Network Neutrality and the Impact of its Potential Demise

For the past several years, the internet, its convenience, and the speed with which we can access our favorite websites is something that many if not all of us have taken for granted. Until recently, the thought that one of my personal favorite activities – surfing the web – could be changed for the worse without my consent or involvement never crossed my mind. This is probably due in part to the fact that I am often found quite guilty of taking something for granted when it is all I have ever known. However, I know that I am not the only one guilty of this. As a generation, or even as a society, we are not prone to think that something can be taken away from us very easily, especially when we live in a democratic nation like the United States where people spend extraordinary amounts of time and energy praising our rights and freedoms. When people began to realize that network neutrality, something those with the internet at their disposal have unknowingly grown accustomed to, is under threat, outrage understandably ensued. For those still unfamiliar with the term, the SavetheInternet.com Coalition definition is easy to understand: “Net Neutrality means that the Internet service providers may not discriminate between kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies.” From this simple definition alone, it should be quite obvious that we as consumers do not want anything to threaten net neutrality, because it is the principle that allows us equal access to any and all websites all of the time (Times Topics, 2010). However, network owners that provide service to our homes, offices, and businesses are looking to profit even more than they already do from this resource that is so widely used. They would like to do so by creating a “‘tiered’ Internet” (SavetheInternet.com Coalition). This would mean that, as the owner of a website or service, you would have to pay Internet service providers to be placed in the top tier, allowing it to run as quickly as it always has. If you do not pay, your site or service would be slowed down by the network, potentially enough to drive users away. The implications of this system are endless, but one of the arguments against it is that it would quickly put an end to internet innovation and growth as most sites would be unable to afford to pay the required fees to providers. In addition, the end of net neutrality could mean the end of access to diverse sources of information and points of view on political, economic, and social issues facing our nation and world today. This is unacceptable for many reasons, including the reality that access to any and all information is something we depend on to be well-educated and well-informed.

If your Internet experience has done nothing but improve over the past few years, you probably believe as I did: that the end of network neutrality is a distant threat or would never be allowed to happen. However, you would be wrong. In a petition submitted to the FCC in 2007, it was stated that studies done by the Associated Press and Electronic Frontier Foundation discovered that Comcast “has been degrading and blocking peer-to-peer applications, including those using the BitTorrent protocol. Subsequent studies provided evidence that Comcast is also degrading Gnutella, and even Lotus Notes” (Amori, 2007). The FCC upheld the complaint against the company, but the U.S. Courts ruled that they do not have the authority to impose net neutrality on broadband providers. However, the FCC is still trying to find a way to regulate networks. As the New York Times reports, just this past December, they approved a proposal that essentially creates “two classes of Internet access, one for fixed-line providers and the other for the wireless Net” (Times Topics, 2010). One of the major issues with the rules is that “they discourage but [do] not expressly forbid something called ‘paid prioritization,’ which would allow a media or technology company to pay the provider for faster transmission of data, potentially creating an uneven playing field” (Stelter, 2010).

Obviously, the FCC’s approved proposal is not doing the job we need it to, and thanks to several public interest groups and individuals speaking out against the proposal, the debate and legal battle over network neutrality is far from over (Times Topics, 2010). I, myself, have signed countless petitions in support of net neutrality, and I suggest that you, too, use one of the many freedoms this country provides you with and lend your voice to the argument. Your lifestyle most likely hangs in the balance.

References

  1. Amori, M. (2007, November 1). Petition for Declaratory Ruling. Retrieved from http://www.fcc.gov/broadband_network_management/fp_et_al_nn_declaratory_ruling.pdf
  2. Stelter, B. (2010, December 20). F.C.C. Is Set to Regulate Net Access. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/business/media/21fcc/html?_r=2
  3. Times Topics. (2010, December 22). Net Neutrality. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/subjects/n/net_neutrality/index.html
  4. SavetheInternet.com Coalition. Net Neutrality 101. Retrieved from http://www/savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-101
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The Music Industry’s Indie Takeover

When I want to know about new music, I go straight to the internet. I know my chances of discovering something new and something I like without the internet are slim to none. Instant gratification is what I’m looking for and the discovery doesn’t come easy through TV or radio. On the internet, I have thousands of blogs at my disposal and even blog aggregators, filtering music by popularity, genre, or artist. The way I browse for music has transformed the type of music I listen to, which can be anything from remixes of independent artists to an aspiring rapper’s mixtape. What I hear on the radio and what’s at the top of the charts always seems to be yesterday’s news.

The music industry is scurrying to make changes that will get consumers to start buying music again, but with the variety of music that is available for free, will things ever make a change?  In the fall of 2003, there were 5 major labels heading the industry, today there are three. In less than ten years, the change the music industry has faced has been drastic, but the transformation is nowhere near complete yet. As society turns to the internet for nearly everything, as long as we have a digital device, we have the capability to stay connected. The format in which we are consuming our music has caused digital sales to surpass CD sales and has caused industry revenues to take a steep decline. As this trend continues, the forces headlining the industry are slowly becoming one.

Shortly after the release of Warner Music Group’s 2010 annual report, the company announced that it would be seeking buyers for the business. Warner Music Group is not the only company up for grabs, after Citigroup seized EMI from Terra Firma in February, EMI is on the market too. Ten years ago, Billboard reviews were from artists on major labels. Today, you’d be lucky to recognize at least 3 label names on a page full of album reviews. This year’s Grammy Awards show validated the place of independent labels in the music industry.

While the remaining three labels are leading the industry, independent artists and labels are finding themselves playing in the big leagues. Cake landed their first No. 1 Billboard album with just 44,000 copies sold according to Nielsen SoundScan. The band’s first number one album also marked the music industry’s lowest selling No.1 album in SoundScan history. When independent artists are breaking records and albums aren’t selling, we are faced to see what is happening with the music, or lack thereof. The variety of choice we have access to with the internet widely available at our fingertips has dispersed different kinds of music through different kinds of mediums, reaching different types of people. It is becoming hard for the industry to break an artist that will have a mass appeal and continue to crank out hits and records.

Sales from independent albums and labels continue to rise. Although they are small, there are many and there is power in numbers when it comes to music. With indie labels accounting for 80% of America’s music, those independent labels maintain the rights to the recordings. As the major labels are consolidating, and dwindling to only a couple at the top, the indies are thriving and seizing the opportunities in the loopholes and cracks in the system. Indies are giving consumers options that the major labels could never support. Independent artist and labels look toward the internet as their main realm of reaching the consumer. Because the consumer sees it on the internet first, it is now the bloggers and tastemakers on the internet that are telling us what we should listen to.

The structure of the music industry is drastically changing. With the major labels dwindling down, it is likely that only one will make it to the top.  With Warner seeking buyers, EMI owning to corporate bank Citigroup, Sony announced its plan to lay off 300 workers at one of its two CD-manufacturing plants this March. Developing technology is making it easier than ever to become your own record label, record producer, and PR company. Independent artists and entrepreneurs are leveling the playing field with the major labels, changing the face of the industry and the way business is done.

Works Cited

1.     Christman, Ed. “U.S. Album Sales Fall 12.8% in 2010, Digital Tracks Eke Out 1% Gain | Billboard.com.” Billboard.com. 5 Jan. 2011. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. <http://www.billboard.com/news/u-s-album-sales-fall-12-8-in-2010-digital-1004137859.story#/news/u-s-album-sales-fall-12-8-in-2010-digital-1004137859.story>.

2.     Potential Buyers Place Bids For Warner Music.” FMQB. 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2011. <http://www.fmqb.com/article.asp?id=2117528>.

3.     Christman, Ed. “Match Point.” Billboard 5 Feb. 2011: 5. Print.

4.     Christman, Ed. “Take It To The Bank.” Billboard 12 Feb. 2011: 5. Print.

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Music Downloading Changes Industry

Napster, a file sharing website, was started in 1999 and began the era of digital piracy. In 2001 the Recording Industry Association of America filed suit against the website and it was shut down. Since then, the industry has been struggling to keep piracy under control. The technological boom and the opportunities that the Internet provides are not only affecting revenue, but are definitely influencing how the music industry runs. It is creating so much change throughout the industry because the Internet gives so many different ways for people to access music.
The problems that we are having with digital downloading is making the industry find different ways to make money and basically changing their whole business model. “Music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax,” according to the RIAA The old business model could create super stars that sold out 40,000 seat venues and artists that could sell a million records no problem. The reason being was because there were only so many mediums that people could access music, therefore people would listen and buy the same records. Now there are so many ways that artists can make their music known. People now have a wider variety to choose the type of music they want to listen to and acquire.
According to the law, all of my friends are criminals because they download music illegally. I agree that music downloading is definitely shattering the music business model and is essentially stealing from those that would otherwise make a profit from the sales, but downloading isn’t going anywhere. If there is a question of right and wrong, of course that is not negotiable, but so many people don’t believe they should have to pay for music. At this point, I honestly think there is no reason to steal music, because music is not at all expensive. Especially if a consumer only wants to purchase a single. Since we know that piracy isn’t going anywhere, we should think about the positive aspects of free music.
Even though artists aren’t getting their money for the songs that people are downloading illegally, they are getting the exposure to more consumers and by word of mouth. The more downloads they get, the more publicity and recognition. As we see, the business is changing and we need to realize the way the labels look at downloading has to change in order to make money.
Instead of fully embracing the change, they are suing consumers that are downloading illegally. They recently required a woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset to cough up $1.5 million for downloading and sharing 24 songs on Kazaa. Ridiculous? Absolutely. But they have officially set a platform for future cases, and a basic standard.
Illegal downloading is wrong, I don’t agree with it, but since it is going to continue, the business needs to find a different way to make their money. As we go forward in this business, I’m sure labels will continue to sue consumers for a profit, but they should focus on the good it’s doing for the artist. In a perfect world, consumers would understand and appreciate the value of music and want to pay for it, but I don’t think that will ever happen. I wish I had a solution to our problem, a new business model, but as technology continues to develop our business will as well.
Bibliography
Grossman, Lev. “The Battle Over Music Piracy – TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME.com. 24 May 2007. Web. 22 Feb. 2011.
“RIAA – Piracy: Online and On The Street – February 24, 2011.” RIAA – Recording Industry Association of America – February 24, 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.
Boutin, Paul. “The Age of Music Piracy Is Officially Over | Magazine.” Wired.com. 29 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.
“US Woman Fined $1.5 Million for Music Piracy of 24 Songs | Music Blog.” Music Blog. 6 Nov. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.
“Napster, Inc. — Company History.” Find Funding with Banks, Investors, and Other Funding Sources | FundingUniverse. Web. 22 Feb. 2011

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The Future Of Gaming

Motion Recognition: The Future of Gaming

The gaming industry has been changing drastically ever since the development of motion-sensor games in the beginning of the 21st century. The first mainstream motion-sensor game to reach the market was the Ninetendo Wii, which was released in the fourth quarter of 2006. Though the accuracy of the device was not perfect, it was clear that the device would become successful. Many attachments were made for the device and different genres of games could be developed for the Wii, whether they are exercise games with a platform to stand on, or a shooter game with a plastic gun. Towards the end of the decade other companies like Sony and Microsoft had developed successful motion recognition gaming devices known as the Playstation Move and the Xbox Kinect, respectively. It is inevitable that the gaming industry is heading in a direction that is more motion-sensor based.

Wii Controller Gun Attachment

Wii controller attachments such as the gun, tennis racket, baseball bat, and golf club.

The Xbox Kinect has been available for approximately four months, and in the first 60ays on the market, Microsoft has already sold over eight million units (Clemens, 2011). In the four months that the system has been on the market Microsoft has already produced over twenty games for the Kinect (Alexis, 2010). Part of the appeal of the Kinect is that a majority of the games being produced are family-friendly. Also, like Nintendo, Microsoft has developed fitness games for the Kinect. With the awareness of health concerns today, and the increasing number of people who are obese, these fitness games, which are an easy and accessible way for people to workout, are doing very well.

Xbox Kinect motion recognition camera

The Wii has been the most successful out of the three consoles, but it has also been around the longest. Though it has worse graphics than both the Xbox and the Playstation, and arguably slower technology within the console to recognize the motion of the user, it has had the most success. Since 2006, Nintendo has produced approximately one thousand games. Like the Kinect, when the Wii first came out Nintendo had produced about twenty games. In a little over four years, the number of Wii games being produced has grown exponentially.

The Playstation Move was the last of the three to launch, but has been received as the most technologically advanced. In the first month, Sony had shipped approximately two and a half million units between Europe and North America, and after two months a little over four million units had been sold worldwide. The Move has been on the market for about six months, and in that time Sony has produced over fifty games for the system. Most of the Sony games are used with the highly touted motion-plus controller, rather than just the player standing in front a receiving camera, like with the Xbox Kinect. The Move has the better technology, and it is only going to get better, which will lead consumers to purchase more as the games get better.

Sony Move controller accurately depicts a bow and arrow, despite having no attachment

Playstation Move Controllers

As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons that the motion recognition games are so successful is because of their exercise games. Both the “Wii Fit” and the Kinect’s version of an exercise game titled “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” calculate fitness levels, body mass index, and create workout plans for individuals. Also, all three consoles have dancing games, which require the user to either stand on a platform or in front of a camera while performing dance moves that require the gamer to pump out high levels of physical activity. Parents like to purchase the consoles for their children because they have access to the exercise games themselves. People used to think that videogames were damaging to peoples’ health, but with the development of motion sensor exercise games, video games are actually being considered healthy.

Wii Fit Soccer

Playstation Move Zumba

XBox Kinect "Your Shape Fitness"

In just five years since the release of the first mainstream motion recognition console, there have been approximately 1,100 games developed between the three main consoles. There have been advancements in attachments for the consoles, as well as in the technology within the controllers and the systems. Right now there are about the same number of Nintendo games being produced for the Wii as there are for all of Nintendo’s other systems combined. The Kinect and The Move are too young for the same to be said for them, but I predict that within the next five to ten years there will be more motion sensor games being produced on the market for the Wii, Kinect, and Move than games being produced for handheld devices like the Sony PSP and Nintendo Gameboy. As technology increases, and the demand for more realistic games does as well, motion sensor games will be the future of the gaming industry.

References:

Clemens. (2011, January 6th). Kinect family is now 8 million big. 123 Kinect, Retrieved from http://123kinect.com/kinect-sells-millions/

Wagner, Janet. (2010, December 5th). How motion sensor technology is revolutionizing video games. Article Base, Retrieved from http://www.articlesbase.com/technology-articles/how-motion-sensor-technology-is-revolutionizing-video-games-3790962.html

Nintendo game list. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.nintendo.com/games/gameGuide

Alexis, Lee. (2010, November). Natal is out! kinect is in. Hub Pages, Retrieved from http://hubpages.com/hub/Kinect-Games-List

Wii: the total story. (2011, January). IGN, Retrieved from http://wii.ign.com/launchguide/hardware1.html

Playstation®move motion controller to hit worldwide market starting this september bundle packs, attractive software titles and peripheral to accompany the launch, further enhancing the playstation move experience. (2010, June 16). Sony.Inc, Retrieved from http://scei.co.jp/corporate/release/100616ae.html

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A New Trend of TV Industry

“Federal regulators on Tuesday approved Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal, allowing for a joint venture that puts a vast library of television shows and movies under the control of the nation’s biggest cable and broadband Internet service provider.” (Cecilia Kang, THE WASHINGTON POST)

In the past several months, ‘Comcast’ and ‘NBC’ have become both popular topics on search engines as well as common source of conversation. Comcast and NBC have finally reached an agreement after discussing consolidation for almost a year.

A few days ago, “the FCC approved the merger of NBC Universal and Comcast, which means Comcast will now own 51% of NBC, and have stakes in CNBC, MSNBC, Hulu, and Telemundo” (Paul, Paragraph1). This merger is considered one of the most significant events in the history of modern media. Unfortunately for the corporations though. The Justice Department and FCC feel that such a massive concentration of power may not be good for the industry.

The merging between the two big corporations may begin shaping the industry into a monopoly. People fear that the new of the industry setup will give this newly formed corporation absolute power and the ability to control media in whatever ways they want.

Many discussions have begun circulating on the Internet. People have developed concerns about the effects of the merge. First, “the price of cable packages may go up.” (Kevin Whitelaw, paragraph2) This is the topic of most concern circulating on the Internet. Comcast ultimately did not give the best feedback when it came to prices and raising rates. Because of the new Comcast monopolistic characteristics, the FCC decided to intervene and ensure that Comcast did not withhold any of its networks from other providers, such as Dish Network or DirecTV. Comcast must also offer these networks at a reasonable cost. According to NYT, Comcast has stated that six out of every seven networks on its cable systems will have absolutely no affiliation with Comcast; therefore it is not going to start raising prices. Comcast ultimately does not want to lose its customers to its competitors.

People are also worried about how Internet access will be affected by the merger. The FCC has not given Comcast/NBC the kind of power to take control of the Internet, but who knows what will happen in the future. Comcast now owns Hulu, Hulu was already becoming a pay-service. “In short, the FCC has stipulated that this merger must not result in unfair market prices. Even better, the merger means that Comcast must now offer affordable, stand-alone Internet access so that we, the viewers, can access videos without having to purchase cable TV” said from a netizen. “The FCC said the Comcast-NBC Universal combination will be required to take steps to increase competition in the video marketplace. In addition, Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500) has committed to expanding local news coverage, expand programs for Spanish-speaking viewers and offer Internet access to schools and libraries.” (Kristen Hamill, CNN)

Further, people are wondering what will happen to TV programs. Will Comcast subscribers get NBC shows? Fortunately, Comcast will be happy to know that the answer is “No!” People should not worry about missing The Office, 30 Rock, SNL, Biggest Loser, or any of those favorite shows. The FCC has made it quite clear that Comcast must provide reasonable channel lineup if people have Dish Network or DirecTV.

From these possibilities listed above, the public can be assured that even though Comcast has a huge influence on the industry, the FCC will prevent them from any unfair practices. The FCC implemented many rules and regulations to keep things in order, and the industry safe

No matter how TV trends will revolution lice in the future, the public, and their media, will hopefully always be able to rely on the FCC to keep them safe from industries monopolizing.

Sources:

Kang, Cecila. “Post Tech – Update: FCC, Justice Approve Comcast and NBC Joint Venture.” Blog Directory (washingtonpost.com). 18 Jan. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. <http://voices.washingtonpost.com/posttech/2011/01/the_federal_communications_com_8.html?hpid=topnews>.

Paul, Michael. “How Will The Comcast/NBC Merger Really Affect You? | Wise Bread.” Wise Bread | Personal Finance and Frugal Living Forums. 21 Jan. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. <http://www.wisebread.com/how-will-the-comcastnbc-merger-really-affect-you>.

Whitelaw, Kevin. “6 Ways Comcast-NBC Deal Could Affect Consumers : NPR.” NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. 11 Dec. 2009. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121337359>.

Hamill, Kristen. “Comcast-NBC Merger Approved by FCC – Jan. 18, 2011.” Business, Financial, Personal Finance News – CNNMoney.com. 18 Jan. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2011. <http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/18/technology/fcc_comcast_nbc/index.htm>.

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Cloud-based Music Subscription Services

If your business model stops making money, change your business model.  It is a simple rule of business.  We are seeing such changes happen currently in the music industry.  For several reasons, artists and record labels are not selling records.  According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged from $14.6 Billion in 1999 to $6.3 Billion in 2009 (ifpi.org).  The decline in physical and digital music sales has had several drastic effects on the music industry including layoffs, consolidation, and downsizing amongst major music companies.  However, another major effect of the industry decline is a change in the way music is consumed.  Recently, we have seen a global rise in cloud-based music subscription services.  Soon, these services will become the primary platform for music consumption, surpassing physical and digital retail sale.

Currently, digital sales are the primary way of music consumption.  In 2008, Apple announced that its iTunes Store it had surpassed Wal-Mart as the number one music retailer in the U.S.  Since 2008, iTunes has continued to dominate as the leading music seller.  According to the National Purchase Diary Group’s 2010 press release, Walmart and Amazon tie for second behind iTunes (NPD.com).  The business model of these retailers is very simple; they sell music in a basic retail model.  With the current poor economic climate and rampant music piracy, these basic retail models are declining.

Cloud-based music services are a new business model that has entered the market.  These services have a large collection of music stored online in a “cloud”.  Subscribers can pull music out of the cloud and onto their desktops or mobile devices.  One of the aspects of the cloud-based services that is different than the traditional retail model is that subscribers would have access to the entire cloud of music, as opposed to a single song or album.  Another main difference is the subscription.  Shoppers at the iTunes store or Walmart can purchase any quantity of music and pay for that respective amount.  Cloud-based services usually charge a monthly subscription fee that gives the user access to the full cloud.  Users would have access to their personal library and the entire cloud library from any device that has Internet connection.

Currently, there are a few free cloud-based services that exist in the market in the US.  For example, Grooveshark is a site that allows users to stream music from the cloud online. The service is free and makes revenue from advertisements on the side of the streaming interface.  Other sites like Rhapsody charge a small monthly fee for PC use and offer a steeper fee for additional mobile access.  Spotify is a UK-based service that has yet to hit the US.  The site has three versions: free, $6.91 USD PC-only version, and a $13.83 PC and mobile access version.  The site has created a massive buzz, including an “A-” review from Billboard Magazine (billboard.com).  However, sites like Spotify have been held back from release in the US because of licensing disputes with record labels and publishing companies.  Many publishers believe that the services should pay extra licensing fees for music in the cloud.

Subscription cloud services have potential to become the primary platform of music consumption.  For a small monthly fee, users have access to an enormous music catalog that can be pulled up instantly from their PC or mobile device.  Mobile cloud services could potentially replace mp3 players and iPods because they will give users access to the full cloud from their phone.  These services definitely pose a threat to traditional retail markets like iTunes and Amazon.  In the near future, we will likely see these services surpassing retail as the primary method of music consumption.

Works Cited

Graham, Lee. “Amazon Ties Walmart as Second-Ranked U.S. Music Retailer, Behind Industry-Leader ITunes.” NPD.com. The NPD Group, 26 May 2010. Web. 09 Feb. 2011. <http://www.npd.com/press/releases/press_100526.html>.

Graham, Lee. “The NPD Group: Amazon Ties Walmart as Second-Ranked U.S. Music Retailer, Behind Industry-Leader ITunes.” NPD.com. The NPD Group, 26 May 2010. Web. 09 Feb. 2011. <http://www.npd.com/press/releases/press_100526.html>.

“IFPI Publishes Recording Industry in Numbers 2010.” IFPI. 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 09 Feb. 2011. <http://www.ifpi.org/content/section_news/20100428.html>.

Neumayr, Tom, and Jason Roth. “ITunes Store Top Music Retailer in the US.” Apple.com. Apple, 3 Apr. 2008. Web. 09 Feb. 2011. <http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2008/04/03itunes.html>.

Peoples, Glenn. “Is Spotify Really All That?” Billboard.com. Billboard, 29 Oct. 2010. Web. 10 Feb. 2011. <http://www.billboard.com/news/is-spotify-really-all-that-1004124889.story#/news/is-spotify-really-all-that-1004124889.story>.

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Digital Distribution: A Savior for Artists

Every day new bands emerge in an effort to have a hit record that can push

them to superstardom. Although very few actually make it to the label level, those that do are all faced with a career altering decision; go to a major record label or stay independent. This day and age, many people ask if a major label is necessary to have a successful career in music and since the emergence of the internet, the answer is no. The Internet has led to new mediums of music sales and has had a large impact on physical CD sales, “Cake’s “Showroom of Compassion” bows atop the Billboard 200 with just 44,000. It’s also obviously the tiniest figure racked up by a No. 1-debuting album.” (Billboard).” Since SoundScan began tracking sales, more generations are growing up with the Internet, leveling the playing field for up and coming artists.

The rise of the Internet and digital distribution is taking away the power major labels have held over aspiring artist for decades. For years, major record labels provided content for the CD shelves in shopping malls and retailers. In 1999, the music industry was a $14 billion industry from the control it had over consumers on CD sales. This same power also gave the Majors  the power to create international superstars. As many know it today, they created the allure to the superstar lifestyle. However, websites like Tunecore.com or Reverbnation allow independent artists to pay a cheap flat rate to get their music hosted on an array of online stores such as iTunes. Tunecore operates by charging $ .99/ single or $20/ album. Once your song or album has been uploaded, 3 weeks later your music will be available globally on iTunes, Rhapsody, or Amazon, you keep 70% of royalties from digital downloads and the online host store will take the remaining 30% (Tunecore). Tunecore only takes a flat rate, no percentage; unlike most record labels. Reverbnation is another similar website but operates slightly different. It essentially creates an electronic press kit for the artist. Meaning it gives them a social homepage they can use for a home base fully equipped with bio and show info as well as use it as their medium to get their music to online stores.

With physical album sales down more than 20%, the national media has taken hold of this spiraling trend. The New York Times has even featured such headlines as, “Artist’s find backers as labels wane”, stating, “Now, with the structure of the music business shifting radically, some industry iconoclasts are sidestepping the music giants and inventing new ways for artists to make and market their music — without ever signing a traditional recording contract” (NY times). Clearly the business model is not working for major labels. Since the money is no longer based on CD sales, there are new emerging ways for independent artists to manager their careers; Instead of needing a record label, which traditionally has everything from distribution, to marketing, public relations, and Radio departments, to potentially outsourcing the majority of work to private firms. Essentially contracting the different departments a label would provide to work for you. If an artist is able to provide for themself, what a Major normally would provide for an artist, as well as own the rights to their music and release it to the same grand spectra of consumers a Major could, why would signing to a Major be a good move?

The wave of digital distribution provides a platform for independent artists to compete with household names for chart positions. Some argue that record labels still have the power to make an artist an international superstar. However, these digital distribution websites are capable of releasing your music in global digital markets and even household names, such as Jay-Z, have used Tunecore to release their music. Given the fact signing a recording contract requires you to sign an unfavorable royalty split and alternative options for an artist to get their music heard; the demand for a major label is in grave danger.

Bibliography

Billboard

Caulfield, Keith. “Cake Scores Lowest-Selling No. 1 Album in SoundScan History | Billboard.com.” Music News, Reviews, Articles, Information, News Online & Free Music | Billboard.com. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. <http://www.billboard.com/news/cake-scores-lowest-selling-no-1-album-in-1004139371.story#/news/cake-scores-lowest-selling-no-1-album-in-1004139371.story>.

NY Times

Stone, Brad. “Artists Find Backers as Labels Wane – NYTimes.com.” Mergers, Acquisitions, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds – DealBook – NYTimes.com. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. <http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/artists-find-backers-as-labels-wane/>.

Tunecore

“Facts.” TuneCore : Digital Music Distribution – Sell Your Music Online. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. <http://www.tunecore.com/>.

Seattle Times

Pham, Alex. “Business & Technology | Digital-distribution of Music Goes from Fee to Flat Rate | Seattle Times Newspaper.” The Seattle Times | Seattle Times Newspaper. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2013366433_bttunecore08.html>.

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The Disembodiment of MTV’s “Skins”

Skins first aired on January 17th of this year, and attracted an abnormally large audience of 3.3 million viewers – for the first episode alone.  MTV produced the show and after months of publicizing it attracted a little more than just positive attention.  After the first episode aired MTV got slammed with an extremely controversial debate – the portrayal of child pornography.
Skin’s hoped to be MTV’s new hottest show by producers, and the station was due to pick up another hit show.  Their ratings were plummeting with only two shows that were holding up and attracting any notable audiences – them being Teen Mom and Jersey Shore.  You couldn’t turn on your television without seeing teasers for Skins, which depicted a very racy fictional interpretation of the crazy lives of teenagers.  MTV picked up the concept of Skins from the original British series, which started in January of 2007, which is still presently airing.  It was a huge hit over seas, and MTV was counting on the same explosion of interest in the states.

After the show first aired the interest and attention in the US wasn’t exactly where producers hoped it would go.  Skins is made to be edgy – and show teenagers doing risky behaviors such as drugs, and partying.  They display teenagers in ‘reality’ like situations – with scenes of different levels of intimacy and sex. “The remade episodes, like the ones in Britain, included simulated masturbation, implied sexual assault, and teenagers disrobing and getting into bed together,” says New York Times journalist Brian Stelter.

The main clip that pushed the boundaries of what is television-acceptable, and led to concerned officials, was during the episode that aired on January 31st.  A seventeen-year-old actor appeared naked running down the street, and constant jokes were made about his erection –  MTV’s executive producers were concerned by this scene before it even aired.

And it is understandable why – since displaying any nudity of people under the age of 18 is illegal.  MTV has been pushing these boundaries since it began.  It is one of the only stations that do so – that try to get as close as they can to that line of what is appropriate without crossing it – yet Skins crossed it.

Melissa Yandell an avid watcher of the show says, “I don’t think it should be a problem, I don’t know why yet – but I’m not bothered by it.  A lot worse happens in the world than some actress choosing to show her bootay.”  Though this may be true, and television consumers of today are used to seeing racy images, such as naked adolescents, it may go beyond offending its viewers – it may be a federal offense.

Vanessa Ho stated on her blog, “Child pornography is defined by the United States as any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In some cases, ‘a picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive,’ according to the Justice Department’s legal guidance. Anyone younger than 18 is considered to be a minor.”  – the youngest actor on the show is fifteen.

The Parents Television Council, a group that launches campaigns against television programs that can be portrayed as indecent, was also called upon to do an investigation after discovering the ages of the actors.  They were called upon to investigate child porn and exploitation laws.

The reason that the British episodes didn’t cause any controversy was that all of their actors were adults.  They portrayed teenagers, and the show was intended for an audience of young adults and adolescents but there was no use of stars under the age of 18.  Also Britain has “historically displayed a higher tolerance for TV eroticism than the United States” says  Brian Stelter, journalist of the New York Times – the content on the British series is almost identical to that of the United States edition.

After the controversy many of MTV’s Skins sponsors cut ties with the show.  Including Taco Bell, who reported to the New York Times saying that the show was “not for our brand” – after the executives allegedly asked the producers to cut some of the explicit content.  MTV’s only defense was that the show was geared towards adults and not teenagers – and that the content of the show shouldn’t be too explicit for that age group.  This was far from believable since the show itself makes fun of the present adult age group and promotes ideas of this generation’s teenager.

MTV is doing what they can to promote that Skins is just describing the world that we already live in.  “But objectifying teenage pathology, along with teenage bodies, is a complicated business — and the business that MTV is in.” (Carr, David – NYT)

WORKS CITED

Carr, Davis. “MTV’s Naked Calculation Gone Bad.” The New York Times [New York] NYTimes.com. 26 Jan. 2011. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/business/media/24carr.html?_r=1>.

Ho, Vanessa. “MTV’s ‘Skins’ Draws Child Porn Fears, Repels Advertisers (NYT).” The Big Blog. Seatle Pi. 21 Jan. 2011. Web. 4 Feb. 2011. <http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2011/01/21/mtvs-skins-draws-child-porn-fears-repels-advertisers-nyt/>.
Stelter, Brian. “A Racy Show With Teenagers Steps Back From a Boundary.” The New York Times [New York] NYTimes.com. 19 Jan. 2011. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/20/business/media/20mtv.html?_r=1>.

Stelter, Brian. “MTV Is Looking Beyond ‘Jersey Shore’ to Build a Wider Audience.” The New York Times [New York] NYTimes.com. 24 Oct. 2010. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/25/business/media/25mtv.html?_r=1>.

Stelter, Brian. “Taco Bell Pulls Ads From MTV’s ‘Skins’.” The New York Times [New York] NYTimes.com. 21 Jan. 2011. Web. 5 Feb. 2011. <http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/taco-bell-pulls-ads-from-mtvs-skins/>.

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TV: The Movement to the Internet

The way we watch television is changing. I found myself one evening watching three episodes of different television shows on the Internet that I had missed during the week. I realized that I do this all the time and hardly ever watch my favorite shows at their aired times on traditional television; is the increasing demand and relevance of Internet TV and the use of it through On-the-Go media causing traditional TV to become obsolete? A report done by The Convergence Consulting Group claims that 800,000 Americans have cut their cable over the past two years in favor of online TV and these numbers are expected to double over the next year (Fleming, 2010). “Younger generations want programming on the go,” said Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters (Taub, 2010).

It’s clear why this mobile trend is so popular. It’s easy, convenient, and most importantly, free! Utilizing this trend, consumers will be able to customize their television feeds, browse the Web while watching shows, watch programs on-demand and even control their televisions with a mobile phone (Arnold, 2011). In a new study, comprised of 1,927 people from age 12-64 this past April, done by Frank N. Magid Associates on what kind of people are watching online, a surprising 77% of U.S. Internet users were found to be watching online video with 43% viewing something weekly (Rick, 2010). I followed suit by interviewing a few of my friends around campus (18 to be exact) to get a more personal rough idea of how many people utilize Internet TV where I found even stronger results to support this.

But how does the factor of the advance of mobile technology play into this move away from traditional TV? Now people can easily watch their favorite shows on their smart-phones and iPods. Nielsen reported in a February 2009 report on mobile video viewing that the last quarter of 2008 saw an almost 10% increase in this type of media viewership (Waite, 2010). These numbers were from back in 2008; it would be hard to imagine how much they have increased in two years.

So how does the public view the potential of this growing trend? When I asked people in my interviews about the potential of this trend and the demise of traditional TV as we know it, there were mixed views. Many believed that traditional television is still viable and that networks will still produce shows and advertisers will still pay for time slots. Although Internet TV is a growing trend, innovations in traditional television are still being made; examples of this 3D television, HD, DVR, etc. Innovations such as these are becoming more common and could take away from the potential growth of Internet TV. Some described how they enjoy watching programs with others and doing this online or on-the-go makes it a solitary activity. Others, however, thought that traditional television will eventually become obsolete because people will instead be completely using online sources and mobile devices to get their TV fix. It all comes down to what consumers desire and what they’re willing to sacrifice. Whichever outcome is true the fact of the matter is, people are starting to use Internet TV sources more frequently.                           

Now the big question, “Where does advertising, the backbone of TV advertising fit into the equation?” Online advertising has many opportunities and advantages than other types of advertisements. Using the online advertisements through online television, providers will be able to market products all around the globe in a short span of time to the large global audience (laluls212, 2010). Many providers of internet-television services exist including conventional television stations that have taken advantage of online advertising. These websites remain free by using video advertising, short commercials and banner advertisements that usually play at the beginning of the show and in between breaks. “Online television presents a huge opportunity for advertisers because the targeting options are so much better than traditional TV. (Arnold, 2011)” However, advertisers are still increasing their ads on traditional television and are most likely not fully utilizing this option due to the fact that the corporate television giants are often slow to make changes; this will result in lost revenue opportunities. Whether or not this battle of trends between Internet TV and traditional television is hurting the industry or helping by pushing it to be better is up in the air.

Whichever way the situation with online television and on-the-go devices is looked at, the simple fact is that new, innovative types of media that give us the ability to consume wherever and whenever we please is extremely desirable. At the moment, traditional TV is still a viable source of entertainment due to its stability and enduring nature, however, as the trend continues to gain popularity, it is likely that this will change. The integration of this technology could be viewed as either a threat to the industry, resulting in the obsolescence of traditional television and advertising, or as a potential advantage and a chance to diversify the industry and create new money making opportunities. Regardless of the result, we as viewers will be intently watching.

  1. Arnold, J. (2011, January 14). 10 trends for online marketers in 2011. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217923

2.   Fleming , R. (2010, April 16). New report shows people dropping cable tv for web broadcasts. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/new-report-shows-that-more-and-more-people-are-dropping-cable-tv-in-favor-of-web-broadcasts/

3.    laluls212. (2010, June 23). Online advertising using web banners [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://guides.wikinut.com/Online-Advertising-Using-Web-Banners/9i4wve0k/

4.    Rick, C. (2010, April). Online video viewing trends [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.reelseo.com/online-video-viewing-trends/

5.    Taub, E.A. (2010, February 14). Local tv for devices on the move. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/business/media/15mobile.html

6.    Waite, J. (2010, March 1). Television in 2010: viewing trends and the impact of the internet [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2744173/television_in_2010_viewing_trends_and.html?cat=2

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Games: A Developing Market for Advertising

“Even though it may seem counterintuitive for a company to be motivated by profit to give away their product, new techniques involving advertisement that viewers cannot avoid can serve the interests of both gaming companies and advertisers toward the end users’ benefit.”

With the approach of games on mobile devices such as Apple products and other smartphones and tablet computers, games become something that can have an incredibly close relationship to people especially for the younger generation. While so many game companies are trying to get people to play their products, competition gets even more intense. As a result, many games are offered to people free. But free? People will probably wonder how these games can make profit for the company. The answer is quite simple and common: free games are supposed to be sponsored by advertising.  

An ad for another iPhone App placed on the top of the free iPhone game Unbolck Me

        In-game advertising, which means placing advertisements inside of the game where players can see as they play, started around 2004. It was not very big at that time, however, in 2006 when Microsoft decided to pay a big amount of money to Massive which was a company that could get others ads in games, things changed. Microsoft put itself in a position to cash in both from the games sales and from the revenue generated by the inserted ads by buying Massive (Terdiman, 2006). Soon the effective and innovative strategy was picked up by other rivals such as Google, and the modality of putting advertisements in games, was gradually accepted by the public as a new way of how consumers receive messages.  

        Games (including video games, computer games and mobile games) have many elements that make them ideal platforms for advertisements. In the golden age of advertising, the job of the advertiser is more complicated because now there is endless clutter that distracts consumers from receiving information. Also people often have shorter attention spans and cynical views of advertising. To add to these factors, digital video recorders are reducing the visibility of television advertising by allowing viewers to fast-forward over commercials (Glass, 2007). Unlike those other forms of advertisement, advertising in games is technically designed to make it difficult to skip advertisements and the players will always receive messages while they enjoy playing games. Zachary Glass’s study shows people tend to rate higher for a brand that appeared in a video game. That human psychological effect directly resulted in Obama’s favorability after his team ran campaign ads on billboards inside of a racing game for him.  

Jalopnik/Electronic Arts

A screen grab of a Barack Obama billboard in the Xbox Live version of 'Burnout Paradise.'

         I randomly interviewed a student at Syracuse University who currently is using an iPhone with data plan from AT&T. Queenie, a sophomore from Arts & Science department, told me that  she started using her iPhone two years ago. For the last two years, Queenie nearly has been playing games on her iPhone on a daily basis. In her experience, people like her are more than a few and have gradually become the social norm as she can always find people around her to play games together in competing mode. With the prevalence of mobile devices, it allows people to have access to games really easily and conveniently. Just see from those people, you can imagine how potentially big the market can be. As Queenie also mentioned, when she played a game, an advertisement would always catch her eyes if it was placed right, to the right target, right direction and in the right position. Generating profits from those advertisements therefore seems very accessible; there will be big chances to gain huge amounts of money not only for the advertising company but also for the company that possesses physical or virtual goods (Takahashi, 2009).     

H&M virtual goods

         Market reports indicate more advertisers are moving more of their ad dollars to the games. The ads spend on game advertising in the U.S. was at $370 million in 2006 and this is expected to expand to $2 billion by 2010, and it is casual/PC/mobile an in-game advertising that will reap this revenue. In 2006 this accounted for 27% of the game advertising market, and by 2012 it will account for more than 80%. This is big money and big business and represents another stage in social advertising that can potentially transform advertising as we know it (Fisher, 2010). When the potential of in-game advertising as making profits will be fully discovered, the whole structure of the gaming industry might change and the revenue that comes from the industry could be boomed. It is the only source of moving and developing the industry since game developing needs much money to cover things such as a strong server, related hard wares also labor fees. That means, consider yourself as one of those game developers, advertisers, game player and even phone users, the tactic will definitely create a new trend for you to keep up with.  

References   

Fisher, L. (2010, October 17). Trends in In-Game Advertising. Retrieved from

http://www.simplyzesty.com/advertising/trends-ingame-advertising/

Glass, Z. (Fall 2007). The Effectiveness of Product Placement In Video Games. Retrieved from http://74.125.155.132/scholar?q=cache:XPIluCexCHEJ:scholar.google.com/+advertising+placement+in+games&hl=en&as_sdt=0,33

Nielsen (2010, November). Top 10 Video Games. Retrieved from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/top10s/video_games.html\

Queenie (2011, February). Interviewee.

Takahashi, D. (2009, May 15). The Top 12 Trends of the Video Game Industry. Retrieved from http://venturebeat.com/2009/05/15/the-top-12-trends-of-the-video-game-industry/

Terdiman, D. (2006, April 25). Microsoft said to be buying Massive. Retrieved from http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-6065125-7.html

Various (2008, October). Recent Articles on Ads and Video Games. Retrieved from http://www.frankwbaker.com/videogameads.htm

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