Networks, digital media and the global economy

How is the consumption of media and culture changing in the digital age? Focus on one creative industry in your answer (e.g. music, publishing, broadcasting, or film) and draw on relevant theories in your answer.

It is undeniable that music has always been a large part of most cultures. Many technological developments have occurred between the phonograph and the age of Spotify and Apple Music. It is hard to imagine a time when people could listen to their favourite song only if someone was playing it. In the networked society music plays a large part in construction of ones identity and is less and less appreciated as a skillful art but more as a soundtrack to relate to, that can easily be substituted with 10 others with a similar mood.Earlier in history, consumption of music happened under the culture of music collection. With the emergence of CD technology people were able to collect as many discs as they were able to afford. But with the development of numerous streaming platforms access to music has become easier than ever.

In the “society that, therefore, we may properly call the network society” (Castells, 2010:500) presence or absense in the network defines characters of sovereignty and development and it is made a crucial aspect to remain in the network to take full advantage of it. This becomes increasingly easier with the network becoming part of our being (e.g. constant contact with the mobile phone) and it becomes harder to maintain traditional modes of consumption.  “Harvey’s thesis is that all capitalist are inherently prone to over-accumulation – caused by the tension between the unending need for growth and the consequences of that growth” (White, 2014: 69) Changing structures of power, and the political and economic implications of such transformations on societies show that in the era of streaming abundance has remained a trend, platforms like Spotify host such a large amount of music one wouldn’t be able to go through it all in a lifetime. Spotify is a free platform that allows its users to enjoy unlimited music collection for a small monthly fee, or you can use the application/site for free with limited amount of skips and lengthy advertisements every 30 minutes. However, the site received some backlash from music producers themselves, saying that with the changing consumption habits people have stopped buying music and unknown artists aren’t able to fulfill their full potential. As a response to this, famous rapper Jay Z establishes a streaming platform called Tidal that makes registration and payment compulsory, but promises all profits to be delivered to the artist. This shows that in the networked society to overcome the network one has to establish a network of their own. But what if you don’t have the economic capital and support system like Jay Z?

 

Bibliography:

Castells, M. (2010) The Rise of the Network Society. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.Jin, Dal Yong (2013) De-convergence of Global Media Industries. London: Routledge.

White, A. (2014), ‘The Digital Economy and the creative industries’, Digital Media and Society: Transforming Economics, Politics and Social Practices, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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