Tuesday 21 September 2010

Topic 1.1 - Music I Want My MP3

Read: Laughey, D. (2007). Music Media in Young People's Everyday Lives. In Music, Sound and Multimedia: From the Live to the Virtual (pp. 172-187). In E-Reserve.

This week we were asked to examine what the Internet has added to the musical landscape and what it did for music, consumers and producers.  We were given a reading and set a task of opening an account with a music discovery and streaming service such as Last.fm or Grooveshark, and reviewing the service.

I initially set up Last.fm but didn't find it very intuitive and didn't like the idea of having to install software on my PC to make it play so it was abandoned fairly quickly.  On the other hand, Grooveshark was much simpler to use and I found the concept interesting.  I was a teenager in the 1980's so back then it usually went like this:

- Hear a song on the radio.
- Setup cassette deck and sit next to radio every night waiting for it to come on so I could tape it off the radio, hoping the DJ didn't talk through the beginning or end.
- If I REALLY liked it, buy the record (you could buy cassette tapes but tapes stretched with constant playing so buying the record was like having a "master").
- Tape the record anyway, because the only record player was my parents and it was in the lounge room, and I had a tape deck in my room.

The Internet has resulted in many changes to the music landscape, including the way music is produced and distributed.  Digitisation has enabled music to be produced easily and inexpensively and, more importantly, allowed it to be perfectly copied and therefore downloaded and shared.  The creation of the MP3 file format in 1993 allowed songs to be reduced in size to a few megabytes, and the introduction of services such as Napster in 1998 enabled consumers to download perfect copies of songs for free.  These practices have consistently upset the music industry ever since and they have spent great time and effort pursuing individuals and sites for copyright breaches and the like; however, new technologies such as BitTorrent continue to emerge and now we are also seeing online music streaming services such as Grooveshark.  These sites are interesting from the perspective that consumers are sharing their own music but not distributing it - there is no downloading involved like there was with Napster - so it will be interesting to see how the music industry handles this.   Regardless, all of these new technologies have allowed consumers to have choice, to listen and share whatever music they want, whenever they want it, no longer at the whim of a radio station.

The different ways of sharing of music and musical preferences has also flourished with the Internet.  Sites such as Grooveshark allow users to create friend lists and playlists and share the music you're playing.  What was once private consumption is now public.  Additionally, social networking sites such as MySpace have also enabled distribution of music by artists, allowing them to distribute their own work without having to rely on traditional platforms.  In some cases this has even allowed new artists to be "discovered" online.  Fans can also "follow" their favourite artists in similar ways to the traditional "fan clubs", but the information is much more immediate.



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