Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Our Integration into the Microwave Generation
By: David Miller
Monday, April 1st, 2013
            This blog aims to explore the concept behind the “Microwave Generation” and how it has become deeply correlated with modern society’s current social condition.  At this point one may ask, what exactly is the microwave generation?  To this question I acclaim that the microwave generation is term used to describe society’s fascination with immediate gratification.  This can be understood by breaking it up into two separate components that have been identified by Matt Burris and Bryan Veloso

The first aspect of the microwave generation refers to the reliance that individuals have developed in regards to the consumption of technology in every aspect of their daily lives.  Without the use of technology, society would be rendered helpless and placed in a state of shock.  The second aspect builds off this previous notion by advocating that society has lost its patience and seems to want everything in terms of immediacy (in about one minute or less).  However, the consequence inherent within society’s integration into the microwave generation suggests that we have become too reliant on technology.  Our obsession with technological innovation has terminated everyone’s attention span and has gotten society fixated upon fads.  These “fads” seem to fall in and out of fashion faster then anyone may have anticipated, and for this reason, multitasking and the termination of the common individual’s attention span seems to have embodied our current social condition. 

In response to this conceptualization of the microwave generation I, along with my team of three other Wilfrid Laurier students (Adam Abelson, Jessica Tessier and Sean Ryder), have constructed a video and uploaded it to YouTube.  This video seems to work in a self-reflexive manor, as we aim to make a comedic parody of some of the various fads that our society has obsessed over.  Through reenacting the Harlem Shake, Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” several gross food challenges, a flash mob and so many other sensations, our group aims to shine light on how our existence within the microwave generation has become predicated on the immediate consumption of fads.  We aim to prove that our constant consumption of new technologies and fads has successfully terminated our attention span and, thus, integrated us into loyal supporters of the microwave generation.

On a side note: please watch our video! Here’s the link!

The Global Convergence of NHL Hockey
By: David Miller
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Keeping consistent with my three previous blogs relating to the music industry, this blog will revolve around the discussion of another form of popular entertainment, that being the National Hockey League.  It comes to no surprise that the National Hockey League, or NHL, attributes the majority of its popularity to its Canadian audiences.  Through copious amounts of clever marketing techniques that are correlated with programming, Canadian networks like CBC use hockey as a way of bringing an entire country together in a mutual love for the game of hockey.  However, the NHL has transcended beyond its initial focus of entertaining Canadian and American audiences, for they are now engaging in what Henry Jenkins believes to be “Global Convergence culture.”

Global Convergence is understood as being the cultural hybridity that results from the inter-national circulation of media content (Jenkins, 2001).  In relation to the NHL, media is used in order to converge nations and acquire National Hockey League fans all across the globe.  This process has been made easy due in part to the process known as the “global village.”
Marshall McLuhan’s theoretical understanding of the global village suggests that an electronic nervous system, the media, is rapidly integrating the planet.  Events in one part of the world can now be experienced from other parts of the world in real-time, which is what human experience was like when we lived in small villages (McLuhan, 1964).  The NHL has tapped into this idea through their strategic manipulation of mediated content.  Through blogs and information on the Internet, social media announcements, live games aired across multiple television and radio channels, articles in sports magazines, etc. fans now have access to NHL content at all times and in any place around the globe.  The results seem to be successful, for the NHL has risen beyond acquiring fans all across North America, and has begun to develop popularity throughout Europe.  Copious amounts of NHL games have been played in European cities for the better part of the past decade- specifically within Berlin, London, Stockholm, Helsinki and many more.

In addition to games being played in Europe, the National Hockey League has quietly been considering expanding within Europe by putting an actual NHL team in a large European city.  This idealization, although simply a rumor at this point in time, has been generating copious amounts of attention in the hockey world.  However, regardless of whether or not this expansion may or may not happen, it only shines light on how NHL hockey has become an aspect of Global Convergence Culture.  If this idea does in fact become a reality, one may begin to question what’s next for this multi-billion dollar industry?  

The Consumption of Popular Music
By David Miller
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
            This blog aims to build off of the theme of popular music and identify how file sharing and piracy have plagued its various modes of consumption.  It is to be contended that free downloading/pirating have effectively replaced the traditional aspect of buying recorded music.  The ideal of downloading music for free has become all too popular, for studies now show that about 95% of music downloads are pirated.  Even though the multinational corporations that own music record labels have annually been making a few billion dollars off of digital downloads, this still only accounts for approximately 5% of the world’s downloaded music.  Society’s consumption of popular music through file sharing and piracy has brought about two different types of reactions.
            Gilbert B. Rodman and Cheyanne Vanderdonckt’s article “Music for Nothing or, I Want My Mp3” exemplifies one of the noteworthy opinions regarding the idea of consuming popular music through file sharing and piracy.  They suggest that a new discourse was starting to surround file sharing; one that it was not only considered to be immoral but that it should also be considered illegal.  This notion was represented through an article published in Forbes Magazine during 2012.  It is to be contended that piracy and file sharing harm the economy in multiple ways.  Some of these include the loss of jobs for a significant portion of the middle class workers that work in the entertainment industry.  Multinational corporations that own record labels employ copious amounts of individuals, and because of a lack of profit in regards to free downloading, many worker’s salaries cannot be up kept and therefore must be terminated.  Furthermore, free downloading and piracy seems to harm struggling artists, production crews, start-up social media companies and even large recording studios.
            However, on the other side of the spectrum, some individuals feel that pirating music seems to favour our society, for the positives seem to outweigh the negative aspects in relation to the economy.  The circulation of music amongst society adds to an artist’s popularity amongst the masses and serves its initial purpose of entertaining individuals and changing the music landscape in some way.   It is clear that an artist, or record company for that matter, does not make the same amount of profit that they once would; but there are several other advantages that outweigh this negative.  The first advantage has to do with recognition, as so many more people become familiar with the music created by an artist.  This has the capacity to increase an artist’s exposure, which would be much harder for them to obtain without file sharing.  Secondly, it forces artists to go on tour more often than they would normally; for this is one of the main ways that they make money.  Touring allows loyal fans to bear witness to their favourite music being played before them and adds a sense of authenticity as well as excitement that cannot be captured by simply listening to a track on an album.
            Regardless of one’s opinion on file sharing and piracy, it seems like a trend that is here to stay, for it has successfully re-defined how individuals consume music.  It is my recommendation that individuals try not to take sides on this matter, and simply learn to co-exist with file sharing and piracy in a way that benefits society’s greater good.  It is obvious that music exists to facilitate a form of expression, and this is all that should matter, we need to start looking past its economic pitfalls.     

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Integration of the Music Industry
By: David Miller
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
            Although music is encompassed by copious amounts of different genres, forms, sounds and expressional elements, it has become an industry that has been taken over by powerful multinational corporations.  These corporations have successfully re-structured the music and record label industry through economic convergence.  Within Henry Jenkins’ article “Convergence? I Diverge,” he shines light on the current economic condition of the entertainment industry by suggesting that it has been plagued by horizontal integration (Jenkins, 2001).  It is then suggested that the result of these integrations has restructured cultural production around the formulation of corporate synergies as means of generating a mass profit (Jenkins, 2001).  Horizontal integration is understood as being a common strategy used by large corporations to increase their market shares by buying out similar smaller companies.  These mergers and acquisitions of companies are done in order to increase the reach capacity of an entity (
            In specific regards to the music entertainment industry, scholars, Fenster and Swiss, suggest that major record labels were starting to get much larger through buying out smaller record companies during the 1970s.  From the early 1980’s onward, major record companies have become significantly more powerful due in part to the various independent labels that they have acquired, and thereby have been able to create internal divisions through the “genrefication” of music.  The effect that this had on the market lead to the rise of the mass commodification of popular music, as major record labels were solely interested in generating the highest profit possible.  Genrefication as well as the cross-promotion of specific artists are the tactics used by these powerful music corporations in order to market popular music to global audiences.  At this time artists and their corresponding music was no longer seen as art but rather as a potential investment.  This is increasingly through analyzing the ownership of US market shares; for only three different corporations control them.  Universal owns 40%, Sony owns 25%, Warner 15% and all other Independent labels only come out to 20% of all the production of music in the United States.
            Keith Negus then looks at how the emergence of global recording corporations has affected the music industry as a whole.  Major record labels are not as interested in new music as Independent labels are; thus an artist is more likely to become discovered through small Indy record labels.  For this reason, new audiences can be facilitated through the Indy’s promotion of new popular music; however this then has the capacity to threaten the sales of major record labels.  Due to this fear, major corporations subsequently buy out Indy labels in order to force them to lose their independence and thereby allow the same popular music to continue to resurface.  The end result is that once again the major corporations make a substantial profit.  
            I find the current trend of horizontal integration in the music industry to be abundantly depressing.  I do understand that by saturating the market with music that is dictated from a small amount of corporations, a mass profit has to be guaranteed.  This increasingly evident greed that these few corporations are guilty of has taken so much of the creativity within music out of reach; for audiences are only made aware of a vastly small segment of genres and musical style.