That’s how they do it in the Druitt.

An exploitation of the disadvantaged or poor for privileged gratification.  The use of any type of media, such as images or film to show a westerners portrayal of inequality through a seemingly entitled lens. The distorted presentation of the disadvantaged for the entertainment of the advantaged. These are a number of elements that make up what is referred to as ‘poverty porn.’

This blog post will essentially tie in with and explore the topic of looking at others regarding mediating suffering and poverty porn.

A recent and topical example of poverty porn is SBS’s 2015 Struggle Street. The 3 part reality television documentary series shed light on the struggles and aspirations of residents in public housing areas around the Western Sydney suburb Mount Druitt, an area commonly associated with high unemployment, drug use and various run-ins with the law.

Yet after the series was aired, it received multiple criticisms from residents of Mt Druitt and local governments, with the Mayor of Blacktown labelling it as ‘poverty porn’ (Aubusson, 2015).

The show seems to laugh at, mock, ridicule and blame the poor for their poverty. It triggered critical responses that questions the ethics of presenting those worst effected by rising inequality and high unemployment and as figures of blame and disgust. The show as predicted, stirred up the usual issue concerning lazy and deviant poor people would be fine if they just ‘picked themselves up and worked hard’ (Threadgold, 2015).

The show however is not specifically unique to Mt Druitt’s in Sydney’s west. Issues like unemployment, low average wages and high demand for health services are present in many communities across Australia, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Another issue I noticed which surrounded the show concerns consent and certain decisions of the shows’ creators. Is it the choice of the creators to portray the subjects in any means they want? Can they utilise specific media frames and tools to do so? This issue of consent is one that was common and raised amongst viewers and commentators.

When people, ordinary, powerless people, are thrust into the spotlight, are they able to give informed consent to be interviewed? Do they understand that the stories that will be portrayed won’t be their stories, but stories at best about them, their stories taken by journalists and transformed into the journalist’s stories? (Holmes, 2015). Concern was raised from both the protagonists and the mayor of Mt Druitt about unfair the representation and dubious consent practices the series entails.

To gain the subjects trust, documentary makers give assurance they cannot reliably keep, in that they are going to make a film that aspires to tell the truth. One of the featured characters in the series, Peta, spoke out after the first episode was aired.

“Were shocked, gutted and I feel very hurt. I did not agree to go on the show to be made a fool of. None of us did”, she told New Idea (Willis, 2015).

Furthering this issue, a Mt Druitt school student asked a reasonable question on Q&A around the time the series as aired. The girl was “appalled at the elitism and disconnected privilege shown by SBS” and asked “Is all coverage good coverage? When do our personal stories become ownership of the media?” (Alcorn, 2016). This goes to show the effects that the media can have on shaping or framing certain issues in a light that they wish to do so.

While incarceration rates are rising as well as crime being central to pop culture with the various TV shows and films that revolve around it, poverty in this sense is being reframed as entertainment. The subjects of the series essentially become characters of a comedy show, created for the enjoyment and mockery of middle and upper-class citizens, while completely ignoring the harsh economic realities that create such poverty in the first place.

As most of the viewers and myself agree, the series presented and raised plenty of issues that we normally overlook, and generated sympathy. It contains humour and shock value, yet also hope and courage that the individuals can turn their lives around. However, Struggle Street no doubt betrayed the expectations of many of those it portrayed, and of others who live in Mt Druitt. Yet this doesn’t mean the creators got the story wrong. Telling the truth is a powerful tool, even if it’s uncomfortable or unwelcome, when told about the powerless.

This therefore reiterates the power held by the decision makers and creators of shows like Struggle Street of how mediated suffering is portrayed to convey their message, whatever it is they want it to be, no matter how controversial it seems.

References

Alcorn, G, 2015, ‘Struggle Street is only poverty porn is we enjoy watching, then turn away’, The Guardian, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/598886/mod_resource/content/1/Struggle%20Street%20is%20only%20poverty%20porn%20if%20we%20enjoy%20watching%2C%20then%20turn%20away%20%20Gay%20Alcorn%20%20Opinion%20%20The%20Guardian.pdf>

Aubusson, K, 2015, ‘Mount Druitt community leaders hurt, angry and feeling sick after Struggle Street documentary’, The Sydney Morning Herald: Entertainment, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/mt-druitt-community-leaders-hurt-angry-and-feeling-sick-after-struggle-street-documentary-20150506-ggvtff.html>

Holmes, J, 2015, ‘Struggle Street and journalisms’ betrayal of Mount Druitt’, The Age: Comment, <http://www.theage.com.au/comment/struggle-street-and-journalisms-betrayal-of-mount-druitt-20150518-gh4nmp.html>
Thomas, J, 2015, ‘Struggle Street could be any county town in any state’, SBS News, <http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/05/12/struggle-street-could-be-country-town-any-state>

Threadgold, S, 2015, ‘Struggle Street is poverty porn with an extra dose of class racism’, The Conversation, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/598885/mod_resource/content/1/Struggle%20Street%20is%20poverty%20porn%20with%20an%20extra%20dose%20of%20class%20racism.pdf>

Vuk, J, 2015, ‘Why SBS should keep Struggle Street on our screens’, The Sydney Morning Herald: Comment, <http://www.smh.com.au/comment/why-sbs-should-keep-struggle-street-on-our-screens-20150505-gguixo.html>

Willis, C, 2015, ‘Struggle Street Mum Peta Kennedy says SBS documentary ‘has ripped us apart’’, News.com.au: Entertainment – TV – Reality TV, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/reality-tv/struggle-street-mum-peta-kennedy-says-sbs-documentary-has-ripped-us-apart/news-story/b73ac50de773884c7591b4db835d3adf>

 

But first, let me take a dronie.

Selfie. Oxford Dictionary’s’ word of the year for 2013. Defined by Oxford as ‘a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media’, selfies, despite their popularity, hold a certain stigma concerning sharing and posting selfies for our friends and the world to see. They are essentially part of a trend of performing as people try to portray the life they want others to see by posting photos as evidence of themselves being fun and interesting. Selfies are often saying “I was here,” “I’m attractive,” or “I’m interesting and successful.” (Williams, 2014).

However.

Forget selfies. Those are so 2013. (Gross, 2014).

Make way, instead, for a new way to show your handsome, lovely and airbrushed face to the Internet. “Dronies”. An up-and-coming internet movement that combines high-tech ‘geekery’ with, much like selfies, the human desire to be seen. (Jablonowski, 2014). Are people who are taking short videos of themselves with drones participating in a new media practice? Or is it simply a part of the evolution of the selfie?

This blog will essentially look at the rise of the drone as an example of a media form that shapes how we look at ourselves. It therefore effectively fits in with the module of looking at ourselves: social media and the quantified self.

As the popularity of drones has risen dramatically over the past few years, individuals have begun using the personal, unmanned (and in some areas, illegal to use without a licence) device, fitted out with high definition cameras, for numerous purposes, from capturing ‘sky selfies’ or ‘dronies’ to spying on your enemies and exploring abandoned buildings. The drone gives individuals that extra edge to social medias ‘look at me’ selfie shots. There has been an increased interest in using drones for photography and film making amongst photographers, budding filmmakers and amateurs alike.

Compared to the selfie, drones open up a number of possibilities for interesting compositions and they’re a lot more accessible than some of the professional equipment that filmmakers have had to use in the past to get these kinds of shots. (Mallonee, 2015).

With their rising popularity, numerous platforms have opened up in order to share and enjoy people’s ‘dronies.’ Vimeo has been the first to dedicate a new channel to “Dronies”, containing visually enticing short videos posted by users in order to show off a drones ability. Twitter followed later with the account @dronie which started as a publicity stunt for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity—the advertisement industry’s academy award. Thus, the dronie is said to be seen by some as  “the next evolutionary step of the selfie.” (Jablonowski, 2014)

Despite the current phenomena over drones and their predicted replacement of selfies, it seems quite unlikely that dronies actually will replace the selfie. First of all, drones aren’t cheap. Also, a central and continuing issue surrounding drones and why they shouldn’t be used is regardimg privacy and surveillance. Their increasing popularity has sparked fear amongst numerous communities by seeing the gadget as a device used to facilitate stalking, harassment and surveillance.

While drones can be freely flown above a public space in NSW, questions over privacy remain unresolved.

Regardless of a 2014 inquiry into drones and privacy, gaps still exist in the law. The Commonwealth Privacy Act, designed to protect personal information, does not apply to the actions of individuals using drones and does not regulate the use of surveillance drones by individuals.

In December 2015, Leichardt Council, spurred on by government inaction at state and federal levels, became the first council in Australia to ban drones in parks and public spaces (Gair, 2015).

The reputation of the drone has also been altered over time, going from a seemingly harmless device to a military weapon, utilised by the US in drone strike attacks over middle eastern countries such as Pakistan in order to combat terrorism. The media have even referred to these constant attacks as a ‘drone war’.

So should drones be banned of public use due to privacy concerns? Or should drone owners who with no intention of harm be able to use their device at their own free will to take personal ‘dronies’ and do with them what they will? This is the current issue in contemplation and will continue to remain one as society tries to keep up with advancing technologies and their associated trends.

References

Gair, K, 2015, ‘Prvacy concerns mount as drones take to the skies’, The Sydney Morning Herald: Digital Life, http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/consumer-security/privacy-concerns-mount-as-drones-take-to-the-skies-20151208-glijvk.html , accessed 23rd March 2016.

Gross, D, 2014, ‘Forget selfies –make way for ‘dronies’, CNN, http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/03/tech/innovation/dronies/, accessed 26th March 2016.

Jablonowski, M, 2014, ‘Would you mind my drone taking a picture of us?’, Transformations blog, http://transformations-blog.com/would-you-mind-my-drone-taking-a-picture-of-us-2/, accessed 24th March 2016.

Mallonee, L, 2015, ‘Move over selfies. ‘Dronies’ are where it’s at’, Wired, http://www.wired.com/2015/09/move-selfies-dronies/,  accessed 24th March 2016.

Rogo, M, 2015, ‘What is a selfie and how I can take one?’, Stitch – Get Stitched – The Stitch Blog http://www.stitch.net/blog/2015/07/what-is-a-selfie-and-how-can-i-take-one/, accessed 25th March 2016.

Williams, A, 2014, ‘Why are people are so obsessed over taking selfies?’, Quora, https://www.quora.com/Why-are-people-so-obsessed-over-taking-selfies, accessed 22nd March 2016.

http://objevit.cz/zapomente-na-selfies-prichazi-dronies-

t87309http://www.cityofslt.us/index.aspx?NID=859

Why Holmes?

SHERLOCK-HOLMES_2671973b

Two hundred and fifty-four. 254. This is the number of times (and counting) that Sherlock Holmes has been adapted to film or television. He is the most portrayed human literary character on film and television ever. So, why Holmes?

Sherlock Holmes, a classical literary and now filmic character, has transcended not only generation gaps, but also cultural gaps. The character of Sherlock Holmes and his numerous escapades have been appropriated into countless different television shows and films spanning several decades, becoming one of the most successful literary adaptations.

Though the adaptations differ in several ways including genre, medium, style, setting and target audience, taken together, these adaptations offers not only unique interpretations of the character, but a surprisingly uniform vision of how the hero of page and screen has evolved to appeal to a 21st century audience (Polasek, 2013 pg. 384). It is the role of the television or films’ creators in producing an adaptation to utilise elements of contemporization in order to stay relevant and appealing.

So why, more than any other character, have film and television producers chose to adapt Holmes and his stories?

Jerry Faces 11_10_2005_nonames

The current resurgence of Sherlock Holmes, involving 3 high budget and modernised adaptations, has renewed the question over Holmes’ popularity.

The first of these adaptations was Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film (and 2011 sequel) Sherlock Holmes which falls more into the action-adventure category rather than a crime drama.
Distributed by Warner Brothers, the film was released as a Christmas blockbuster and lived up to its enormous hype and expectations, with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portraying Holmes and Watson, who brought their own interpretations and a touch of Hollywood to the characters.

download (3)

In order for Sherlock Holmes to stay relevant and capture the younger generation’s attention, Ritchie makes Holmes appeal to a 21st century movie going audience. Audiences these days demand a visually engaging experience, which the film successfully delivers with its high energy and fast paced action as well as creating a standard for any future Holmes adaptations.

In 2010, BBC aired the first episode of its much anticipated modern day reboot, a television mini-series Sherlock, staring much loved English actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.  The series was considered ‘quality television’ with a central focus on high production values and character development, specifically the shows creators’ interpretation of Holmes’ characteristics (Polasek, 2013 pg. 385).

sherlock

A key therefore to a successful adaption relies on the right decisions to be made about characterisation. If the characters they are portraying aren’t convincing or relatable to your target audience, it doesn’t work.

Moreover, a good example of a successful adaptation of Sherlock Holmes to suit a specific audience is CBS’s 2012 show Elementary. With its American police-show style, Elementary is more recognisably grouped with the likes of shows such as CSI, NCIS and The Mentalist and appeals to US audiences. Set in New York City, the character of Watson is portrayed as an American woman, giving a fresh take on the original character. Whilst the show carries the common characteristics of a post millennium Holmes, the series essentially represents an anti-hero attempting to navigate his own deep flaws, bringing the adventures of the Sherlock Holmes in recent adaptations into a new light and to a new stage.

ELEMENTARY-banner

Ultimately, the transition of Sherlock Holmes into a more complex post-modern anti-hero is fundamental to the characters journey into the 21st century. Each modern adaptation must navigate the transition is their own unique way, while recognising that the blurring of the hero/anti-hero category is key to their success and maintaining the interests of newer audiences.

Sources

Polasek,  A.D. (2013), ‘Surveying the Post-Millennial Sherlock Holmes: A Case for the Great Detective as a Man of Our Times’, Adaption – Oxford Journals , Vol 6, No.3 pp.384-393

Images

http://romeodistrictlibrary.org/?attachment_id=4056

http://www.reliableindex.com/index.php?page=search/images&search=sherlock+holmes+tv+series&type=images

http://www.thevisibilityproject.com/2014/08/08/cbss-elementary-taps-into-the-potential-of-television-story-adaptations/

Elementary My Dear Sherlock

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/10309718/Sherlock-Holmes-is-not-so-elementary.html

Is Bollywood becoming too westernised?

Films can be seen as belonging to a particular nation. From the early days, cinema was seen as a way to promote a nation by showcasing its culture and beliefs.

Over the years however there has been a paradigm shift from national cinema to transnational cinema. Transnational films contain blended elements of many nations, and therefore cannot be easily defined as belonging to one nation.

The emergence of transnational films has led to a number of questions to arise within the film industry. Are these films culturally empty? Are they so bland and uncultured that they stop addressing any community or society? Are they a form of cultural appropriation?

All of these questions relate to the film industry that is the focus of this post, one the largest centres for film production in the world: Bollywood.

download (2)

In the new millennium, scholars are increasingly predicting that Asian film industries, particularly those of India and China, will wrestle control of global film flows from western dominance.
Mixing both global and local elements to appeal to audience tastes and trends, global mediascapes provide the backdrop of large and complex repertories of images, narratives and ethnoscapes, used in cultural mixing (Schaefer and Karan, 2010, pg. 309).

The Bollywood film industry is full of colour, glitz and glamour, music and dancing and high levels of fast paced energy. Ultimately, Bollywood’s films are a pure form of escapism from the harsher realities of life in an Indian society, with Bollywood acting as a main source of joy for its citizens. Bollywood’s use of lively and energetic cinematic techniques highlight that it’s not hard to understand the appeal of the Bollywood industry, as it brings light and life to the Indian culture.

download (1)

As Bollywood’s popularity increased, we started to see its influence on other film markets. The production of hybridized content is emerging where it’s not bound just by its locality, but essentially embraces diverse cultural elements. The growing incorporation of ‘Bollywoodisms’ and Indian/Hindu references into mainstream North American media continues to emerge, for example as highlighting in the numerous Indian mythology references and motifs  scattered throughout James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar (Schaefer and Karan, 2010, pg. 312).

avatar-2

 In addition, an extensive data analysis in 2009 provide solid evidence of a westernised shift in the content of popular Hindu films, which ironically may have contributed to heightened American sensitivity to and labelling of any film set in India as a ‘Bollywood’ film (Schaefer and Karan, 2010, pg. 313). The 2008 film, Slumdog Millionaire, grossed over $141.3 million at the US box office and was labelled a ‘Bollywood film’, completely ignoring the fact that it was co-produced by two UK film companies and party distributed by the American-Australian company Fox.  Such mislabelling helped American audiences mistakenly associate ‘Indian cinema’ with the films’ westernised production values, further weakening Bollywood’s cultural identity.

iPtLeVJmvAg.movieposter

In order to compete with Hollywood, Bollywood takes sections of western culture to expand its audience, which has arguably no benefit to western culture itself, but rather shifts film profits away from its own countries.

Additionally, Western culture would benefit from this through the creation of a new form of entertainment, emphasizing style and colour that Indian culture offers to the big screen, and Bollywood would benefit by gaining an international audience with greater film revenue and awareness of Indian film culture.

agnie

Ultimately, the westernisation of Bollywood is close to that of an act of hybridisation. Western culture is being fused with Indian culture, and whether or not this is seen as the ‘westernisation’ of Bollywood and the demise of traditional Indian culture, or, an act to survive in the global film industry is a continual and recurring question amongst society and the global film industry.

Sources

Karan, K and Schaefer, DJ (2010) ‘Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, 6: 3, pp. 309-316.

Images

http://www.youthareawesome.com/hollywood-vs-bollywood/

http://chandrakantha.com/articles/indian_music/nritya/bollywood.html

Avatar

https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/Slumdog_Millionaire?id=iPtLeVJmvAg

http://www.henspartyideasadelaide.com.au/package/feature-bollywood-dancing/

Has globalisation stolen our identities?

Think local and act global.”
(Manuel Castells, Challenges of Globalisation, 2001 as cited in O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2012, p 458)

This quote, I believe successfully sums up one of many ideologies behind globalisation and the effects it has had on the world we live in. Despite the numerous advantages that globalisation has produced, the ‘global’ has created a number of negative impacts upon the ‘local’, resulting in local societies’ sense of identity and community to be diminished or lost.

In heading towards a definition, globalisation can be referred to as an international community influenced by technological development and economic, political and military interests. It is essentially characterised by a worldwide increase in interdependence, interactivity, interconnectedness, and the virtually instantaneous exchange of information (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2012, p 458).

With the aid of global communication, globalisation has led the emergence of various global perspectives, allowing us to discover what is happening around the world with great ease and speed as well as enabling our participation in the ‘global village.’ Additionally, what globalisation is leading to is a degree of homogenisation, consumerism and commoditisation yet also a hybridisation of world cultures, giving rise to a global village linked by telecommunications.

Although the development of globalisation has given rise to new forms of community and a sense of global interconnectedness, it has also created a number of challenges and the quality of life available to many citizens in the global village has been questioned (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2012, p 464).

fat

A Castell describes, ‘we are not living in a global village, but in customised cottages globally produced and locally distributed.’ (Castells 2000, p 370 as cited in O’Shaughnessy & Stadler, p 464). This reiterates the level of influence and power the global has over the local.

In referring back to Castells’ first quote, in order for society to think locally, people need to be rooted in their identity, their interests, their culture, morals and political standpoint. However to act globally, individuals must utilise telecommunication advancements such as the internet to participate and compete in the global domain.

hamburger on head

The ease with which we can access new media and technologies is facilitating a shrinking of cultural borders. Whilst this helps facilitate ‘acting globally’ it can diminish an individual and their community’s sense of identity and cultural normality. A perfect example of how globalisation has caused our sense of identity to be diminished is James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar. Avatar depicts several concepts of economic globalisation by portraying ethnocentrism, acculturation and marginalisation.

pandoraHometree_destruction

As the humans in the film aim to sweep aside the locals with military power through technological advancements in order to mine the planet Pandora’s precious mineral, the Na’vi people take a stand to fight back against the ‘global’ threat in order to protect their ‘local’ and hence their identity. This ultimately portrays how the global force (humans) essentially destroys the local (native land of Pandora), much like how global entities such as TNC’s and MNC’s, often driven by generating profit, have damaged local and indigenous societies around the globe.

Sam Worthington’s character Jake Sully at one point in the film quotes “everything is backwards now, like out there (Pandora) is the true world, and in here (space pods) is the dream.” This signifies how the impact of globalisation can cause individuals to lose a sense of their original environment and values (throughout the film Jake assimilates into the Na’vi tribe) and become embedded in the global realm, hence losing their identity.

Whilst the forces of globalisation continue to grow and evolve creating new opportunities to engage in and communicate on a global scale, it is important to think about what society was like before the effects of globalisation kicked in and whether our identities will withstand the modifications and pressures.

Sources

Images:

http://thetechjournal.com/electronics/computer/software/best-pc-mac-im-chat.xhtml

http://avatarblog.typepad.com/avatar-blog/guest-post/

Video:

Article:

O’Shaughnessy M & Stadler J, 2012, ‘Globalisation’, Media and Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 458 – 471.

An Interview with a YouTube Addict

youtube-logo-full_color

The research question for my group project is the effect of new media on the music industry. From a list of possible questions for our questionnaire, 2 questions have been adapted to a survey style whist adding 2 open ended question for the purpose of this blog. The respondent is a 20 year old female.

One of the aims of our research project is to determine the effect that new media has on the music industry, therefore we need to establish if and why the ways in which someone listens to and accesses music has changed over a certain period of time due to the introduction of new media.

Essentially, with the introduction of new media giving rising to various music streaming and torrenting sites for free, the music industry has lost millions of dollars to music piracy and illegal downloading.

The first adapted survey question which I asked of my respondent was regarding the level of success that YouTube has attained in relation to the music industry. After listing a number of YouTuber names (Troye Sivan, Patty Walters, Karmin, Cody Simpson, Greyson Chance, Esme Denters), I then asked how many of the names she was familiar with. The result was the respondent being familiar with 5 out of the 6 names.

I then asked an open ended question which expanded on the above question which was “How did you find yourself to become familiar with these names?”

The respondent spoke about being an ‘avid YouTube watcher’ who could spend ‘over 2 hours a day watching and discovering new YouTube videos.’

“It’s all about the artists’ internet status and their position in the YouTube community,” the respondent stated. She believes that if YouTuber has a strong social media following over various sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram then they are more likely to reach wider audiences.
“The more popular a person gets on social media, the more curious you become to listen to their music,” the respondent said.

The other open ended question I asked was whether the respondent believed that these YouTube musicians would have had the same success without the use of social media. “Definitely not,” the respondent replied. She then mentioned that like she stated previously, without the artists use of various social media sites, their exposure would be greatly reduced, therefore lessening their chance of success, especially in this technology driven age.

The second survey question I asked which sums up our area of research is whether new media has an overall positive or negative impact on the music industry. On a scale of 1 to 7 with 7 being positive, the respondent rated a 5/7. She elaborated that although new media has increased exposure of new and emerging artists to get their foot in the door of the music industry, it has also increased competition and issues regarding streaming and the way people access their music, causing problems with illegal downloading and piracy.

Overall, the survey questions which were adapted from our questionnaire were successful in obtaining substantial answers from the respondent that complements our area of research, yet there could be some further tweaking and altering of questions and their method of response to really hone in and focus on particular issues that we wish to focus on.

Sources

http://variety.com/2014/digital/exec-shuffle-people-news/youtube-hires-manuel-bronstein-as-head-of-consumer-products-1201353695/

Streaming wars

The area of research that my group members and I have chosen to explore for our group assessment is that of the effect of new media on the music industry. Therefore for this week’s blog, I found an article discussing piracy and streaming within the music industry.

Piracy is a problem as old as the music industry itself, dating back to Victorian times where illicitly copied sheet music was the known enemy of an artist. With the introduction of the internet and its facilitation of instant and limitless production, the web has opened the door to piracy on an ever increasingly scale.

 The article, titled ‘Streaming sets off a painful debate in the music industry’ details Jonathan Ford’s thoughts, the chief leader writer for the Financial Times, on music streaming and particularly that of the site Spotify.

The purpose and context of the article centrally focuses on amid the carnage of the impact of the internet on the music industry with global music revenues nearly halving since 2000, among the more hopeful innovations has been Spotify.  Launched by Swedish entrepreneur Daniel Elk in 2008, the article primarily discusses the operations and workings of Spotify, detailing its amount of users, subscriptions and problems it has faced since starting.

Spotify is based on the same sort of technology that powered original pirate sites like Napster and Kazaa however the company has legitimised its model, licencing more than 30 million tracks from musicians and record labels. Users pay a monthly fee of $9.99 in the US for unlimited access or get served advertisements every few songs if they are on the free tier. While 60 million users don’t pay for the service, sacrificing functionality, 15 million are paying subscribers.

With piracy and streaming in the music industry being an ever existing and evolving issue, it will always pike interest in readers and music fans alike, as well as artists and stakeholders in the music industry. Being a listener myself, this article interested me in the fact that I’d heard of Spotify but didn’t know how it worked (e.g. paying monthly fees).

External research provides readers of the article with a background to Spotify as well as providing current and up to date information such as Spotify’s standing in music streaming business and their sales figures, number of paying subscribers, etc.

The information is presented in quite a clear and objective manner, organised to first give an insight into music piracy, the music industry and streaming in general then providing information about Spotify and its relevant sales figures, statistics, position in the market and future prospects.
However towards the end of the article, Ford discusses how streaming music has caused losses to the industry and artists, yet some labels such as Universal made operating margins of 11% in 2013, almost doubling their figures from a decade before. Ford stating that ‘the profitability of intermediaries such as Universal gets even harder to explain’ reveals Fords opinion of the label and its ability to make profits at a time where sales remain stagnant.

Ford poses the question to readers as to  ‘whether customers, deprived of streaming, will flip back to downloading tracks or buying cd or simply switch off or revert back to piracy’ then provides that the answer to this problem lies not in intervention, but competition, with new entrants such as Jay-Z’s Tidal posing as a potential threat.

New competition – The big name artists committed to Tidal: (from left) Usher, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West, JAY Z, and J. Cole. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/tidal-takes-on-spotify-apple-to-follow-20150407-1mfofs.html#ixzz3Wm2LR3m8

In conclusion, Ford provides a well-researched and versed article about Spotify, piracy and streaming, as well as providing an insight as to what he predicts the future holds for streaming and the music industry.

Sources

Ford, Jonathan, 2015, ‘Streaming sets off a painful debate in the music industry’ The Financial Times: Companies: Technology, accessed 4th April 2015, <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9d80ca92-d078-11e4-a840-00144feab7de.html#axzz3WlcKNOvT&gt;

Image: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/tidal-takes-on-spotify-apple-to-follow-20150407-1mfofs.html