Tag Archives: MED4109

MED4106 Radio & Popular Music Reading Response Week 8

Audiences, Technology & Consumption

WeeIn A. J. Baker’s ‘College Student Net-Radio Audiences’ he introduces the reader to the idea of Net Radio which is an interactive global medium which allows users to view content on demand and become part of the online community. It creates ‘relationships between producers, industries and audiences’ unlike traditional radio and allows for more audience interaction as well.

The text I found was ‘Music Consuption: Lifestyle, Choice or Addiction’ by Cockrill, Sullivan and Norbury and investigates whether people can be addicted to listening to music. Because of digitalisation, most types of media can be consumed any time and in any place but it can also have both a negative and positive impact on other aspects of life. This is because of MP3 technology which means it is possible to carry round 1000s of songs on a portable player which could lead to compulsive use.

In Baker’s study on Net-Radio, the key consumers they targeted for their study as they found that 1/3 of college student had changed from traditional radio to net radio. Similarly to this, the Music Consumption investigation also targeted 18-35 year olds as they were found to be the main users of MP3 devices. This shows that within the past few years since both of these investigations took place, young people up to the age of 35 are seen as the primary users of technology.

This idea can be further enforced as the results from Baker’s survey found that youths were disappointed with traditional radio. The main reasons identified in the text for preferring Net Radio were for the wider range of context and variety. 44% of respondents stated that they listened to both traditional radio and net radio which suggests that although the programmes on tradition radio are suitable for the age range and audience, but there is not enough of it to keep that particular group from looking online for more content.

The Music Consumption survey also found that many people of the age range were ‘heavy users’ of music. These people would find the music they listen to having a negative impact on their social life and affecting their jobs, work and sleep. This also suggests that this age range is the most active users of technology. The interactive elements of Net Radio and many new MP3 players mean that consumers using these technologies are becoming more active as it is easier for them to interact with different forms of media. This can also result in a ‘bottom-up’ media model with consumers becoming producers as the technology becomes available for them to do it easily and cheaply.

Based on this information, if I was to do research on the impact of technology on audiences I would look at how people of different ages collect music now in comparison to 5, 10 or 15 years ago and why they have changed or stayed the same over the years. I could then analyse how  different age groups largely collect music and look at why they choose particular formats.

Refrences

Baker, A. J, (2010). College Student net-radio audiences: A Transnational Perspective. Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media. 8 (2), pp.121-137

Cockrill, A, Sullivan, M, & Norbury, H.L, 2011, ‘Music Consumption: Lifestyle Choice or Addiction,’ Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 160-166

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MED4106 Radio & Popular Music Reading Response Week 7

Conceptualising the Audience

In ‘Radio In the Global Age,’ Hendy talks about how consumers of radio can be seen as either active or passive depending on it is used. For example, a consumer can interact with the radio (phoning or texting in, social network pages, website) or just have it left on one station as background noise. The text also discusses Abercrombie’s ideas of what makes audiences passive when listening to the radio which are:

  • ‘The content of programmes is trivial’
  • ‘The mode of viewing/listening is passive’
  • ‘The set of effects on the audience is narcotizing’

‘The Handbook of Media Audiences’ (Nightingale, 2011) includes audience theories by several theorist with different views on passive and active audiences. However, in the introduction, Nightingale states that she sees audiences as active, resulting in the amateur production of film, music and photography. However she does find it debatable whether use of social media can be considered active ‘new media audiences.’

As well as Abercrombie in ‘Radio and the Global Age,’ Adorno also believes that audiences are passive and that all media texts are read in the same way the homogenous mass of consumers. However, in ‘The Handbook of Media Audiences,’ Stuart Hall, whose incorporation/resistance model made him influential in audience theory disagrees with Adorno as he does not believe that audience automatically take the dominant reading of a text. He has stated that ‘reading or viewing constitutes a complex negotiation that creates multiple interpretation.’ (1979/91) Hall’s encoding/decoding model understands that audience members might read the oppositional or negotiated reading of a text.

Hendy critiques Adorno and Abercrombie’s view of all audiences as passive and believes they ‘underestimate the freedom of listeners to create meaning.’ This is supported by David Gauntlett in ‘The Handbook of Media Audiences’ with his Lego experiment (2006). This involved getting volunteers to make a Lego model as a visual metaphor for their identities. This suggests that consumers are able to create meaning themselves and do not rely on media texts to give them the dominant idea.

I felt that Hendy’s reading reflected parts of this week’s lecture. For example, Adorno’s views stated in this reading conform to the Marxist Popular and Mass Media Critique approach. Adorno believed that popular media was made by culture industries and were false needs sold to homogeneous passive consumers. He also felt that the accessibility of popular culture meant that high culture such as art and classical music were being forgotten.

I think for research into this area I would look at a range of polysemic media texts and hear the preferred readings from people of difference ages, genders, backgrounds and cultures to see how varied their responses are. I could then look to see if there are any patterns between similar groups of people.

Refrences

Hendy, D, (2000). ‘Audiences’. In: (ed), Radio in the Global Age. 1st ed. UK: Polity Press. pp.(134-147).

Nightingale, V. 2011, ‘The Handbook of Media Audiences,’ Wiley-Blackwell,  Malden

MED4106 Radio & Popular Music Reading Respose Week 5

Representations on Radio: Discourse & Power

In ‘Rock & Sexuality’ (Frith & McRobbie, 1990) the idea the rock music often has sexual messages is suggested. They state that youth subculture adopted an ideological meaning through consumer cultures. However, they do agree that it can have many meanings, some of which contradict each other as representations of both masculinity and femininity are evident.

In ‘Popular Music and Youth Culture’ (2000), Bennett states how popular music became part of youth culture in the 1950s, alongside the gain in popularity of rock ‘n’ roll and the ‘birth of the teenager.’ This text also includes Adorno’s argument that music is ‘pre-programmed’ and follows guidelines in order to get a specific response from the audience. He also believes that this response comes so easily that no listening skills are required from the audience to understand the message. He contrasts popular music with high culture music such as classical which requires attention and focus to understand and appreciate, unlike popular music which ‘dictates how we listen to it.’

The two texts both discuss male and female roles in rocks music and how they think that rock music is male dominated. Firstly, Frith and McRobbie discuss how the majority of musicians, writers and business people involved in rock music are male. They also describe two types of music which show contrasting male presences: Cock Rock and Teenybop. Cock Rock is the aggressive, dominating and boastful presence front men often have in bands to create the image of a typical rockstar. Teenybop contrasts with this and describes the younger ‘teen idol’ style rock star who is aimed at a female audience rather than other men. However, Bennett suggests that front men often challenge gender stereotypes and rarely ‘declare a fixed sexual identity.’ This is also similar with women, for example, Annie Lennox has short hair and regularly wears suits.

Frith and McRobbie also believe that the ‘male dominance in the rock business is evident in…the musical careers of female rockstars’ as they are either associated with females singers of other genres or have to become ‘one of the boys’ to be seen as a rockstar. An example given is ABBA where the men wrote the songs, played the instruments and made all the decisions for the band while the women just sang what the men wrote and looked glamorous. Bennett also agrees that traditional gender stereotypes are often reinforced in the music industry and draws upon Robert Walser’s research into heavy metal music which found that a ‘legitimisation of male power and control’ in the lyrics and music videos even though sexism is not usually related to that kind of music. Similarly to this Jeffrey Arnett’s research found that female fans of metal music often ‘struggle to reconcile their enthusiasm for heavy metal with their sense of being not quite welcome in that world.’

For research into this area I would look at the mediated image of a performer and compare it to their personality off stage or in interviews.

Refrences

Bennett, A. 2000, ‘Popular Music and Youth Culture: Music Identity and Plance, Macmillan, Basingstoke

Frith, S & McRobbie, A, (1990). ‘Rock & Sexuality’. In: Simon Frith & Andrew Goodwin (ed), On Record: Rock, Pop & the Written Word. 1st ed. UK: Pantheon Books. pp.(371-389).

MED4106 Radio & Popular Music Reading Response Week 4

Popular Music Genres & Narratives

In ‘Studying Popular Music Culture’ (Wall, 2003) the opinions of various academics with different ‘processes of genre identification’ are discussed. The general view of genre is the different styles of music, for example, rock, metal or dance music. However, some theorists including Alan Moore suggest that the ‘musical form’ is the genre, for example a ballad or love song. However, Robert Walser believes that the genre of music can differ based on fan’s opinions and the expansion of genre that can results from a certain genre becoming popular or influential.

‘Popular Music and Local Identity’ (Mitchell, 1996) categorises music using styles which have progressed through time. For example, the popularity of indie rock began in the 1980s during the post-punk era when independent labels began signing ‘alternative rock’ bands alongside the introduction of Britpop. Mitchell also explains in detail how one genre can create another.

Wall suggests that genres can expand and form sub-genres, for example, Dance Music led to House and Garage, both names after the places they were originally played most. Techno music was also named after certain producers of dance music began using more forms of technology. Mitchell discusses the idea of ‘musical appropriation’ which involves borrowing or copying ‘a phrase or style or sound or inflection’ which can lead to new genres. An example of this would be the transition from Punk Rock to Grunge or the combination of Reggae and Techno that led to Jungle. However, this can also be seen as a ‘betrayal of origins’ by audiences who don’t want genres of music to be copied or changed. He also notes that ‘musical appropriation’ can result in copyright issues. Mitchell’s text focussed on the development of entirely new genres rather than Wall’s ideas of expansion into sub-genres.

These readings made me think about the relationship between producers, distributors and consumers in the music industry and how they each view genre differently. For example, a producer, or musician would most likely be aiming to make music in a certain style or genre, possibly similar to their influences and other similar artists. Distributors would be the managers or workers at a record label who would decide where the music was distributed and how it was promoted and could categorize it a certain way to make the intended target audience buy it. Finally, the consumers are the audiences looking for music to buy and possible basing their decisions on music they’ve previously bought of the same genre.

If I was going to research this area I would analyse an online music store such as the iTunes store. I would look at the recommended tracks and albums that are suggested based on previous purchases and see why the store sees them as similar. I would look to see if the name of the genre, the tempo, the vocals or the overall sound were the same.

Refrences

Mitchell, T. 1996, ‘Popular Music and Local Identity: Rock, Pop and Rap in Europe and Oceania, Leicester University Press, Londno

Wall, T, (2003). ‘Genre’. In: (ed), Studying Popular Music Culture. 1st ed. UK: Hodder & Stoughton Educational. pp.(179-188).

MED4106 Radio & Popular Music Reading Response Week 3

Political Economy

‘The Political Economy of Music Radio’ (2004) by Tim Wall looks at ‘critical political economy’ which regulates the ‘basic moral questions of justice, equality and the public good.’ Before Internet radio, many theorists did not think commercial radio was diverse enough and therefore was not in the interests of the public good. However, Wall predicted that the Internet would change this as there would be more choice and diversity.

‘Internet Music: Dream or (Virtual) Reality’ (1998) by Kon & Iazzetta describes their hope for Internet Music services. At the time of writing, Internet Music was just ‘one-way streaming of digitalized audio with very little interaction.’ This essay looks at how they think it will develop and the possible problems they will face. They also discuss the technological possibilities and constraints and possibilities of content including live concert broadcasts, education and composition.

Both texts discuss the positive opportunities the Internet is likely to have for the industry. For example, Kon & Iazzetta look into the idea of education through the Internet which had already helped schools and collages with distant learning. This could lead to musical opportunities including lessons and live broadcasts which would be educationally beneficial. For radio, the Internet would mean a wider range of programming which would promote variety and lead to a greater public good. It would also mean less regulation which could be positive as certain types of music could be played or topic discussed.

Also, both essays talk about funding; another aspect of political economy. Technical issues could occur with the creation of Internet Music meaning funding would be necessary for the expansion. There would also be issues involving time constraints, networks and operating systems that could cause problems. Wall’s predictions for the future of Internet Radio include a description of the characteristics of radio, many of which reflect Capitalist economic systems. This is largely because of the profit maximisation of the privately owned stations which suggests that funding would be required to help new stations start up with the introduction of Internet Radio.

As both of these essays were written before these changes had taken place, it shows what the authors saw as priorities in their respective industries. Generally, I think that Kon & Iazzetta prioritise funding for the introduction of Internet Music and Wall prioritises regulation as he sees the importance of diverse content as important. Political Economy is involved with both industries, although the introduction of the Internet into the industries would change it.

To research this area I would look at a current internet radio program and compare its content to an on-air station such as the BBC. I would look at the language used, topics discussed and the music played to see if the regulation is of the same standard. I could also talk to listeners of the Internet Radio station to see if they prefer it because of the content which they cannot get on on-air radio.

Refrences

Kon, F. Iazzetta, F. 1998 ‘Internet Music: Dream or (Virtual) Reality’ In: ‘Proceedings of the 5th Brazilian Symposium of Comupter Music’ pp 69-81

Wall, T, (2004). The Political Economy of Internet Radio. Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media. 2 (1), pp.27-44

MED4106 Radio & Popular Music Reading Response Week 2

Regulation & Moral Panics

In ‘Moral Panic, the Media and British Rave Culture,’ (1994) Sarah Thornton discusses the support youth culture offers underground and sub-cultures as opposed to mass media, especially with music. She focuses on Acid House music which was largely associated with drug use and led to moral panics.

Similarly, in ‘“I’d Sell You Suicide”: Pop Music and Moral Panic in the age of Marilyn Manson,’ (2000) Robert Wright discusses the hegemony of successful artists at the 1998 Grammy Awards (including Elton John, Bob Dylan and James Taylor.) Manson was mocked by the host over a year before the Columbine High School Massacre proving that he was seen as inappropriate even before the moral panic surrounded him. It also discusses how he was disliked by many (mainly older generations) because he was ‘at pains to work his young fans against what he sees as the staid conservatism of their parents’ cultural hegemony.’

Thornton suggests that because of the opposition between subcultures and the media, members of these subcultures want negative coverage in the mass media as an attempt to further distance themselves from ‘commercial’ popular music which they see as a social hierarchy. Write discusses the negative coverage rock music often receives, for example Manson’s lyrics being accused of encouraging suicide. This differs from Thornton’s which suggests members of subcultures don’t appreciate the negative attention. Similar situations have occurred in the past including Ozzy Osborne and Judas Priest being sued by parents and blamed for their children’s suicide or self harm.

Also, Thornton talks about how artists also try to distance themselves from mass culture, not wanting to be seen as ‘sell-outs’ and lose their ‘exclusive ownership’ within their subculture. However, many of these band’s music videos were shown on Top of the Pops suggesting they didn’t mind the mainstream attention and were saying they did to appeal to their fans. Again, this contrasts to the acceptance many rock musicians are denied. Wright writes about other artists including Leonard Cohen and Elton John, both of whom have lyrics that glamorise suicide. It shows that top 40 songs will oftenglamorise suicide more than most rock musicians, but won’t draw any attention because of the genre.

The ideas outlined about rock music are still relevant today as rock bands have been blamed for increases in teen suicide, depression and self-harm. In the lecture this week we looked at Regulation which is meant to be there for diversity, choice and protection, however this is contradictory as when more diverse genres of music become popular, they’re considered dangerous by the media.

To research this area I would compare music videos and lyrics of songs that have been in the UK top 40 recently with the most popular songs of a specific genre, for example, the chart in Metal Hammer Magazine. I would see how many of the lyrics or video for the alternative chart could be linked to problems such as suicide as well as seeing what inappropriate topics the top 40 songs would link to.

Refrences

Thornton, (1994). ‘Moral Panic, The Media & British Rave Culture’. In: Andrew Ross & Tricia Rose (ed), Microphone Fiends, Youth Music & Youth Culture. 1st ed. London: Routledge. pp.(176-192).

Wright, R. 2000, “‘I’d Sell You Suicide:” Pop Music and Moral Panic in the Age of Marylin Manson,” Popular Music, vol 19, no. 3, pp. 365-385

MED4106 Radio & Popular Music Reading Response Week 1

Industries, Institutions & Histories of Radio & Popular Music

In ‘On Air: Methods and Meanings of Radio’ (1998) Shingler and Wieringa discuss the history of UK radio, including the vast expansion and development that occurred from the development of Morse Code in the 1840s until 1997. They also discuss the ethical considerations and progress compared to the USA stations.

Simon Frith’s ‘The Industrialization of Music’ (1998) discusses the implications that the development of technology has on music production, distribution and consumption which turned the music industry into a ‘complex system of money making,’ aided by the ease at which people with little musical talent can produce and sell songs.

Frith’s idea that technological developments make it easier for producers to make money by digitally altering voices or adding music supports Shingler and Wieringa’s as they also discuss the negative impact it has for radio companies; the growth of cheaper and more user friendly equipment led to the expansion of Pirate radio. Unlike the lack of talent Frith believes results from technological advances in the music industry, Pirate radio stations could have benefitted consumers with the lack of diverse radio content in the 1960s. However, this did result in the 1967 Marine Offences Act; the first to outlaw offshore Pirates.

With the development of the music industry, more companies emerged in the music industry selling both new music and audio equipment. More choice for consumers led to competition between different record labels and companies meaning that members of the music industry began viewing artists as ‘commodities’ that could make them money. This was also a cause of the more active role in computer generated music as it was cheaper to produce. Similar competition occurred in the radio industry with the expansion of the BBC leading to ethical considerations to ensure that the station maintained their high standard and ranging audience.

As Frith’s essay criticises the standard of popular music in the 1980s, this made me consider how this is still addressed today. Many artists who regularly appear in the UK top 40 have been criticised for their use of auto-tune and miming during live performances. I find this interesting as the popular music from this era is often considered better in comparison to the current popular music, yet these artists with very little talent are no longer considered an issue from that period. As well as similarities with the current structure of radio, I felt Frith’s writing remains relevant today.

If I was to research this area of the music industry I’d analyse artists from a major label in a variety of genres and with varying degrees of success to compare the promotion they each received and their reception from the public. This would look at whether the development of technology has led to more competition at record labels and corner-cutting in the production of music and how it compares to the 1980s. I would hold focus groups with people of different age groups and analyse footage, promotional items and chart figures as partial memory could make the interviews unreliable.

Refrences

Frith, S, (1988). ‘The industrialisation of Music’. In: (ed), Music for Pleasure: Essays in the Sociology of Pop. 1st ed. e.g. England: Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Incorporated. pp.(11-23).

Shingler, M & Wieringa, C, (1998). ‘Radio time-line: History at a glance’. In: Martin Shingler & Cindy Wieringa (ed), On Air: Methods & Meanings of Radio. 1st ed. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. pp.(1-29).