Sunday, February 28, 2010

Useful Question Set

These came from a writer for indiefeed networks and is a writeup for panel discussion on the topic of online music curatorship. Pretty pertinent information for this project.

  1. Why is the internet changing how we discover music?
  2. What are possible definitions of music curation?
  3. Why are consumers having a harder time discovering music today?
  4. How does the abundance of free music impact the need for music review?
  5. Who are the new influencers/providers of online music curation?
  6. Is Pandora/LastFM, etc. enough and why do we need critical review of music?
  7. Does the new "free" music economy gut incentives for professional music review?
  8. Are amateurs (bloggers, podcasters, UGC) a help or a hinderance to music discovery and fan attraction?
  9. Where do artists fit and play in this new world of fragmented abundance?
  10. In this new world, why or why isn't traditional music criticism needed?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Undergraduate Symposium Abstract

As it stands today, true music collaboration still only finds itself born out of person-to-person connection. Whether it be on the level of a simple jam session or the writing of a major composition, the spark of ingenuity, feelings of euphoria that come from real creative chemistry, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from a well written song are extremely personal connections that exist between people working closely together. Contemporary solutions for bringing musicians together act simply as tools to extend the range of communication between people working together on any given project. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but of the more than fifty websites dedicated to music collaboration online, the majority claim to be established upon the idea of bringing together musicians that have never even seen one another, and yet the evidence of this kind of connection is surprisingly hard to find. In light of this discovery, I will be researching the processes and methods of musicians and the aspects of a working musical relationship that make things "click." Using personal interviews, previously recorded interviews, surveys, shadowing and other similar research methods, I will seek out and refine to something more tangible the driving force and incentive that makes music collaboration work. In gathering several viewpoints on the subject, it should become easier to break these ideas into types or categories, which will allow for application into a new system of collaboration.Upon identifying an incentive and a connecting force by which collaboration becomes natural, I will design a system that serves as a platform for "true" collaboration, one hinged on the very thing that draws musicians to work together.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Musicmaking and Songwriting Process: Ever-elusive and as of yet, unidentified. Part 1

In the name of writing in this blog more often, I've decided to try my hand at somewhat of a series of studies involving posted videos, mostly interviews, of musicians speaking on their process when it comes to making music. Ideally, I'll be able to get a wide-ranging sample of genres and techniques in order to get a feel for what makes us all tick, for as you'll soon see, most musicians have no idea where any of their tendencies come from beyond initial inspiration. For this evening's post, we have the beautiful and incredibly talented Ms. Regina Spektor.

After a look at this interview, you may feel even more convinced that even those who seem to be some of the best in their discipline have little to say when it comes to articulating how they get from point A to point B. But there's where the beauty, mystery, and indescribable value come in. The analogies of lego-building that Regina uses in talking about her songwriting are at the same time completely understandable and impossible to fully interpret. It may take all the effort that an artist can muster to give us a glimpse of how they do what they do best, and besides, if they could make blueprints, would what they were doing still be considered art (maybe this is where design come into play)? This is why those that find a way to harness their creative energy and use it towards a certain end are incredibly important in this world, for though we may all hold the potential for such an achievement, we don't all see it through in our lifetime.

Anyways, departing from creative force rhetoric, there is one topic that Regina speaks on that I think is great to consider in any creative medium: the question of too much. In the interview, Regina speaks of concerns she has about being too pretentious, and this is curious issue to bring to light, as it deals with the idea that one who possesses certain exceptional abilities may display themselves beyond "layman" comprehension or acceptance and render their work useless to the eyes of the majority. It's the songwriter's answer that made me beam: " I just want to say, people are smart and cool and most of the time I just think I wanna make stuff good enough for them, interesting enough for them.....and I really feel like I have something to say that's in my own voice, in my own perspective." In throwing out the notion that people will just think she is being pretentious in what she is doing as a songwriter, Regina turns the other way and says that's it's all in striving for something real and meaningful, let's hope she keeps it up.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pecha Kucha - An Online Experience

So, it may be time to start blogging again, and what better way to resuscitate the creative flow than to say what I was going to say on Wednesday here for everyone to access at their convenience?

First, a look at the nature of the online music collaboration playing field:

As you can see, there is a certain confusion taking place for the mere fact that every contender:

A. Claims the same sensational outcome.

B. Does so in complete redundant in a metaphorical shouting competition

C. As a result of this, completely steamrolls the original goal (in this case represented by Kirk Douglas - "the real spartacus")

In checking out various sites catering to the idea of music collaboration, I see less and less innovation, and more and more sites (61 are listed on a blog that keeps track of them, and on top of that, there are another 29 disabled sites listed!). As a result, what was purposed as a gathering place for musicians has become a useless nobody-wins competition, something similar to format wars in the media industry, where we see intense initial competition by manufacturers seeking to produce the best medium for music or video in order to gain the right to universiality for the next few years and profit from it (most recent example: HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray). The key difference between format wars and the mess we see with music collab sites is, format wars end quickly and someone takes over. So far, this isn't happening with music collaboration sites, becuase as a service, they don't depend solely on fidelity, there are a few other things to address.

Beyond the obvious features a service needs to address (usability, utility, rich features, etc) are the unspoken bits that draw a person into using it, and I'm finding through the parallel design of another service in Axel's Microsoft class, that it's usually not just a need to use that service. Also, the draw to a service, and more importantly the service itself may not necessarily be the only goal in its creation. This idea is what we are trying to grasp and hone in Axel's class, where what a serice lets a person do is not only fulfill an explicit want or need, but also create social connections as a healthy and purposefully targeted by-product. In using this type of thinking, the function of the role of service naturally becomes more intuitive and simplified in order to produce the desired outcome.

In summary, my project will need to pull back from the typical vast feature set that alot of these sites are boasting, and think of what really matters to a person that wants to create music with another person. The end goal here would be the natural high that comes when two musicians click mid-song or jam, a drive to more creation with something like album or song theme contests, and of course the deeper social connection this kind of interaction affords.

Oh yeah, there's another video I wanted you all to see. This one is a TED talk exemplifying the power of bottom-up influence in the ultimate level playing field where everyone has a chance to be heard: the internet. The take-away here is just to note the strange ways in which you can influence people and create momentum, and in many cases unintentionally.

Hope this helps the people working on more pervasive and influential themes.