Music – Not Just for Listening!

The essence of music has always been simple – just listen. Music is one form that does not require other senses in order to enjoy. However, in this day in age, visualization has become absolutely crucial to the success of music. Without visuals, music becomes almost prehistoric – musicians and artists need to capitalize on their ability to bring their music to life. And with that, the year 2016 has become a breeding ground for music to be good for your ears AND your eyes. In this post, I’m talking about all of the different ways that music industries are shifting to be masters of sound and sight.

So Shazam. You’ve probably heard of this application, and what’s more likely, you have the app on your phone. As the number one music recognition app, Shazam has not only become a verb, but a household name. Recently, you may have seen Shazam partner up with other companies to put their logo in commercials, giving viewers the opportunity to ‘shazam’ the commercials to be taken to a content-curated page. An awesome is example is the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, where if you shazamed Ellie Goulding’s performance, you would be taken to a page to enter her sweepstakes. Now, following in the footsteps of your Snapchat ID and QR codes, there is Visual Shazam. Updates to the app including this feature have been available for a short while, but are now just being widely implemented. Personally, I know that Visual Shazam is becoming very popular for promoting artists. On stickers, posters, and other merch, if you find the Shazam logo, you can open up the camera section of the app and be taken to that content curated page. You no longer need to just hear the music to discover it – you can Visual Shazam it! Now, users have the ability to whip out their phones and discover special content only reachable by using this feature. Definitely a way to catch people’s interest.

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Additionally, 2016 is the year that concerts may just be revolutionized. With the Oculus Rift and similar fixtures being released this year, virtual reality is becoming the new norm. My company, Universal Music Group, is planning to release digital concerts throughout the year for virtual headset devices. Essentially, DVD concerts are a thing of the past, and this allows a gateway for bands who would not have access to a big time recorded concert to access far more fans, and give them that personalized concert feel. Some artists, such as Bjork, are making music videos specifically for virtual reality. I’m not entirely on board with the idea. With college students being one of the largest markets for music, I asked another college student, Brendan Clancy, senior at Michigan State University, what he thinks about concerts in virtual reality: “I think that would be a pretty cool idea. Maybe not if you had to pay for it, though. If you were somewhere, at an event of some sort, that provided you with the footage to watch the concert, then that would be cool. I don’t know if I’d spend money to watch a whole concert in virtual reality. That’s a long time to be sitting there, and if you can see them live, then I don’t really see the point. A music video would be a sick idea though. You can do anything with that.” I also asked my friends, who asked their friends, how they felt about watching a concert in virtual reality.  Only about a third of them had actually used a virtual reality headset before, so these results will more than likely change in the future.

 

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My take? First of all, Visual Shazam is gonna be big no matter what. Just like QR codes, Visual Shazam is easy, convenient, and kind of fun. I don’t see the downside to having Visual Shazam. All it does it make discovering artists that much easier and more interesting by incorporating visual content, which is nothing to complain about. Conversely, virtual reality for music? I agree with Brendan; I’m not so sure. Maybe if we’re talking about a virtual reality experience of someone like Tupac Shakur, someone we can never see again, then that would be worth my time to sit down and watch a concert. But, the whole point of concerts is to actually be there, and I’m not convinced that seeing it in virtual reality would be more exciting. It’s kind of like watching them play a concert on TV – it’s interesting, but not something I’d spend hours doing. I do however think the idea of virtual reality music videos could be amazing. As the chart above says, the largest majority of video watching is for music videos, besides funny viral content, meaning that music videos are MASSIVELY influential and critical to the success of artists. In these short blurbs of time, artists can really engage with their viewers and find a new way to reach more fans by creating an incredible virtual space – this is an outlet that could spawn a new kind of filmmaking, which would influence entertainment culture in its entirety. That being said, it could also be the worst thing that ever happened. What if you accidentally end up in a virtual reality setting of a death metal video? Being put in that setting might end up being traumatic – virtual reality may be teetering on a fine line. Overall, the music industry is definitely becoming more reliant on visual cues, and as with every technology, it has its potential risks and rewards. But the industry is undeniably changing, and we will be living in the realm of virtual music before we know it. Until then, I’ll stick to seeing my bands the old-fashioned way: live and in-person.

Death by Listicle

As someone who constantly consumes news from the sites Buzzfeed and Gawker, I would honestly say that I do not believe they are benefitting the news industry – I think they are killing it. While I am more likely to read the news because of its association with the articles I actually go to their sites for, I find it quite hard to take their news as equally or more credible than traditional news sources simply because they are known for a totally different aspect and environment on their site. When I go onto a site that includes listicles and articles featuring dogs that will make my day and ‘Bob the Builder’s Favorite Drinking Game,’  I don’t tend to think of it as a serious news source. While websites such as these are what is taking our attention away from the real news sites, I don’t think they are putting enough real and credible news in front of us to make up for the decline in other news mediums.

Gawker seems to have news that is more closely aligned to what I would consider real news, based on the first look at the two web pages. And while they both feature both hard and soft hitting news articles, the entertainment articles sprinkled among the news articles seem to take prominence, and are probably far more likely to be clicked on. Also, based on my social media feeds, it seems that mostly the ‘fun’ articles are the ones being promoted, and while the hard news seems to be making a push, I’m not sure how effective it is to market such different aspects of a website in the same way. Then again, perhaps it is just my personal preference to always read the more entertaining pieces, rather than the more serious ones. Overall, I believe the largely entertainment based content on this site takes readers away from the actual news outlets, and that the sites themselves are not efficient enough at the moment to be taken seriously to fill those voids that their other pieces are creating. I believe that sites such as these really are killing the news.

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Gawker Homepage

 

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Buzzfeed Homepage

My question: How do you believe sites such as these can be taken seriously when they are known for such entertainment based content? Do you believe that they should be taken seriously? Also, do you believe that one site or the other is more detrimental to the news, or are they both the same?

Carly Rae Jepsen: A Night in Photos

So, finding a story to photograph about music proved to be relatively difficult, aka why this post is coming so late. With SpringFest coming up, it seems most of the music organizations on campus are saving up their resources to prepare. That being said, I couldn’t find any sort of hard-hitting, super interesting photo story to present on. One thing I do have, however, is an inside look at my job! On March 13, I was assigned to cover the Carly Rae Jepsen show at Saint Andrews in downtown Detroit. If you’re not familiar with Carly Rae Jepsen, here is a clip to remind you.

On arriving at Saint Andrews, there was a huge line, and I wouldn’t be able to get a good spot at the venue if I waited in it. Our job doesn’t give us passes and doesn’t technically allow us to bypass the crowd, but sometimes telling them I work for the label works. I approached the bodyguard and asked for admittance by telling him I worked for the label. He was skeptical, but he let me in, leading to me getting my tickets. I then had them scanned by again telling another security guard I worked for the label, and he hesitantly let me in to what I found out was the early line for the meet and greet. Essentially, I hustled my way into the meet and greet, which I didn’t mean to do, but it worked! P.S. Carly Rae Jepsen is very short. I’m only 5’3″ and I had a few inches on her. So tiny. Afterward, we stood around while some of the meet and greeters asked her questions about her tour, her album, and her Grease Live! performance.

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Carly taking a selfie with a fan!

Soon after that, the rest of the crowd was let in. The first group was the Fairground Saints, who are a smaller band that may not even have a label at this point. They had a very country/folk vibe, which is not really my style, but they were very talented. Before and after their set, I befriended the people behind me. It turns out they work for Detroit Rock Review, a smaller blog covering music around Detroit. I am always trying to make new connections, so this was a big score for the night (on top of meeting Carly of course). We took a selfie together. Also, that lady is my mom! I had a plus one and she wanted to come.

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The next act was Cardiknox, who were not a band I had ever heard of previously. They were very high energy, and it seemed that the crowd was relatively familiar with some of their songs. I was impressed. I have been listening to them a lot lately! That’s one thing I love about my job, always being introduced to new artists.

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After their performance, the venue was PACKED. I had enough room at the front, but there was no room left in the venue, which was great to see. There was actually a very surprising crowd there as well. It ranged from kids in elementary school to a lot of late 20’s to mid 30’s adult men. Very interesting. But it is impressive to see that Carly Rae has such a wide fan base.

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Soon after Cardiknox, Carly finally came on! I have to be honest, my expectations were not very high, but she blew them out of the water. She sounded exactly like she does on her album, and she put on an amazing show. Even better, everyone in the crowd knew all her songs! I only know a few, but it was so inspiring to see such a lively audience come out and be so supportive. You could tell that she and the crowd were really vibing off one another.

IMG_9363.JPGIMG_9403.JPGCarly came right in front of the crowd for this photo! Everybody rushed to the stage. At this point, I was completely smushed, and getting kind of trampled by the fans actually. It was a bit scary, but it just shows how much she wanted to get in touch with the crowd.

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The end of the show! Everybody loved her. Even though I didn’t know most of the songs, it was actually an amazing show. I talked to some fans about what they thought (and took their demographic information), and everybody had rave reviews. The concert was amazing. Even my mom liked it! Just one of the awesome perks of having my job and being a member of the Universal team!

Hands-off Music: The Future of Headphones?

Music technology continues to change the way we listen to and interact with our favorite songs, allowing us discover a wider and more diverse appreciation for the audial art. With all the technology that continues to come out that is usually targeted for producers and DJ’s, it can be hard to find a new product that can benefit the listeners just as much. Enter the Aivvy Q Self-learning headphones.

I haven’t heard much about these headphones publicly, but a quick google search of new music technology led me to multiple instances of the Kickstarter project that has been helping to fund these revolutionary headphones. Listed on Beatport’s “10 Music Technologies That Will Change the Game”, these headphones take in information on your surrounding settings to figure out the perfect songs for your mood. In every setting you use the headphones in, it takes into account the weather, temperature, location, and what kind of music you are currently listening to. This allows for the headphones to curate a sort of personal playlist that will automatically fit the mood you’re in based on your previous listening selections that were in similar settings. So, instead of looking up the music you’re feeling like listening to most, the headphones will detect your surroundings and play it for you without you having to lift a finger.

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The pros of these headphones are obvious: the headphones remember your settings and play what they think you want to hear most based on your actual preferences. Additionally, according to their website, the headphones refresh every time you charge, and wifi access allows for new recommendations to come through from their personal cloud with over 50 million songs. To listen, there is no wifi required, and does not need to be hooked up to any other device, such as your phone. The cons, however, may be why they have yet to generate any outside-the-industry buzz. The cost of the headphones are $300 and are supposed to be released this spring, so reviews will be coming out – are they any better than just making a playlist on Spotify? Sometimes, you just might be in the mood to listen to something different, how will that affect the playlist in the future? The convenience of control has not been published yet as well, so it will be interesting to see how easy it is to surf through music without any screen to guide you.

I am very interested to see how the release of these headphones goes, and if it will be feasible for the masses to abandon their own curated playlists for headphones that do it for them. The idea alone makes me consider buying a pair, but the ease of use has me concerned when there is only a knob to switch between different types of music. Overall, I think these headphones may present big competition to streaming services like Spotify and Tidal, but the upcoming release is really the only thing that can tell us for sure.

Data Visualization: Modern Music Streaming

The data visualization I chose to analyze for this blog post was a visualization of how artists, signed and unsigned, make music in the modern industry. It shows how the revenue is distributed between the artist, labels, and distributors, as well as how many sales it would take for them to achieve minimum wage.

I chose this chart because of the relevance it shows to a huge problem that the music industry is facing today. A lot of artists such as Taylor Swift have pulled their music off of streaming services because they are not compensated monetarily for allowing people to listen to their music. Apparently, TIDAL was created to alleviate this problem, but interestingly enough, this chart shows that it doesn’t seem to be significant. (Pandora and Spotify do not make you pay to use the app unless you want it advertisement free – TIDAL requires a subscription).

Also, my employer, Universal Music Group, which houses many of the world’s most talented musicians, recently signed a deal with the streaming service SoundCloud to award artists compensation for having their music streamed on the service. There are lawsuits pending in the music industry so artists are rewarded for the amount of people listening to their work, although many of them have not reached an agreement.

I liked this chart because it was visually appealing and very simple to understand. The columns allow us to know how albums are being sold, the artist’s status, how many albums they need to sell to make the minimum wage. It also visually demonstrates the vast difference in how difficult it is for signed artists to make money off of streaming platforms compared to unsigned, and how few of them actually do it. It was interesting to see that the artists who are most likely receiving the most success are really not benefitting at all monetarily to have their music on these streaming sites. It is simple and to the point. Unlike traditional journalism, this was presented with very little narrative, and only presented the need-to-know facts. The visualization did not need any background information, such as the “How or Why”, but only the Who, What, and When. It was also convenient, because describing the disparity between artists in only words would have made it much more confusing than to simply show it. One shortcoming of this chart is that it only takes into account solo artists, not bands, so it would be interesting to see how and if that would make a difference. Overall, it was eye-opening to see how the industry is changing to digital markets, and where the future lies for musicians who rely on their talents for a living.

My Take on NPR One

Stories: Comedian Jon Benjamin’s Jazz Album Is Full Of ‘Real, Untapped Un-Talent’

Is My Phone Spying on Me?

How Do You Measure Passion? Figuring The Value Of Social Media Followers

‘Newtown’ documentary; Rihanna’s new album; L.A. Art Fair

How Do You Measure Passion? Figuring The Value Of Social Media Followers

In Flint, fix the problem, not the blame

Local Newscast

I am not a very avid NPR user, so it was a bit difficult for me to find any interest on the station in the beginning. It was mostly political, which I find incredibly boring, so I skipped through some and suffered through others to gain a sense of what NPR was feeding me. Eventually, I got to some things that I actually enjoyed and was pleasantly surprised to be presented with.

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I skipped through a lot of information on the Iowa Caucus, simply because it was so boring I had completely tuned out anyway. After skipping through a few, I started receiving a bit more “Note to Self”, the first one being on the topic of phones being able to pick up on owner’s conversations and subtly adjust, and how much privacy we really have over the phone. While I ended up skipping through it toward the end of the 25-minute segment, it was a bit that had made accessible enough for someone not particularly interested in the subject to stick around. I tagged it as ‘interesting’.

I switched to the ‘Explore’ tab after listening to a story on how Bob Woodruff deals with life being bombed in Iraq. I ended up choosing ‘the Frame’ which is a TV, Movie, Art and Music radio station. I was able to scroll through a variety of shows and ended up choosing a recent one, a 20-minute show reviewing Rihanna’s new album, which had been recently released on Tidal, as well as the L.A. art scene and a touching interview with the director of Newtown massacre documentary and the father of one of the murdered children (I cried. A lot.)

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By only using the ‘listening’ feature, I wasn’t presented with a ton of stories that particularly interested me. They were definitely important and relevant topics, like the Flint water crisis and local news, but since I have an app that sends me notifications, I didn’t feel the need to listen in detail. Occasionally, a story about media would pop up that I would listen to, but oftentimes a lot of them were long and not interesting the entire way through, so I would end up skipping them. I do like, however, that I can quickly flip between hearing political or local news to listening to information on the arts and entertainment industries with just a few touches, while getting plenty of options. For someone who was not familiar with NPR before, I think that the customization could use a bit of work, but overall is very efficient to stay up-to-date with everything that holds importance to you.

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White Privilege II Release Starts Social Justice Conversation

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I just want to mention that since I have tweeted this and posted it in here, this particular tweet is gaining traction. Jamila Woods herself has retweeted it to her 3,000+ followers. I posted the original in case I didn’t have time to update it before the deadline.

 

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NYT Does Not Rise in Online Presence

The article I chose to cover for this specific blog is called ‘Flume Rises in the E.D.M. World’. The articles were featured on the front page of the Arts section in previous issues of the New York Times. The article is about the growing popularity of Flume, an Australian electronic music producer who has gained his mass amount of fans by using social media to propel himself in the electronic dance world. His music has gained listeners from all over the world by originally posting his songs onto SoundCloud, a free site where musicians can post their creations to be shared and listened to by anyone who stumbles upon them. He also began remixing songs from other artists, which is what kickstarted his rise to the top, remixing songs such as Lorde’s ‘Tennis Courts’ and gaining millions of listens on SoundCloud. The article details how even in a world where musicians do not gain any royalties from sharing sites (a current ongoing debate in the industry), they work essentially as advertisements for the artist. For example, one of his remixes earned a spot in a Lacoste commercial, and although he made no money, he earned spots in music festivals, significantly boosting his fan base.
The articles in the online and print version were almost exactly the same. The physical copy had an extra headline, ‘An Electronic Dance Musician Climbs. The New Metrics Say So’ as well as a blown up clarification point ‘Flume takes a new-media path to global success’, but they are identical aside from that. Their methods of promotion were different, however. The first reason I stumbled upon the article was because I had liked Flume on Facebook, which is talked about under ‘Institutional Promotion’. It was relevant to me, and was also shared by influencers such as Billboard, something they stressed as being key to engaging more readers in their online content. Other than that, I would give a very low grade for the New York Times hitting the mark on finding new ways to generate readers. Promotion was not bad, and they did include a less minimalist page so I could find other articles, but overall I did not find that their online approach was really any more effective. Had I not been previously interested in Flume, I doubt I would have discovered the article and been interested in what it had to say.

News Habits and Finding a Beat

My name is Abby Rozich and I am a junior majoring in Communication with a minor in Performance Art Management. I am a relatively passive news reader, and do not typically actively seek reading news unless it is presented in front of me. With that being said, I do have multiple sources that I engage with that ensure that anything of importance and worth knowing is sent to me, that way I can stay moderately informed. A lot of my news comes from Facebook, where I have liked certain news outlets such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and TIME in order to receive news that I know is reliable and will cover the most important issues, without the hassle and annoyance of a ton of extra ‘fluff’ that would come along with any traditional newspaper. I also have phone apps and follow sources on Twitter so, as the Tow article states, I can receive news that is released quickly so I can be aware the minute something happens as opposed to waiting for an official news source to release the information. My parents usually read newspapers and watch the local and world news every night, however they have adopted getting updates on their phone so they are actively being updated.

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Example of news app notification from Q13Fox

 

The beat that I am focusing on for this class is the future of marketing in the music industry. As a college representative for Universal Music Group, the biggest music distribution company in the world, it is a story that it is of great interest to me and how the industry I am pursuing a career in is avidly changing. Artists are no longer pitching to radio stations or playing the dive bars that they did before the age of the internet. Nowadays, it is far more important to create a viral video or song in order to gain an even wider audience. Part of the biggest jobs for representatives such as myself is to break new artists onto people’s radars, something that can now be done even when the artist is not able to receive any radio play, or even have a radio-friendly sound. By spreading awareness on social media through the artists’ Youtube or Spotify releases, as well as promoting their pages like Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, any internet user is able to discover the talents of this artist without the dependency of a competitive outlet such as a radio station.  Using college students as my consumer example, I am exploring how the use of social media is changing the way that the music industry markets their products.

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Example of promotion of an artist on social media.