Posts Tagged ‘media’

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Media technologies are additive

October 11, 2011

I’ve been watching the debate over Amazon’s e-book rental service, announced a few weeks ago. I can’t help but notice how it recapitulates the debate over streaming music.

Here’s a pretty normal day for me and music: I’ll listen to the radio in my car en route to work. I take my iPod, loaded with MP3s, to the gym. At my desk, I stream music via Spotify, or Last.fm, or by using ex.fm for MP3 links, or Hype Machine, or more. Or I stream more radio. On the way home, I listen to CDs (my car is too old to have an auxiliary input). I might stream Spotify to my phone as I walk out to meet friends for dinner. And I’ll put a vinyl record on when I come home.

Similarly, my office is full of text. Textbooks. Large-format coffee-table style books. My Kindle. Hand-bound copies of all of my theses. PDF e-books on my computer. Printouts of manuscripts to review. Bookmarks to online texts in my browser. Novels: hardbound, trade and pocket paperback. On my phone, Kindle and Instapaper.  Workbooks.

I recently downloaded a number of illustrations from Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 book, Kunstformen der Natur, from the Wikimedia Commons. They first existed as sketches, then engravings, then the lithographs that went into the book. Someone scanned the pages and uploaded them as high-resolution images, which I downloaded, opened in image-editing software, converted to greyscale and resized, and then downloaded to serve as the screensavers on my Kindle.

It’s a fallacy to think that the existence of one technology supplants another. Sure, technologies become obsolete. But as a user and a lover of the content (the text, or the music, or the images), I’m not interested in hurrying up the process. Different technologies have different affordances, and my primary interest is in being able to reach for the most appropriate one for my purpose.

[photo: lost box of tapes! by Flickr user wayneandwax, used here under its Creative Commons license]

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Music and advertising

December 3, 2008

appleipod

Here on z=z, we’ve written previously about the alliance of independent music and advertising. Bethany Klein, now a lecturer at the University of Leeds, wrote the book on it, literally -  her book As Heard on TV: Popular Music in Advertising, is scheduled for release in April 2009. It’s based on the research in her dissertation, and a paper that was just published in Media, Culture and Society, “The New Radio: Media Licensing as a Response to Industry Woe,” gives us a taste of her work.

As the title suggests, she suggests that the rise of music licensing (providing soundtracks for commercials and TV shows) is one way in which the music industry is hoping to hedge against the widely-feared, quite hypothetical revenue loss due to filesharing. Klein paints a portrait of cultural mores in transition: licensing one’s music for advertising has gone from being construed as ‘selling out’ to being widely considered a good way to get exposure. She suggests that this change in perception is a consequence of the deregulation and consolidation of commercial radio, and the subsequent loss of diversity in playlists. As Joe Pernice says, ‘It’s almost like commercial and television placement are the new radio.’ But as with commercial radio, Klein argues, the commercial imperative of corporations and TV shows is fundamentally at odds with artistic goals (even if music supervisors present themselves as saviours of independent music). And as licensing becomes increasingly accepted as a way for new bands to get exposure, it’s going to start looking a lot more like radio, with minimal licensing fees paid to the artist or even a pay-to-play model. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, MTV is leading the way, and Klein describes their astonishingly sleazy policy: if you submit a video to be considered for airplay, they reserve the right to strip the visuals and use the music as a soundtrack to its shows, without even paying a synchronization fee.

There’s a lengthy interview with Klein at policy website Miller-McCune, which also has a sidebar on ten famous (or infamous) uses of songs in advertisements. Klein’s paper is behind a paywall, but you can read the first page here and you might be able to ask a friendly neighbourhood academic for a copy of the PDF if you’re interested.

MP3: Iggy Pop – Lust for Life

[via Boing Boing]

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