A Final Reflection…

A Final Video To Round Off The Module!

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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 

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

The Megaphone & The Strawmob: #GamerGate and Social Media

UoSM2033 Topic 4: Discuss one of the ethical issues raised by educational or business use of social media that you consider to be particularly significant


GamerGate is a complicated issue. There are many facets to every aspect of it, especially its very nature, but this makes it, as a phenomenon on social media, particularly interesting to examine. I have prepared an audio post to give a brief overview, which you can listen to here (Click through for transcript):

Now, what you must bear in mind is that, despite the “battle lines” supposedly being drawn between consumers and industry professionals, a large number of consumers actually fell on the “Anti-Gamergate” side, rallying around journalists or developers whose works they particularly enjoyed, such as Quinn, Sarkeesian or Wu. We can see quite clearly that these personalities used their followings on social networks like a sort of Megaphone to tow an Anti-Gamergate line. Twitter is particularly effective because of the power of the retweet, which allows statements to be spread quickly and easily around Twitter, far extending the reach of a short, 140 character statement as Jeff Bullas explains.

Meanwhile, the Pro-GamerGate forces, for a long time, had little in the way of figureheads, and so had to use sheer numbers to gain influence. John Bain (aka TotalBiscuit) lays out this asymmetry and its inherent problems in this discussion (5:35 to 7:10):

The fact that “people band together out of necessity” forming “a melting pot of ideals” is a double-edged sword, because whilst, as Bain states, “it is folly to try and label it and decry it as one set of ideals”, it means that the movement itself loses focus on its aims. This is dangerous, because it becomes very easy for someone with a megaphone to take one particular facet of the movement and create a strawman out of it: the Megaphone uses its influence to turn a movement into a “Strawmob”, making it easy to attack. After all, it is quite easy to denounce death threats and doxxing, but quite another thing to suggest we shouldn’t be reassessing the relationship that game developers have with game journalists:

Sentiments expressed in such ways as this tweet by Anita Sarkeesian ultimately lead to misdirection for the general public via wider media. The very fact that I found it hard to find a neutral overview of the GamerGate phenomenon is testament to this; even the Wikipedia entry, most people’s first port of call when investigating such topics, describes GamerGate thusly:

“The Gamergate controversy began in August 2014 and concerns misogyny and harassment in video game culture. While many supporters of the self-described Gamergate movement say that they are concerned about ethical issues in video game journalism, the overwhelming majority of commentators have said that the movement is rooted in a culture war against women and the diversification of gaming culture.”

Meanwhile, mainstream news outlets focused their attention almost entirely on the harassment aspect of the whole debacle, going as far as to only invite those who stood against GamerGate into discussions:

Whether they meant to or not, many of the people arguing against GamerGate have been stifling legitimate topcs of discussion. This is worrying.

Thankfully, people such as John Bain and Jim Sterling have been proactive in bringing the issue back to ethics in journalism. Bain in particular, with his over 376,000 Followers on Twitter, has become a Megaphone for many to rally around, with his extended use of Twitlonger, Soundcloud and Blogspot (ignoring his main focus on Youtube) which all feed into his Twitter:

There is no doubt that a consumer movement such as GamerGate and the positives that have emerged from it could never have happened without social media. Hashtags are vital for bringing people together, whilst, as Professor Julia Hörnle asserts, the online resolution of disputes empowers consumers in a way never seen before.

However, if we are to embrace this new power for consumers, we must be wary of the power that Megaphones hold. The issue of Ethics in Gaming Journalism thankfully gained its own Megaphones, eventually, but what happens if a future issue has no Megaphones on its side? What if no-one with influence stands up for it whilst the Megaphones of, say, a large corporation, reduce it to a Strawmob?

Mike Diver asserts that “what might have been a turning point for the games industry… has been hijacked by lunatics with Twitter accounts”. However, they were only allowed to hijack it because of the amount of attention that was given to them. Yes, these “lunatics” did exist, but in such huge movements as this, there always will be, as John Bain calls them, “lone online psychos”. The actual damage was done by those in the opposition who made these “lunatics” the focal point.

If GamerGate was the first test of a social media based, entirely consumer-led movement, then it was surely a failure. Without a leader, it was perceived as having no credibility by being reduced to its lowest common denominator. We must therefore re-assess how such movements operate and how we perceive them if we are to prevent future consumer concerns from being stifled out in this way.

Look beyond the Strawmob.


References & Bibliography

Bullas, J. (2012), The Explosive Power of the Retweet Revealed by Twitter, juffbullas.com.

Diver, M. (2014), GamerGate Hate Affects Both Sides, So How About We End It?Vice.

Hörnle, J. (2014), How does online dispute resolution empower consumers?, Queen Mary, University Of London Blog.

Kirkpatrick, D. (2011), Social Power And The Coming Corporate RevolutionForbes.

Wikipedia contributors (accessed 23rd November, 2014), Gamergate controversyWikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

On Youtube:

#GamerGate Crush Saga: Episode One on Erik Kain’s Youtube Channel.

MSNBC The Reid Report on #GamerGate (Brianna Wu) on Video Game Journalism (YTheAlien)’s Youtube Channel.

#GamerGate: TotalBiscuit on Ethics, Was Offered Free Stuff for Reviews on David Pakman Show’s Youtube Channel.

#GamerGate: Brianna Wu Accuses Interviewer of ‘Hit Piece’ Attack on David Pakman Show’s Youtube Channel.

I will now ramble about games media for just under 30 minutes on TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit’s Channel.

I will now talk about game reviews for just over 30 minutes on TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit’s Channel.

Ethics in Games Media: Stephen Totilo of Kotaku comes to the table to discuss on TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit’s Channel.

On Twitter:

John Bain – Totalbisquid (@Totalbiscuit)

Anita Sarkeesian – Feminist Frequency (@FemFreq)

Ch-ch-changes: Reflection

Whilst working on this blog post, it was immediately apparent to me that for different people, developing one’s professional online profile would be a very different task depending on what one was trying to achieve. I found Jess’s blog post a particularly noble attempt to create a checklist of steps for anyone to take in developing your profile – everything she wrote would be of use to anyone trying to utilise social media. I found her first point, in particular, “Decide what your goal is”, to be very valuable, as there is little point in pursuing a direction with your profile which does nothing for, or in fact hinders, the objective you are trying to reach.

I did, however, feel that it was slightly short, perhaps missing out some important points as I mentioned in my comment. In particular, I felt there was a lack of emphasis on interaction, which Nabeel also mentioned in his comment, though in a more specific way:

“you didn’t mention the ways in which we as potential employees can engage with [employers] or attract them to our profiles.”

Whilst I disagree with the specificness of the comment when compared to the ultimate aim of Jess’s post, I believe that Jess could have touched further on a general level as to how one’s profile might attract and engage one’s desired audience (In Nabeel’s case, employers).

Charlie’s blog post took a very different direction, looking at a more specific aim: building brand. His discovery of BrandYourself was of particular interest and I definitely plan to use it in the future. What I found particularly fascinating, though, as I stated in my comment, was that so many blog posts focused on LinkedIn and Twitter for development of business based profiles. Twitter’s popularity in particular, I was somewhat surprised by, and Charlie summed up the reasons for its usefulness very neatly in his response:

“Twitter is a really well sorted way of debating and communicating, and I’m convinced the 140 character limit, the way the timeline is chronologically sorted and how easy it is to use is the reason it is perceived to hold so much potential.”

I did find the article that he linked to be very interesting, however, with Twitter bringing in more Facebook-like features. It shows that, despite the popularity of Twitter within communities such as ours, Twitter still believe they can expand their userbase into Facebook’s territory. It will be interesting to see whether they can do so whilst maintaining the website’s strengths and not introducing any sense of “exclusivity” (as Charlie aptly put it) that can be inherent in the nature of Facebook.


References

Austin, S. and Koh, Y. (2014). Six New Features to Expect From Twitter Digits on WSJ.

Burgess, C. (2014). Ch-Ch-Changes: Developing Your Online Profile The Progressive | Composition and Academia Blog of Calum Burgess.

Mason, C. (2014). Developing Your Brand Charlie Mason: Politics & International Relations Student at the University of Southampton.

Peacock, J. (2014). Have you heard of me, and if not why not? Jessica and the World Wide Web.


My comments: On Charlie Mason’s Blog

On Jessica Peacock’s Blog