We live in a world of unprecedented pace, which
naturally has created an unsustainable environment. This is undeniably true
with how we see the internet functioning today, and the detrimental effects it
is having on the media industries. It is
here we see prosumers breaking professional categories, with the free web
creating a networked environment where siren servers are threatening net
neutrality, fabricating an unsustainable flow of creation and money, leading to
music’s value no longer being determined by itself but all that surrounds it.
By addressing mass
amateurisation, mass collaboration, internet freedom and the use of digital
information we endeavour to explore how the invention of blockchain and bitcoin
to combat the instabilities of today’s internet framework, can be applied to
music industry practices in terms of music consumption, production and distribution. We know that better is
possible, so with awareness that people have become so networked, can we come
together as a community and change the reality of the web to better our
individual value and that as musicians and professional creators?
As we make the
transition into the era of a semantic web, we see how technologies disrupt the
complacency of industries, such as music, that do not carefully think about the
implications of the internet.
Mass amateurisation refers to the capabilities that
new forms of media, such as the internet have given to regular people as
consumers and the ways in which they have applied this freedom to create and
distribute content, undermining the need for professional creators and
publishers, with it now being up to the people of the internet to decipher what
is valuable, which is threatening the existence of those professional creators.
Digital technologies are enabling new forms of
collaborative creativity and innovation, which is growing a sharing economy.
This connected network of innovation is great for democracy, equality and
freedom as more people will know what it is like to be inclusive and creative.
Although we must understand that the web is not technology, it is people.
Diverse people sharing their ideas and information. (Gauntlett, D).
Media used to be a way of transferring information,
a one-way broadcast but today the digital network has formed a collaborative
group behaviour that has grown two-way communication. People that used to be
uncoordinated can now come together in ways they couldn’t before (Shirky, C.
2008). This means that artists are hearing consumer voices more easily and
frequently than ever before. Gauntlett sees one of the most important things
about platforms like YouTube is how they have enabled users to feel as though
they’re able to make a creative contribution to the world. That if people are
given the tools, they can make an original stamp in society, hence why
platforms like YouTube and SoundCloud are facilitating the infinite production
and distribution of music.
Everyday users are being elevated and professionals
are being undermined. The internet is an enabler and driver of people’s
creativity and innovation, but peoples mass use of it has disrupted media
industry practises (Gauntlett, D). No longer do we see special ideas coming
from special people in special places, the audience is taking to the stage and
millions of people can have their say (Leadbeater, C). This has led to valuable
professional music and production to get lost in the infinite sharing of data.
This collaboration has disruptive power, causing
professional categories to be broken and undermined, as prosumers (Toffler,
1980) are creating too much free content, that is shifting our expectations
about where valuable ideas, entertainment and learning can come from. We see
this with the rise of apps such as AirBnb which devalue big companies like
travel agents, and with the creation of music tuition apps there is less demand
for skilled musicians to be contributing to the education system.
Everyday people with creative ideas are shifting our
expectations about where valuable ideas and entertainment can come from, which
continues to undermine professional products. ‘In a world where publishing is
effortless, the decision to publish something isn’t tremendous’ (McLuhan,
1967). Now that there is no filter you now have to work out what value your
consumers are going to get from your music. Is it the specific tempo or
composition you created, the emotions your music provoked or is it simply all
the things that surround it, such as everything you associate with such as
brand and image. By associating with that reputation will allow them to
continue richly contributing to this digital network. ‘Serving consumers is
complex, their needs cannot be defined by location, application, or device
alone. That’s what makes them prosumers’ (Toffler, 1980). It’s not one
technology making this happen, it’s the internet’s surroundings and potential
that is creating this ecosystem level of change.
This brings us to another issue, the culture
industries have transformed the internet from a free public browsing place into
a private distribution platform, a place to monetise personal data and user
activity. This brings to surface further underlying problems, not only as
professionals are we being undermined but we have lost our financial power.
Big monopolies monetise the data trails you leave
whether this be your location, browsing or purchase history. All the while
companies are battling it out with each other it’s the consumer that suffers
(through platform incompatibility, obsolete formats) (Leadbeater, 2008). There
is also targeted advertising, and these limits and lack of control at access
points across the web are affecting the rights and equality of the average
user. As an example, streaming sites are having more financial gain off a song
than the artist themselves. Online activity is not being guided by free choice
with net neutrality and the free access for every user is being threatened,
especially considering powerful media organisations are not easily shoved aside
and those with money are often able to have the loudest voice. This brings to
mind Apple, with invention of their devices and services such as Apple Music
and Safari, this huge corporation controls the majority of our technology and
therefore traceable data. They generate a circle of individual wealth which is
unsustainable for the rest of the economy. Furthering financial empowerment,
people who make videos or songs and share them on YouTube are being exploited,
because YouTube typically keeps most of the money that it gets from placing
adverts beside the content. Although here the creator is not always expecting
money. So, with free content (which as a musician is our competition) is being
threatened, what hope are we left with?