Slaves to Technology

Studying this module has encouraged me to look at the power structures behind our ‘network’ society, also the positives and negatives of the internet. Technological change is at the root of the ‘Network Society and the Media’ module. The rapid rate at which technology has advanced has altered the way we live our everyday lives, it has also changed the way the government and other institutions interact with us.

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Mobiles have evolved from bricks to advanced handheld computers in just 8 years. 

On the upside, technological advancements are responsible for the convergence of many media industries and lead to the launch of new media channels. It has brought us into the information age, where we have free access to ‘unlimited’ knowledge and are free to communicate globally. However, it is important to sometimes look past this liberal allusion, as every move we make online can be tracked, often without us knowing. The internet is funded by advertising, meaning our data is no longer ours.

As the media landscape which we are familiar with today is still in it’s infancy, we cannot predict how much things will change in the future.  The media industry will no doubt change but at what rate? Will all the content we are studying today still be relevant in 10 or 20 years?

Spotify – Music Copyright Restrictions are Irrelevant

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Like many other media industries, the music industry has made a shift online. Spotify is an online platform which claims to pay the artists it features through advertising and membership fees. To own a premium account it will cost you £9.99 a month.

Whilst copyright restrictions surrounding music exist, they are not enforced in a way that stop you listening for free. On the web it is easy to download music illegally via a multitude of sites or to stream it on applications such as YouTube or Soundcloud. Spotify itself has a free tier. If this is the case, then why do people choose to pay for Spotify?

The Spotify Premium account offers “on-demand access to the Spotify catalog on all devices, no ad interruption, unlimited song skips, ‘Offline Listening’ and high quality streaming (320 kbps).” Apple currently sells it music downloads at 256 kbps.

According to Statista, from July 2010 to February 2016 the number of paying Spotify users has grown from 0.5 million to 30 million. In the past 6 months this number has grown exponentially by 10 million. Therefore, I’d argue that the relaxed music copyright restrictions, when it comes to personal listening, are irrelevant. People, despite being able to access music for free, are willing to pay an online music service monthly as long as it provides variety and high quality content via a reliable channel.

Online Invisibility

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Personally, I use different social media platforms for different purposes and I change the privacy settings accordingly. My Facebook is definitely my most personal online profile (although I mostly use it for instant messaging); I keep it on the highest privacy settings. I use Instagram as a free online portfolio where I can look back to see if my work/photographs are improving. This account does not contain any personal information other than my name, therefore I haven’t bothered to change the privacy settings to private. Also, I live in hope that someone important will decide I’m incredibly talented and propel me to success. Lastly, I have been proactive enough to set up a LinkedIn account but not enough to have added any information.

When I googled my name, none of my online profiles were retrieved. With so many internet users I’d say I am fairly invisible online. I think I am ‘valued’ most as a possible consumer to advertisers, as is the case with most internet users. I use online websites with the assumption that my online profiles can be viewed by anyone. Your connections in real life e.g. your family, friends and employers, are the people most likely to view your online profiles. I think it is important to self-regulate your online self as you would your real life self. I don’t want anyone to know I am an avid supporter of Donald Trump.

Avaaz: the online community designed to help other communities.

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Currently boasting 42 million members in 194 different countries, Avaaz is an online campaigning organisation or community  that wants to drive political and social change for the better. The organisation is unique in how it is run, almost like a democracy.  “Each year, Avaaz sets overall priorities through all-member polls… only initiatives that find a strong response are taken to scale.” As a member of the Avaaz community, you also have the opportunity to propose issues you want to campaign against.

Due to the global reach of the internet, Avaaz has unified online activists to create a voice which is listened to. When Rupert Murdoch set out to further expand his media empire in the UK through buying BSkyB: Avaaz set up an opposing campaign which included “1 million online actions, 30,000 phone calls to MPs and a critical 40,000 submissions into the Government consultation on the BSkyB deal.” As a response to the Cyclone Nargis causing devastation in Burma: “in just ten days, over 25,000 people from 125 countries donated 2 million to support the monks’ relief efforts.”

It could be argued that because the Avaaz community is spread so far across the world, it’s members are limited to signing a petition or making donations. Also, an online community cannot compete with a group unified by more traditional campaigning methods such as direct action. However, in a community this vast in size, each small act of slacktivism is combined to truly make a difference. The website is effective in flagging social or political issues which would otherwise go under the radar.

Keeping the audience happy: YouTube

YouTube is a platform where the number of subscribers or viewers is a way of measuring success. As YouTube establishes itself as a professional entertainment industry, the stakes and rewards for content providers are getting higher. Therefore, increasing the pressure on YouTubers to keep their audience happy, this affects content in all types of ways.

YouTube has been able to maintain a uniquely personal relationship between their creators and viewers. This is different to the relationship between other celebrities and their followers. Arguably, the stars of YouTube are more relatable.

The choice in the type of videos uploaded is more interactive as many You Tubers ask for their audience to request their desired subject content. The comment section offers the viewers to give their instant feedback which content providers can choose to use to improve their videos. Many videos cater specifically for the audience’s needs e.g. tutorials and product reviews.

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Others just satisfy our curiosity into other peoples lives or material belongings.

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Although the purpose of Zoella’s ‘What’s In My Bag?’ video is unclear, it is clearly popular, accumulating 5,007,246 views and 157,095 likes.

However, as YouTube personalities become celebrities, the more interested advertisers/brands become in their reach. Hence, the growth of sponsored videos. The type of brand a YouTuber chooses to endorse is ultimately dependent on if it will interest their audience demographic. Another way in which the audience can shape the content.

 

 

The Frozen Franchise Phenomenon

Media convergence is “the combination of new media and old media within a single piece of media work.” Disney owns many assets including: The Walt Disney Studios (inc. Walt Disney Record), Disney Mobile Studios, ABC Family, ABC Entertainment and Marvel Studios. This is an example of economic convergence. Utilizing a variety of different types of media allows access to a wider reach of the selected demographics, this leading to awareness and profit increases. Disney’s Frozen is a perfect example of a franchise which has used its owner’s media convergence and influence, to expand it from a movie to a brand.

The Frozen franchise stretches across all types of media including: video games, books, apps, music, YouTube videos plus planned features of Frozen characters in numerous television shows.

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The franchise’s success due to media convergence is reflected in its profits. As of September 2014, Frozen had achieved: $1.27 billion worldwide box office sales, $252 million in DVD and Blu-ray sales and $2.7 billion in music sales. To date, the ‘FROZEN – Let It Go Sing-along / Official Disney HD’ YouTube video has reached 688,346,884 views, whilst the ‘Disney’s Frozen “Let It Go” Sequence Performed by Idina Menzel’ YouTube video uploaded by Walt Disney Animation Studios has reached 513,536,222 views.

Media convergence means we are submersed in popular culture, encouraging branded merchandise to become omnipresent in our everyday lives. As shown by the example of Frozen, Disney has manipulated media convergence in order to increase sales.  This is applicable for other movie franchises such as The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

 

 

Bibliography

B, Bulik. (2014). How Disney has managed to keep ‘Frozen’ Red Hot. AdAge. Available from http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/disney-managed-frozen-red-hot/294757/. [Accessed 17 March 2016].

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statista.com -The Statistics Portal

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The website Statista.com is an easy-to-navigate online statistics database which boasts quantitative data and statistics on “over 80,000 topics from over 18,000 sources.” The website’s client base includes media agencies and marketing departments in large companies worldwide thus ensuring it as a valid source for academic writing.

Due to its well-designed infographics on a broad variety of subjects the website has grown exponentially and now claims more than 600,000 registered users since its launch in 2008. Each infographic can be downloaded for free as a PNG, PDF, Powerpoint or Excel document. It is perfect for student use.

I have used this site’s statistics for research on multiple occasions, also to back my arguments in essays on my different university modules. From finding out the “monthly reach of national newspapers and their websites in the United Kingdom” to exploring the “leading social networks worldwide as of January 2016, ranked by number of active users (in millions)”: the statistics are always recent therefore relevant.

The Statista homepage has been made accessible for the user, categorizing its information into ‘Popular Statistics,’ ‘Recent Statistics’ and by industry. These include: Consumer goods & FMCG, Technology & Telecommunication, Sports & Recreation and Retail & Trade. This site is particularly useful for my course, PR & Advertising, as it can be used to give insights on target audiences or potential customers/clients.

 

Bibliography

Statista. (no date). About us. Statista. Available from http://www.statista.com/aboutus/ [Accessed 10 February 2016].

Statista. (2016). Statista – The Statistics Portal. Statista. Available from http://www.statista.com/ [Accessed 10 February 2016].