Long time no write, right?

It’s been a hectic time recently, and there’s plenty of news to get through, so here goes:

Last month, I graduated from Southampton University, having completed my Bachelor’s in Music with a First. In addition, I was awarded the Hazel Muras-Osborn Composition Prize, for “the best achievement overall as a composer on the course”. This prize took me totally by surprise, and an achievement I am very proud of. No doubt it will be a fantastic thing to have moving forwards.

Furthermore, it has been suggested to me by one of my lecturer’s that I submit an essay that I wrote for my final year to an Academic blog, before reworking it and submitting it to a full Academic Journal. Needless to say, I will be taking up this opportunity eagerly.

Following on from all that, next month I will be starting my Master’s in Music Composition, once again at Southampton University, lasting for a whole year. I’m very excited to start it, to focus more closely on my composition after three successful years of a wonderfully broad musical education. I’m especially looking forward to working more closely with the composers there – in particular, Matthew Shlomowitz, who I have already had much success in working with.

In addition to this, I am on the committee for SUStrings, the Southampton University String Orchestra, for 2015-16 in the role of Librarian. I hope to bring a new spin to the role and orchestra, by placing an emphasis on playing student works – either composed, or arranged. And in keeping with a tradition started last year, I hope to make the final concert of the year a soundtrack concert, for which I, as well as other members, have already started arranging a number of pieces.

Perhaps most excitingly though, I have been brought onto a game development team as lead composer. They have already begun work on the game, with a demo of some sort expected next year but a full development time of at least two years, meaning I have time to work on the soundtrack once my Master’s is completed. This is obviously a fantastic opportunity and I look forward to bringing you all more news as I get it.

In addition to all of this, I have a flat all to myself for this next year, and I am in the process of building a new PC (my poor old laptop is getting on a bit and I need the extra grunt of a desktop). With the privacy and extra processing power this gives me, I should be able to return to streaming composition on a more regular basis – and in higher quality! I’ll let you guys know as soon as everything on that end is sorted out.

If you’ve got this far, thanks so much for reading all of this! I promise the next update will not be as slow in coming along as this one was. Given everything that’s happened to me recently and is going to happen, I’m very excited for my future in composition.

For now, I’m just enjoying a sweet Disaronno on the rocks after a hard day’s arranging…

Disaronno on the rocks

Much love to you all,
Calum

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Addendum: Spotify

I wrote a comment on Anna’s blog about Spotify, and originally wanted to post this in full. However, I felt it best to cut down my comment into a much smaller, streamlined one. I wanted to keep my original post, so here it is in full:


Hi Anna,

I love that you’ve raised the topic of Spotify, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with your conclusions. Whenever an artist decides to pull music from Spotify or refuses to let their music be put on there, the response from Spotify is always the same “If people are listening on Spotify, at least they aren’t pirating it!”

Now, I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying this. It relies on three assumptions:

1) That pirating is necessarily a bad thing

2) That Spotify gives artists a liveable wage

3) That there are no better alternatives for artists

I find these to be severely misguided and I’ll tackle them one by one. Firstly, this article by Anthony Hill (http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/news/2013/05/piracy-downloads-130315 – seemingly my go-to article as of late) shows that piracy often leads to MORE album sales and not less. I know this from experience with friends and acquaintances who pirate as a way of “trying before they buy”. They are often those who spend the most on music, or if not, often say they would if they had more disposable income.

Secondly, Spotify still pays artists a ridiculously low rate per play. For the artists who are in the Top 40, that’s not a problem – the sheer number of plays on their hit singles mean they rake in the cash. However, take, for instance, the case of King Crimson – such a large, succesful and influential band must be able to make a lot off of Spotify, right? Well, Robert Fripp has never been a fan of Spotify, and thus only two tracks were ever made available on there. Between them, they garnered 618 plays, leading to Spotify sending a massive £1.61 (Yes, you read that right) to the record company (http://www.dgmlive.com/diaries.htm?entry=15629). The money then went through the company and had to be divided between the label and the band members. What was paid out to them is so little it’s not even worth calculating.

Honestly, if King Crimson can make so little money from their tracks, what hope do small, unheard-of bands have? 618 plays is probably about as many plays as such a band will acquire in a year, and that pittance can hardly be considered a liveable wage.

I did a little number crunching of my own to investigate. Even IGNORING the multiple £100+ collector’s boxes that I have bought from King Crimson, I have spent at least £100 if not £200 on King Crimson’s music. By comparison, I have listened to them over 5000 times in the last few years according to last.fm (and are my most played artist) which, after a few sums equates to about £13-14 paid to the label. In other words, I would have to listen to King Crimson for over 30 more years at the same rate to give King Crimson anywhere near how much I’ve paid for music (again, excluding the collector’s sets). And I will no doubt be buying more music from them as the years go on.

Spotify claim that people still buy CDs and downloads even when using Spotify, but I question this. From my own experience, a lot of people I know who once pirated and now use Spotify rarely, if ever, buy music any more. They believe that by enduring adverts or paying a subscription fee, they can sufficiently support the artists they listen to, because Spotify presents itself as an endgame and not as a stepping stone to further supporting the artist.

Now, there is no doubt that the playing field has changed. The old record industry model doesn’t work any more. But there are better platforms, in my opinion, than Spotify. I truly believe that Bandcamp, which I mentioned in my vlog this week, is a far better platform as it mostly cuts out the money-grabbing middle men, and allows artists to share music on their terms.

Sorry this is such a long rant but I hope it was at least interesting. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks,

Calum

The Curious Case of Cloudkicker (And Why It Should Matter To You)

UoSM2033 Topic 5: Explain the advantages and disadvantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online


This week’s blog post comes to you in the form of a vlog! Enjoy!


References & Bibliography

“Alex” (2010), Interview – CloudkickerThe Inevitable Nose.

“Benanne” (2010), Exclusive: Interview with Cloudkicker, got-djent.com.

Byrne, D. (2014), How Will The Wolf Survive: Can Musicians Make A Living In The Streaming Era?David Byrne

Crawford, D. (2012), Ben Sharp: ‘Music Has Become A Kind Of Diary For Me’UltimateGuitar.Com.

Hill, A. (2013). Illegal downloaders ‘try before they buy’. Broadbandchoices.

Kennelty, G. (2014), Cloudkicker Absolutely Okay With Label Printing Band’s “Unauthorized” Vinyl, Metal Injection.

Obstkrieg, D. (2013), On Isolation And Hopeful Loneliness: An Interview With Cloudkicker’s Ben Sharp, LastRites.

“OCR” (2012), Interview with Cloudkicker, Moosick.

Neilstein, V. (2010), Cloudkicker is back with Beacons, MetalSucks.

Sharp, B. (2010), Beacons, Cloudkicker.

“Wigg”, (2010), Wigg’s interview with Cloudkicker, MRU Forums.

On Youtube:

Interview with Ben Sharp aka Cloudkicker on Reostarter Youtube channel.

Cloudkicker Exclusive Interview | Metal Injection on MetalInInjection Youtube channel.

Useful Links:

Cloudkicker on Bandcamp

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported 

NO SHAVE NOVEMBER

IMAG0367[1]

As we’re now reaching the end of November, people may have noticed my slightly more ragged appearance than normal. I have been taking part in No Shave November, but due to a lack of proactiveness I didn’t have my own donation page. So what can you do to help? Simple, find someone else who has taken part in No Shave November or Movember and donate to them! Perhaps think about donating a bit more for me, too 😉  I’d personally recommend donating to my good friend Scott Hunter, because his facial hair is magnificently glorious (http://uk.movember.com/mospace/9714465).

The Megaphone & The Strawmob: Reflection

#GamerGate has been a topic which has seemingly only been able to be discussed in a particularly emotive and overly passionate way and it was refreshing to be able to air my own thoughts on the matter and discuss the matter calmly with Andy and with Nabeel.

I find it interesting that a lot of the discussion centred around what the #GamerGate movement could have done better. Andy suggested that those with legitimate concerns should have dropped the hashtag in favour of something else to rally under, whilst I suggested that it would have benefited from some form of leadership from very early on. However, in both cases, negatives were drawn – for Andy’s suggestion, the possibility of it actually being put into practice was questioned, whereas mine would arguably have changed the nature of the movement too far, to the point that it would have lost some of its key benefits. At this moment in time, then, it is obvious that there is no perfect solution to the problem, and this is something that, as citizens of the internet, we will have to seriously think about when it comes to future movements.

The discussion didn’t touch much upon how we, as individuals, should adjust our thinking towards such movements, but there was a fair amount of criticism levelled against the mass media and how it dealt with the situation. Andy’s point about the particular bias against gaming as a hobby was was excellent, and something I had not considered. Indeed, one only has to look at the extreme blame given to video games when it comes to mass shootings in America – even to this day – to see how much of a bias at least certain branches of the media have against the gaming subculture. Andy also commented on the media’s obsession with sensationalism when it comes to these stories,

“People having this [harassment, doxxing] done to them for no good reason is newsworthy, and unfortunately, legitimate protest about a legitimate issue is not.”

Indeed, both Nabeel and myself raised two previous examples from the offline world where the news coverage had chosen the sensational over the legitimate (Occupy Movement, Student Protests). This definitely suggests that this particular problem spreads wider than the internet alone, and we should also be questioning how and why the general media chooses to present the stories that it does and in the way it does. However, this is a huge issue that merits its own discussions elsewhere.


 Aside: Social Media Controversy

As no-one else had tackled issues like the Strawmob, I decided to investigate blogs who had talked about how businesses and business-people have tried to exploit situations on social media to their advantage. Adam’s blog post focused on companies’s exploitation of current world events to drum up interest, whilst Dom’s post focused on companies’s attempts to use “edgy” humour to do the same. In both cases, they showed a tendency for things to backfire, though arguably less so in Dom’s discussion – most of the “edgy” humour shown did not provoke outrage, and certainly did not “blow up” as in the case of the ‘Image from #Rochdale’ tweet that Adam referred to. However, I very much liked the fact that he questioned whether we should, in fact, be outraged by some of this humour, and also whether this sort of tactic is effective.

In both of my comments, I used the example of the Lotus F1 Team to illustrate my points – I found it interesting to look at the same media phenomenon from two different perspectives. On Adam’s blog, I opened up the idea of a moral “grey area” when it came to social media, especially due to its international nature. I was very glad to see that he really engaged with this, citing the Tesco horsemeat scandal as an excellent example of my point that I hadn’t considered. Most of my comment on Dom’s post could be considered to be arguing against the points that he raised, but I definitely valued the fact that his post made me consider the issue as deeply as I did, even if our conclusions were different.


References

Burgess, C. (2014), The Megaphone & The Strawmob: #GamerGate and Social MediaThe Progressive: Calum Burgess.

Johnson, T. (2013), Fox & Friends Hypes Flawed Link Between Mass Shootings And Video GamesMediaMatters.

Stiles, A. (2014), “Here, this will make you feel better” – Using tragic world events to promote business products through social mediaUOSM 2033 Living and Working on the Web | Adam’s Blog, Enjoy.

Uzoziri, D. (2014), How far will businesses go for free advertisement? Welcome To The Wild, Wild Web.

My Comments:

On Adam’s Blog

On Dom’s Blog