Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Week 10

This is a summary of my thoughts for Chapters 19 and 20 in Steve Gordon's The Future of the Music Business and the visual complexity website.

The Future of the Music Business

Nearing the end of the book, Gordon writes a chapter on peer to peer music websites that allow unlimited free music trading such as the old Napster, Kazaa, and Grokster. Gordon interestingly chronicles the movement of the industry from singles to albums and back to singles again with the advent of iTunes. In an interview with Wayne Rosso, he describes the downfall of Napster partially being that a central part of the system kept a log of all the files and the court ruled that Fanning and company could have prevented the music that was copyrighted from being there. Interestingly, it seems that internet speed has moved the peer to peer and music downloading zeitgeist further now that downloading music takes seconds rather than minutes or hours. I seem to recall downloading music on Napster back when it was popular and waiting an entire day for everything to download. Also, Rosso says that Apple does not make its money from iTunes, they make their money by selling compatible iPods. I find this an interesting business model and explains why other similar services have failed. Even Microsoft set up the Zune Marketplace for their portable music device, but it seems unpopular as well. Rosso makes an interesting point that people do need to pay money for music, but the price that the record companies set may not necessarily be right. Perhaps this is why the 'name your price' model has worked for artists like Radiohead.

Next, Steve Gordon explores music in virtual worlds with Mike Lawson. Lawson performs music on Second Life, a virtual world in which musicians can perform for virtual audiences with a microphone and a bit of planning. Lawson and a few friends play in a virtual blues club and make money from donations from other Second Lifers. Lawson says the appeal is being able to play at home in his own studio and have a much wider audience to play to regardless. There is also the ability to stream one's music outside of the virtual world, so interested listeners do not necessarily have to be in Second Life. Interestingly, there are no other virtual worlds or platforms that allow for virtual musicianship, but I would not be surprised if there is one in the making.

Visual Complexity

I tried the Graph Theory website, which allows users to use multiple solo violin samples and link them to each other to create a composition. The selections made affect the future performances of the piece. I think this is a very cool idea, although there are some inherent problems with it. I assume it's all written in the same key so each piece can fit together, but without deciding what goes where, notes that sound good together and resolution notes may not occur. Then again, maybe the creators of the website are hoping users choose resolution notes and samples that sound cohesive together.

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