A Final Reflection…

A Final Video To Round Off The Module!

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A Curious Case of Reflection: Free Content Models

Another video to reflect on discussions around Topic 5. Check it out:

References:

Jaya, H (2014). Free-To-Play-To-Win. dinj18hoursaway.

Kent-Muller, A. (2014). Spotify: Decreasing Piracy Or Diminishing The Music Industry? Anna Kent-Muller | Digital Humanities enthusiast.

My Comments:

On Din’s Blog

On Anna’s Blog

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 

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

Ch-Ch-Changes: Developing Your Online Profile

In my last post, I covered the advantages and disadvantages of multiple online identities, and briefly mapped out a model ideal. However, holding what I describe as a “strong” identity is only a starting point: one’s online profile must be developed to take full advantage of it.

UoSM2033 Topic 3: Discuss the ways in which an authentic online professional profile can be developed


There are countless ways to grow one’s online profile and I will analyse these though my eyes, those of an independent musician, looking at the experiences of other musicians.

WHAT DOES AN ONLINE PROFILE DO FOR A MUSICIAN?

Take a look at these two videos:

 

Both videos feature people who have been extremely successful through their online profiles. Gary Vaynerchuk’s has allowed him to develop a public brand (enabling the creation of new media, books etc.) whilst MatPat’s Game Theory series served as an online portfolio and enabled him to secure a job.

I would argue that the successful independent musician requires even greater interplay between their online profiles and offline selves than these examples; selling your music, as an extension of yourself, to your audience, the public, rather than selling yourself as a product to companies.

As I stated in my last reflection:

“The objectives of the online artist… should be audience expansion and audience retention.”

Feedback Loop

Fig. 1: The Audience Feedback Loop

My concept of the “Feedback Loop” is shown above; it displays the four main ways a musician develops relationships with audiences, and how these “Feed Back” into one another. Creating flow around the diagram retains and expands your audience by engaging them. Whilst the quality of your music, your performances and merchandise are minimally affected by the development of your online profile, your general profile and interaction with your audience are most certainly enhanced.

So, how do we make this a positive impact?

1) BUILDING BRAND

As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic states in The Future of You,

“We are all individuals, but unless we are also a brand, our individuality will be invisible. Being a brand means showcasing that which makes you special, in a way that is distinctive (recognizable), predictable (consistent), and meaningful (it allows others to understand what you do and why).”

So, how do we manage this? Take the example of Adam Pacitti’s infamous EmployAdam campaign. A large part of its success, as Art Jonak states in his analysis, is that “Simple Sells”.

I adhere to this by employing the same graphics across my online profiles (See Fig. 2 & 3), and using a consistent colour scheme. The images represent who I am (Portrait) and what I’m about (Music – from one of my pieces).

Profile Picture

Fig. 2: My current Profile Picture, which I use on all of my profiles

Cover Image

Fig. 3: My current cover and background image

These two images are now almost as synonymous with me as my name, and username MistmanX, which I hold almost exclusively across the web (Fig. 4).

MistmanX Search 08/11/14

Fig. 4: First Page of Google Results for “MistmanX” (08/11/2014) – All but one result is about me, though admittedly some others are not relevant to my music

2) POSTING CONTENT

The music industry has changed. People want to “try before they buy” (Hill). Record companies are no longer the most important ears to reach. Your AUDIENCE needs to hear your music.

The other major strength of Pacitti’s campaign was directly showcasing his skills; his video “cleverly weaves in his resume” (Jonak). This is really important, and, with dedicated platforms like YouTube and Bandcamp featuring easy integration into Facebook and Twitter profiles, there’s no excuse not to.

3) BEING GENUINE

It is, however, important that your social media does not appear to just be an online marketing campaign. Ari Herstand makes good points in his article, but of most interest here is his last point:

“…fans want to get to know you on an intimate level. They want to live vicariously through you.”

Whilst his final point is perhaps at the extreme end of this thinking, it is important that your personality comes through in your profiles; this is why I do not hesitate to tweet about Formula One or Video Games, and why Jørgen Munkeby’s Twitter profile is one of my favourites (See Fig. 5). Tweeting or retweeting about spam email, memorial concerts or strange art in his hotel, expands his personality beyond

“Singer/saxophonist/guitarist/composer for the Norwegian Blackjazz band [Shining]”

making him more relatable and engaging his audience.

Jørgen Munkeby on Twitter

Fig. 5: Jørgen Munkeby on Twitter (08/11/2014)

4) INTERACTING

Ultimately, Social Media is just that; social. Numerous articles tackle this issue, from Dave Kusek’s on Hypebot to Joshua Smotherman’s on Cyber PR Music. The benefits of interacting openly with your followers are varied: adding a personal touch, allowing instant feedback and, perhaps most importantly, forming a community around you and your music.

The band hAND have an excellent conversational style on Twitter, actively inviting interaction from fans (See Fig. 6). My Twitter interactions with them made me even more interested in their music. Furthermore, and as a consequence, I went on to recommend them to friends, and they gained information from me, to guide them towards a new potential venue (See Fig. 7).

Fig. 6: An Excellent Example of a Conversational hAND Tweet

Fig. 6: An Excellent Example of a Conversational hAND Tweet

Interacting with hAND

Fig. 7: One of my Interactions with hAND on Twitter

Ultimately, a community is far better at spreading the word about you through their friends, both on- and offline, than you could ever hope to on your own, auto-generating Feedback in your Feedback Loop. For instance, this news article by Damien Leech on Heavy Blog is Heavy reflects brilliantly on Townsend, Munkeby, Ihsahn and even myself, even if the mentioned collaboration is not yet happening. This content, created by a member of the artists’ communities, from the artists’ interactions with their communities, creates excitement, interest and engagement.


References & Bibliography

Burgess, C. (2014). Identity Crisis: How Many Online Identities Should You Have? The Progressive.

Burgess, C. (2014). Identity Crisis: A ReflectionThe Progressive.

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2013). The Future of YouHarvard Business Review.

Herstand, A. (2014). 10 Reasons Why Your Band Is Failing At Social MediaDigital Music News.

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

Jonak, A. (2013). Case Study: Lessons from Employ AdamSimple Sells.

Kusek, D. (2014). 10 Secrets Of Social Media For MusiciansHypeBot.com.

Leech, D. (2014). New Collaboration Featuring Ihsahn, Devin Townsend And Jørgen Munkeby? Heavy Blog is Heavy.

Pacitti, A. (2013). EMPLOYADAM. Adam Pacitti.

Smotherman, J. (2013). Are You Guilty? – 4 Ways Indie Musicians Are Killing Social Media. Cyber PR Music.

On Twitter:

Calum Burgess (@MistmanX)

hAND (band) (@handtheband)

Jørgen Munkeby (@jorgenmunkeby)

On Youtube:

Gary Vaynerchuk Teaches Basic Social Media Principles to CNN on TopCultured.com YouTube Channel.

Draw My Life – Game Theory, MatPat, and YOU! on The Game Theorists YouTube Channel.

Identity Crisis: Reflection

The variety of posts on the topic of multiple online identities shows that for different people, the objectives of using the internet vary dramatically. Thus, advantages for one person can be disadvantageous for another, or vice versa. I realise that the points I made in my original post were very oriented towards the artist. For some, this is not so useful, however I will continue to argue from this perspective as this is what is important to me.

The objectives of the online artist, I believe, should be audience expansion and audience retention. These are important issues in the real world as well as the online world, as I mentioned in my response to Din’s comment on my previous post, in which I covered how maintaining a single, unified identity aids audience retention.

In my comment on Freya’s post, I praised the principle of getting the right content to the right people, though I questioned whether the effectiveness of her suggested deployment of it. This relates to audience expansion – the idea of your content reaching as many people as possible. In her response, she specifically mentioned Twitter, and I would like to use my own experiences on there to argue against having multiple identities.

I regularly tweet not only about music (mine and others’) but also about Formula One and Video Games, among other things and have many followers from each of these communities. The suggestion that I should have these divided across multiple identities, I find, relies on a faulty assumption: that each person is one-dimensional and only cares about one specific interest. This is not true; people are multi-faceted and audiences intersect one another. Even if only 10% of my Formula One followers are interested in my music, it is still a significant and valuable increase in my audience.

On a slightly different note, my interaction with Anna on her blog post centred around privacy and the preservation of image going into the future. I think she raised an excellent point in her response; we should be educating future generations about how their online interactions affect their online identities going into the future, as people are gaining access to the internet earlier and earlier in life. Some of the concepts I am learning and thinking about now, at 20 years old, would have been very valuable to the 14 year old me who was just beginning to build his identity.


References

Burgess, C. (2014). Identity Crisis: How Many Online Identities Should You Have? The Progressive | Composition and Academia Blog of Calum Burgess.

Kent-Muller, A. (2014). TOPIC 2: “WHO AM I THEN?” Anna Kent-Muller | Digital Humanities enthusiast.

Mumby, F. (2014). Is having several social identities a good thing? FREYA MUMBY.