The Music Industry

The music business is a complicated system. In the essay Don’t Stop Believing by Deidre Pike, she addresses 3 points that question the music industries honesty, independence, and productivity.

The first point discussed was honesty. Is the music industry honest with the way they promote music and artists? Record  label executives, who are investing their money want to sign a person that is going to make them money, can you blame them? Just like any other investment an investor makes, they want to statistically sign an artist who will likely give them a return on their investment and then some. People don’t realize how much money is spent on an artist to make them popular. Yes, with the advent of YouTube people can rise to stardom and create a loyal fan base, but they will not make it to the popularity of superstars like Justin Beiber, or Miley Cyrus without the push, connects, and money a record label/investor is able to give them. With the digital age, streaming, and social media, it has helped independent artists develop their fan base, but still is a rarity, and a long, tough road to really making it.

http://nypost.com/2014/01/02/indie-artists-are-new-no-1-in-music-industry/

In the essay, it touched on Ani DeFranco, who is an artist who works her butt off independently and has had some success. Not to be rude, but I had no idea who she was, and have never heard a song of hers in my life. Without the push of the record labels, it’s hard to stay relevant for long periods of time. Yes, maybe 5 years you can stay relevant working hard, and spending your own money, but not only would it be much much harder, you also are in a position where other labels and people with money can blackball you or buy you out. Money makes the world go round, sad but that’s life. Macklemore, he made it, and now takes the money he made and continually invests it back into his career.

Can music be independent, yes! Like we saw with Nirvana and other pieces of art, if it’s good, people love it, and it sells, then record labels jump on. I don’t think the message matters anymore, I think it’s more based on what sells. Controversy just adds more hype to the artist and the music. Great example with Nirvana. Another that comes to mind that did it independently is Macklemore, who was able to become a super star overnight, and still has his own record label, Macklemore LLC.

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If I could think of another artist I would think of Pink. Record Labels tried so hard to mold her into what they wanted. And 90% of the time, if the artist doesn’t conform they’ll say, “bye bye, we’ll find an artist that will.” Then there are those few artists that don’t conform, stand their ground and stay true to who they are. It’s just a question of whether or not an artist is willing to sell their soul to the devil. It’s all a mind game. If they change who they are as an artist, they’re considered a sell out, if they change they also may find super stardom from taking some great advice, or they can fall flat on their face conforming and then the label drops them and they are broke, and back to square one.

http://faze.ca/issue08/pink_interview.html

It’s hard to make it in the music industry. Now record labels won’t give you a chance unless you have a huge fan base online, and they feel  you are someone worth signing. My boyfriends friend J.Spoolz is a rapper, and has a song with Wiz Khalifa (before Wiz was big) and the song is hard. Then Wiz blew up, and Spoolz didn’t make it. He’s since tried to get in touch with Wiz to tried to shoot a video, but can’t even get ahold of him and the label isn’t interested. To make a long story short, Spoolz is still on the grind, doing concerts, making music videos, paying for verses from other known rappers, stays popular on social media, and travels all around the US, networking and making music. He has probably spent over 100 grand in the last 6 years trying to make this rap thing happen. All it takes is that momentum, one hit song, and a record label actually wanting to give you a chance, but so far it seems more like a hobby, and a money pit. I respect his hustle, because even when people try and talk trash about him he continues to push. But…. still you have to have a ton of $$$$$ to even think about making it independently. All the money he’s  spent traveling and financing this endeavor will never be returned to the investors, unless he makes it big, and the chances of that seem slim to none.

Is the music industry productive?

I think music does influence the way we think, and at times shapes the person that we are. But like the decision in the Judas Priest case, music can not directly make you do something. There are other factors that play into the decisions a person makes: mental illness, bad life, depression, abuse, anger, pain. Music is a form of expression, and a lot of times I like music because I relate to it. I love rap music, which lyrically talks about guns, hoes, and drugs. But I also love christian music and singing to the lord, and country music & thinking about the fair and drinking beer. It’s just different moods I’m in, I want to listen to different things. Most of the time it triggers memories and good, or fun feelings.

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Marketing Research and the power of Ads

Advertising has the power to persuade society consciously and unconsciously. Advertisements have always been integral part of the twentieth century, but they really took off with the invention of the television. Unlike radio, televisions infiltrated their way into our homes embedding aural and visual messages into our naive minds.

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When cigarette’s came out there were ads everywhere portraying smoking to be sexy, and cool. People were heavily influenced by commercials, and the many messages they send. If you see a commercial 20 times a day with doctors, guys and sexy women smoking, as well as your favorite celebs, you start to believe that everyone smokes and that you are not normal unless you do. On top of that, there was no regulation on the type of cigarrette commercials allowed or who those commercials targeted.

In 1971, advertisements featuring cigarettes were banned from American television (wikipedia). Society began to see the negative effects of cigarettes. This cancer causing element on a stick that slowly kills and physically diminishes a person, was somehow believed to be the coolest thing since sliced bread. The power that these intrusive ads had on the human psyche was no longer a theory, but a fact.  The persuasiveness of advertisements consumes society and molds people into who we are and who companies want us to be. Ads work to tell the consumer what we need and want. They work to make the audience believe that they have to have this product in order to obtain an image or fulfill a need. They sell the lie and we buy it.

Many advertisements appeal to logos (the message) , ethos (credibility of product), and pathos (visual image appeals to audience). Aristotle’s idea on how people are influenced and persuaded (literary devices, http://literarydevices.net/ethos/).

In Frontline’s documentary The Persuaders, it touched upon different techniques that marketing experts use to appeal to an audience. One of the most interesting and effective ways to market is to appeal to an audience’s emotions. If you as a marketer are able to tug on some heart-strings, and activate the consumer’s reptilian desires, as Clotaire Rapaille explains, “then you are able to touch on a mental connection that a person has for the rest of their life.”

In the documentary, it also talked about the airline Song. Which honestly after about the 3rd time of hearing “that’s song” I wanted to scream. The whole time they were doing all their market research and board meetings, I was yelling at my laptop “this is a horrible idea!” As the article on Trendwatching.com elaborates, that consumers want flawsome, not fake. We want personality and realness, not perfection. fa_song_2004-06_details

“Why so song?”

I would never fly song just because of the annoyance factor. On top of it, they built this whole airline on a name and “vibe” shall I say, that has nothing to do with airlines or flying, just being “song.” wtf. Someone should have stopped them early on in the investment and said, “no stop, this is a bad idea.”

  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/28/business/28cnd-air.html?_r=0

Another technique that was portrayed in the film was the Andy Spade’s idea on using emotional appeal to market. He explains that “at the end of the day you want to be part of that culture, and when you get to that point, you’ve created a huge success.”He elaborates that appealing to someone’s needs and desires helps them become connected to the product. 

Advertising works to feel a void that we didn’t even know we had. Wait, do we have a void? Probably not, but these messages have so much power to psychologically fulfill these socially constructed inadequacies embedded in our minds.  Marketing Research experts seem to be about 100 steps ahead of the consumer. As the obesity rate soars in the US and alcohol related accidents rise, I wonder how far advertisements will continue to push like they do, before we have more regulations on commercials.

To be popular culture , or not to be, that is the question

In William Levine’s William Shakespeare and the American People chapter 5, he elaborates on Shakespeare’s journey from high culture to pop culture, to being a joke, and then how he eventually came full-circle back to high-culture. In the nineteenth century, Shakespeare dominated theaters throughout the United States. It was already known to the elites who valued European art, but now it had a made its way into cities not only appealing to a higher socioeconomic class, but as Levine states, “Shakespeare was performed not merely alongside popular entertainment as an elite supplement to it; Shakespeare was performed as an integral part of it.” The theater in the first half of the nineteenth century played the role that movies played in the first half of the twentieth century: “it was a kaleidoscopic, democratic institution presenting a widely varying bill of fare to all classes and socioeconomic groups.” As Levin puts it ,”Culture is a process, not a fixed condition; it is the product of unremitted- ting interaction between the past and the present. Thus, Shakespeare’s relationship to the American people was always in flux, always changing.”

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Shakespeare appealed to the masses because of the context in which his work was presented. Not only did the play’s messages appeal to the crowd, but as Levine puts it, “It was the centerpiece, the main attraction. “An entire evening generally consisted of a long play, an afterpiece (usually a farce), and a variety of between-act specialities.” It wasn’t solely about the plays either; there were multiple factors that played into Shakespeare’s overwhelming popularity in the nineteenth century. Shakespeare played on American’s needs and expectations. It was also in the theater’s ability to attract different types of people by making the playbill an entire production from beginning to end complete with jugglers, singers, gymnasts, audience participants etc., as well as, a play by the popular Shakespeare. “It was a Shakespeare presented as part of the culture they enjoyed, a Shakespeare rendered familiar and intimate by virtue of his context. “ Like in Shakespeare in Love, the movie changed as our culture changes with more modern versions and new blockbuster actors, but the movie’s plot of romance, love, defiance and death still remain relevant as we change.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_KXbKa2crI

Romeo-and-Juliet

The audience’s interaction throughout the play was also evolving throughout the nineteenth century. As Shakespeare’s plays became more popular audience members became more vocal. This was good for the popularity of Shakespeare and the overall enjoyment of the audience, but was a defining moment in the debate between what exactly is the difference between pop culture and high culture? I enjoyed Levine’s point that, “popular has been utilized to describe not only those creations of expressive culture that actually had a large audience but also, and often primarily, those that had questionable artistic merit. Thus, a banal play or a poorly written romantic novel has been categorized as popular culture, even if it had a tiny audience, while the recognized artistic attributes of a Shakespearean play have prevented it from being included in popular culture, regardless of its high degree of popularity.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2014/apr/23/entertainment/la-et-jc-shakespeare-450th-birthday-library-20140422

Shakespeare would be 451yrs old on April 23, 2015

With the knew invention if technology, radio’s, TVs, and other languages becoming common, it started the decline of theaters and Shakespeare began to take a turn toward ‘”polite culture”. Theaters began to sell tickets only for Shakespeare plays, no farce, or specialties included. Which changed the scenery, which ultimately brought a certain crowd of less loud noisy people who enjoyed clapping and Shakespeare’s plays for the masterpieces they truly were. Social dissonance of legitimate theaters started to distance themselves from other theaters, as the audiences began to segregate rapidly. If it was loud and not keeping with the Democratic Party, it was a problem for the “upper class, high culture folk.” Things eventually became violent between the upper and lower class in the Astor Place Riot that tragically killed 22 people.

According to Levin, “The consensus seems to be that Shakespeare was popular for all the wrong reasons: because of the after- that surrounded his plays; because the people wanted to see great actors who in turn insisted on performing Shakespeare to demonstrate their abilities; because his plays were presented in altered, simplified versions; because of his bombast, crudities, and sexual allusions rather than his poetry or sophistication; because of al- most anything but his dramatic genius.

The infamous WikiLeaks

Julian Assange was glorified by mainstream society for his innovative idea and culmination of gathering classified US secret documents and putting them on the Internet for the entire World to see. He was able to find credible employees who were willing to blow the whistle on the inner-workings of the government. From different government affairs to the way we handled war, many aspects of the US were brought to light thanks to Assange and his creation of the infamous wikileaks website. His character became so popular because I think people like to root for a person who defies boundaries; the person who stands up to authority and puts themselves at risk, for the greater cause of the public. I found a contemporary definition that fit well,  it defines popular culture as a contemporary lifestyle and items that are well known and generally accepted; cultural patterns that are widespread within a popular culture.

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I think the reason many people were so interested in this wikileaks, is because we wanted to see what the government was hiding from the public, we wanted to know who the courageous bastard that had the balls to start it was, and how he got this confidential, telling information. Obviously we as citizens of the US know minimal information about what really goes on, so to have it blasted on the web for any Joe blow to read brought a level of curiosity and excitement.

http://youtu.be/jzMN2c24Y1s

Assange played the role of a hero. People thought he was a superstar for making wikileaks possible. Sadly though, a big turnoff to me throughout the “We Steal Secrets” film was how much it went to his head. Yeah it was cool that he blew the cover off the inner workings of the government, and we as the general public appreciated and commended his efforts, but when he started acting as if he was this untouchable king that deserved some Pulitzer Prize, he lost my vote for President. He is an intelligent hacker, and he did upload the info and make it possible to the world, but he changed when the media started blowing his head up.

http://www.newsweek.com/assange-google-not-what-it-seems-279447

Not too sure if he was set up later on the rape accusations, but it sure seemed that way. In the film “We Steal Secrets” they refer to it as a smear campaign. Those women could have been paid off, or paying their dues to a govt. for some other undisclosed reason, but it’s hard to say. I do think the circumstances surrounding that situation were weird. Why would a guy try and break a condom with random chicks? It’s not like it’s some reward to have a bunch of kids around the world that you have to take care of. His explanation sounds a little more credible and makes sense about them fighting and turning on him, and they also may have wanted to make a quick buck. However, those women did seem insistent that the incident happened. Who knows and who cares. I wonder how stressful and chaotic his life will be in different countries. I mean every time he enters into another country, there will be someone watching at all times, and no one will ever trust him! But I guess if he is working for you as a hacker he’ll have a job.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2943486/Now-bill-guarding-WikiLeaks-Julian-Assange-two-year-stay-Ecuadorian-embassy-hits-10million.html

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Social Media

Social media is the new way for the world to communicate. It is no longer about calling friends, or sending them a letter via postal mail. To show you care, it’s all about logging in online, liking pictures, and commenting on status updates.

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Social Media has paved the way for so many positive outlets and forms of communication. It’s about being connected to thousands of friends and people throughout your life and being able to participate in each others life from a computer or phone. We live in a society where everything is about work work work. You have to work to survive, there’s errands to run, kids to feed, a nail appt, and workout session at night. When do people have the time or chance to physically meet on a regular basis? Life doesn’t permit people to enjoy physical pastimes as much as they would like. With the great creation of Facebook and social media, people can associate and be involved in other’s lives digitally. They can learn more about a person on Facebook than they may have never known through years of going to lunch. It allows users to connect with relatives from all around the world. A person 7000 miles away can watch their niece give birth and see all the pictures 2 minutes after the birth. 

http://www.wikihow.com/Get-More-Fans-for-Your-Facebook-Page

I think social media is a great thing. It not only allows people to network and mingle, but it can also build self esteem, and help people find their voice as stated in the article “The Human Psychology behind Facebook’s Success” by Liraz Margalit. People have a natural craving/need to feel accepted. Facebook reinforces that feeling of being liked and admired. It can go both ways though. What happens if a person controls and builds their whole life on Facebook, only to realize that no one likes them? It can be traumatizing to post a picture that you love, and it turns out no one likes the picture. You check your phone for a notification every 30 seconds to see if you have any comments and likes, only to finally get one and it’s your mom with a sympathy like.

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Which brings me to the flip side of social media. Social media, like Facebook, starts to become a false reality that is controlled by you the creator. It may not necessarily be the “real you”, but is more of a fake filtered you. In the article “The Human Psychology of Facebook’s Success”, Margalit touches on the obsession with being liked. You can create an identity that is perfect. You can become egotistical from the amount of attention online, and develop an addiction to constantly needing that attention and NEEDING to be on Facebook. When you aren’t online, you have a sense of missing out and being forgotten about. Facebook infiltrates every part of our lives; from selfies, to checking-in places, our phone’s never leave our side and ultimately can take away from outside interactions.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/behind-online-behavior/201411/the-human-psychology-behind-facebook-s-success

My personal experience on Facebook was great. I set up a profile in 2009, and it was awesome. I connected with all my friends from high school who I had lost contact with in life. I connected with teachers, old bosses, old friends, mended some relationships that went bad, connected with family, and connected with every guy that I had ever hooked up with, had known, or was looking to hook up. Facebook was great, I was always popular on Facebook, had my account for 3 years, and had over 2000 friends.  Then I got the negative touch of Facebook when I got into a relationship in 2012 and that’s really when the problems started.

http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationships/10-things-to-never-do-on-facebook-if-you-are-in-a-relationship/#.VNBXLl6RNFw

It’s so hard to not argue with your boyfriend when guys are writing on my wall, flirting with me, and vice versa. It was always just guys and girls stirring up drama, and if I responded then I heard about it at home. It just wasn’t working. At the same time, these guys were just friends, but if I did write back or like a picture of theirs, I would get a call from my boyfriend thinking something else. Then it came to the point where my boyfriend wanted me to delete this person and that person, and I definitely wasn’t going to do that to anybody, so one day we both just deleted our Facebooks and never looked back. I do miss it and all my friends, but at the same time, my relationship is more important. Also, I know my account is still there when I want to log in. I also was burnt out on Facebook to a certain extent too. Just the constant work that goes into social media. The constant logging in and time spent on it for me was alarming. I would easily be on Facebook for 4 hours a day. Anyway, I was proud I deleted it, because I was so invested and never thought I would actually do it. I’m sure people thought it wouldn’t last, but It did and I haven’t gone back. But.. not gonna lie, I do miss it.  Facebook is fun, and I hate not knowing what’s going on with everyone, which makes me sad. But as long as I am in this relationship, it’s just not gonna happen. I’m good on the drama.