all his songs, read his reviews, pictures and comments. I then added him as a friend, struck up a conversation and he is still to this day one of my good friends.

Like you, i don't agree with Pearson's argument that because of Myspace bands will never have to tour again. There is still a place for touring and radio interviews. History has shown us that old media never die out, it is simpy their functions and status that change (Jenkins, 2006 p13). Myspace, when used in isolation is not the worlds greatest promotional tool. There are simply too many bands vying for your attention. However, when used in conjunction with more traditional models of promotion Myspace is definitely all it's 'hyped' up to be.

For further thoughts on how Myspace is great for forming fan bases and keeping them see my blog post "Myspace is the way to go for the struggling musician" in response to Isha's blog post "The Long Tail: When will the music industry get it?".


Jenkins, H. 2006. Introduction: "Worship at the Altar of Convergence" in Jenkins, H. Convergence culture: When new and old media collide. New York: New Yoork University, 1-24.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Myspace is the way to go for the struggling musician

Response to Isha's blog post "The Long Tail: When will the music industry get it?":

Great post Isha. This is a really interesting topic. I agree with the comments eerin made. I was having a discussion with a musician friend of mine on this topic to see what his thoughts were, being an active participant in the music industry. He said that he makes more money from his gigs and merchandise sales than he does from his cd's appearing on the cd racks in HMV. The traditional model is no longer a feasible option (see here). Social networking sites like Myspace are the way to go. The personal and conversational nature of these online communities allow musicians to interact directly with their fans. Once a musician has charmed their online friend there is more chance of that person turning up to their gig. This is because the person feels a closer and personal connection to the music than they would from simply seeing a poster or reading about in RAVE. Once there, there is an even greater likelihood of them purchasing a $10 EP, especially when the musician is standing right behind the merch stand after the gig and recognises their face from Myspace.

The best part for the musician in all of this is that if a fan has a positive experience then human nature dictates that they're likely to tell their friends about it. This creates a snowball, viral marketing effect at absolutely no cost to the struggling musician!

Sharing is the essence of music. Myspace allows musicians a direct and personal way to share their passion and talent. It is this personal and open structure that is more likely to attract fans and KEEP them than the old and static traditional model of a cd collecting dust on the racks at HMV.

Citizen journalism has never been so important

Response to Ella's blog "Zeitgeist":

Wow! What a movie. I was truly blown away. Thanks for bringing it to my attention Ella, in a perfect example of citizen journalism. After viewing the film it appears that it has never been more important for the 'average' citizen to be critically engaged in the world around them. Citizen journalism is the perfect way to do this. There are no editors, producers or a biased government dictating what content is allowed on citizen journalism sites such as Indymedia and Plastic. The DIY, open and participatory environment of these sites allows anybody to post anything that they want on the internet. The average citizen has the power to gatewatch (Bruns, 2008 p74) over the traditional news process providing multiple perspectives on a news story as opposed to the one sided view forced upon us by mainstream media. Once posted, content is immediately available for communal evaluation by anybody saying anything that they want. The ability to facilitate public discussion free from the bias of mainstream media stories is one of the most powerful features of citizen journalism. The stories remain always unfinished and constantly under development by a fresh set of eyes (Bruns, 2008, p81). This represents a fundamental shift from the traditional media where only a small selection of writers and editors have the power to change and manipulate information. In the traditional model citizen engagement is sidelined to the "letter to the editor" format which is then only shown to the public at the whim of the editor. Citizen journalism is a way for us to fight back against the tyrany of the top. We need more "random acts of journalism". The power is in the people. They just need to use and take advantage of it for the greater good. Peter Joseph did it so why can't we?


Bruns, A. 2008. News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: Perpetual Collaboration in Evaluating the News in Bruns, A. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang. 69-100.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Is it really the rise of the niche nation? Or is it just easier to find bands to commercially exploit?

After reading Blogsauce's blog "It's a mad world" it got me thinking about when niche is no longer niche. For me the word niche equals unique or special. It is niche because it is not generally accepted by mainstream culture. I am a self professed music snob. As soon as a band gets noticed by the masses it's no longer special to me anymore. I'm no longer interested. In fact my love soon turns to annoyance and even hatred.

The interactive and participatory nature of the internet through online communities, DIY music production and file sharing networks, as well as media convergence across a variety of platforms including the proliferation of music into television shows and movies has allowed niche artists to gain a larger audience. But does this audience truly appreciate the unique and special nature of what they're listening to? When a band is popular with the masses they seem to lose a part of who they are. They're just another "hit" played 10 times a day on commercial radio, listened to by teeny boppers following the latest "hit" like sheep. Ironically, 106.9's slogan is "sounds different". What's different about it? All they do is play the Top 40 on repeat. That's not different. That's not niche. That's not unique.

There are countless examples of
when niche artists are scooped up by mainstream media and transformed into artificial shells of their former unique selves. Snow Patrol's rise to fame through the use of "Chasing Cars" in the Grey's Anatomy Season 2 Finale is one example. My cousin used to be a huge fan of Snow Patrol but has since lost interest because she was so outraged when people came into her music store the day after Grey's Anatomy and asked her "Do you have that song 'If i lay here...something something' ooh i can't remember it". It's offensive towards the band and what they represent when their rise to fame comes in such an artificial mainstream way. Mark Everett, better known as "E" from The Eels said that allowing the movie "Road Trip" to use his song "Goddamn right, it's a beautiful day" was the greatest regret he ever made in his career. "I didn't want this brand new song to be associated with a frat-boy movie, of all things. That's not a beautiful day, and not a good first impression for my new song and album." (Everett, 2008, p170). He said that the feeling of maintaining his integrity was worth more than the millions of dollars to be gained from "selling out" (Everett, 2008, p171).

Anderson says that we've entered the rise of the niche nation. However, to truly
"make it" in the industry musicians more often than not still have to conform to the "hit" style. Perhaps the bigges t sell out of 2007 was Kate Miller-Heidke. Take a look at her before andafter videos. The most ironic part about it is that one of her songs pokes fun at Australian Idol for producing artificially created musicians. On a recent tour in Brisbane, Melbourne up and coming musician, Whitley, introduced his song on NOVA 106.9 as "Hi i'm Whitley. You're listening to more spoon fed commercial crap for the masses". It's frustrating that for musicians like Whitley to really make it in the music industry they have to enter the "dark side" and participate in the mainstream culture that they hate.

According to Anderson "The Niche is now King". But is it more a case of the King being able to find the niche more easily and then turning it into the traditional commercial mainstream "hit"?


Everett, M. 2008. Things the Grandchildren Should Know. London: Little Brown.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Liam Griffin - "Until You Fall" Film Clip

Check out local Brisbane artist Liam Griffin's new film clip"Until You Fall". This epic song comes from Liam's EP "Pictures" featuring 5 beautifully crafted songs. If you like what you see/hear, feel free to comment on his myspace page. He'll love you for it :) Liam's playing this Sunday 11 May at the Powerhouse so if you're not too busy showering your mother with gifts then come along!

How do communites evaluate quality?

Citizen journalism is similar in nature to a peer assessment. Whereby, the quality of content is evaluated by individuals over time who then critique and build upon the existing information, in a snowball like effect. The more attention a post attracts (eg through comments or rating systems) the more credible and transparent a source becomes. It is through this peer assessment process that the reputation of a citizen journalist is built and the quality of the information produced is improved.

As humans it is in our nature to analyse and critique the information we receive. For example, Wikipedia, depsite being disputed as a credible source, studies have found that the information presented is generally accurate and of a reasonable standard (see here). Open participation allows a post to be freely and immediately evaluated by anyone. This may result in either positive or negative feedback, in effect rating the quality of the post. This process is constantly evolving, overlapping and interwoven. As Bruns (2008, 79) states, "citizen journalism is a clear example of fluid heterarchy, ad hoc meritocracy; a fundamental principle of produsage... The community governs itself through a constant process of mutual evaluation through peer commentary and criticism."

By Emma, Nat and Ella.


Bruns, A. 2008. News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: Perpetual Collaboration in Evaluating the News in Bruns, A. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage, New York: Peter Lang, 69-100.