Music in the Digital Age

Ideas about online music commerce and culture from New Music Strategies

Andrew Dubber

Music in the Digital Age
Ideas about online music commerce and culture from New Music Strategies
©2011 Andrew Dubber

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Contents
1 2 is is a conversation Music Your music is commercial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Your music is media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . e Digital Age e Five Ages of Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A shiing of ratios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . An evolutionary process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . e Internet explained Understanding the Internet . . . . e Online Medium . . . . . . . . As a Digital Native sees it . . . . . So - okay - but what’s the internet? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 8 9 13 13 19 20 23 24 25 27 30 32 34

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Music Online - and Online Music Transitional media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

i

But that’s a prey broad brief. When I ran New Music Strategies as a blog about independent music business in the digital age. whi is a different thing. I released an ebook that had a degree of success for whi I’m very grateful. but equally appreciated. this book does have helpful marketing strategy ideas in it that will help you bring your music to a wider audience if that’s what you wish. and it will help you find ways of using the internet that are manageable and productive for independent music business.1 This is a conversation I’ve been trying to write this book for about four years. that’s not what we do” but also “we wish you every failure in your endeavour” . New Music Strategies is now something quite different. We do things that we think are interesting about music in the digital age.for reasons that I hope will become clear as you read this book. 1 . ings that are about participation. at said. as I gave it away for free. What that something is.” In both instances. It also took me to some fantastic and interesting places around the world and allowed me to meet and work with some really talented and amazing people . Not that I made any money from it.several of whom are now the other members of the New Music Strategies team. by more people in more places. is something that’s still up for grabs. about music as a tool for social ange and about more music. Prey mu the only things we’re not interested in working on are “Can you help make my 13 year-old niece a famous popstar?” and “We’re seing up a website to make the music business more like the sto market. but I did make some money because of it. about community. we’re likely to not only say “no.

then post it up on my website. At the time.it just came out of a conversation. But I hope some of the other things I have to say will be both interesting and useful as well. someone suggested that it would be handy if they were all bundled up together into a single work. I narrowed the topics down to a nice round twenty (thereby geing rid of some repetition and overlap). some people asked me to briefly summarise the main point of the rest of the cards. and it has some useful stuff in there you may wish to implement. I’d been asked to say a few things about the internet for music business. Or at least not boring. ere were about twentyfive cards all up. You don’t have to give me your email address or jump through any hoops to get it. these were all separate issues that needed unpiing. explanation and clarification. I wrote an e-book called e 20 ings You Must Know About Music Online. it was the middle of 2007. It’s still there. I was at a seminar alongside some notable local music industry types. I didn’t know how to condense those main issues into a single idea. that will lead us to the point of this book. If you’re so inclined. that’s why you’ve downloaded it. But allow me the indulgence of going ba over that earlier book and hopefully. I offered to write a blog post about ea one. My idea was that I would say a few simple things about ea topic. To me. Ea one was an important idea that needed discussion. I couldn’t really do that. e notes were on cards. and then move on to the next one. Help yourself. I made it through three of them. you can also give it away for free . By the time I’d finished. and then I combined those blog posts into a book. and I thought that was a good idea too. So I went away and turned those cards into a series of related blog posts. in my long-winded and meandering manner. So instead. I hadn’t planned to write that book .THIS IS A CONVERSATION 2 Most likely. At the beginning of 2007. I put the PDF up on my website for free. Over drinks. and I had about an hour to talk. and ea card had a topic wrien down on it. and so I had prepared a few notes. It’s still good and relevant. In the question and answer session aerwards.

but you can make your own conclusions. at number is conservative.positively quaint. Hell. Unexpected and disruptive platforms mean that the main ways in whi we consume music may be different at any moment. e thing is… the internet moves really quily. . but I was prey sure I’d need to revisit it prey regularly. If I’d asked for money.rightly so. massively increased download speeds and storage space alter our online practices beyond recognition. Kno yourself out. My best guess is that the 96-page `20 ings' e-book has now been shared. it even has references to MySpace in it. revised and updated edition. When I wrote that `20 ings' e-book. every single one of the people who have invited me to all sorts of amazing places around the world. A second. the whole thing was already available as individual blog posts on my website. and it’s possibly mu higher. Apart from anything else. given away and distributed in excess of 300. a distillation of my thoughts about the online music environment. clients. But if I’d asked for so mu as an email address. and I’ve also tried completely different approaes to the same material. I suspect there’s a lesson in that. even . new tenologies come along all the time. It’s a totally free e-book containing what was. I certainly wasn’t expecting this many people to have it or know about it. friends and fellow musicians all have one thing in common: they’d read the book. Who uses MySpace? So. I’ve been trying to work on a rewrite of e 20 ings You Must Know About Music Online. by just tweaking and modifying bits and pieces here and there. new services come along that make the old way in whi we did things . I’d have been luy to sell a single copy. downloaded. that number would probably have had several fewer zeroes on the end of it. and that was over four years ago. since around November 2007.just last week. Aer all.if you ask me . and . But what’s interesting to me is that since May 2007. staff members. I was aware that I’d probably have to constantly update it. I’ve tried to get it done quily.000 times. at the time.THIS IS A CONVERSATION 3 from your own website or email it to everyone you’ve ever met. and put it online. and who have found money for me to talk to their students.

and so I stopped. And one week in June 2009. and I’ve le it.but it seems to have a life of its own. ere are.THIS IS A CONVERSATION 4 One version turned the `things' into specific strategies . Of course. particularly . ey’ve moved on and so have we.and nor have I been bringing it up in conversation recently . I can’t help but be reminded that it’s not what I want it to be anymore but nor did I know what I did want it to be. for reasons that will become apparent as you read this. I’ve felt a weird mix of nostalgia. Moreover. there are lots of simple lile things that could be anged.I’ve been becoming increasingly uneasy about the book’s continued relevance. naturally. I’ve made it about halfway through. I haven’t been promoting it. I did receive a few emails about that. But these are the sorts of lile things that would need constant tweaking if I just anged and updated those bits. It’s not wrong as su . I was doing what I like to call an `Unconsultancy' . pride and embarrassment.it’s just not as current as it could be. While su a thing might sound incredibly helpful at face value. and people keep passing it around and linking to it. I found myself in Groningen. making free (and very professional) audiobooks out of it and circulating it to more and more people throughout the world . and ea time it hasn’t felt quite right . in the north of the Netherlands. ea time I’ve come up with a new way of revising the book. And any time the e-book has come up in conversation. to my knowledge. four typographical errors in the original ebook. Two of them. And so I’ve been stu. of course. whi is nice. occur in the section where I talk about how important it is to be careful about spelling and professional presentation. But at any rate. I realised almost immediately that su a book would be prey mu useless.whi is simply me turning up and being as helpful (and affordable) as I can be to as many independent music people as possi- . there’s no need to be talking about the Arctic Monkeys or Lily Allen in this context these days.and attempted to give a step by step `how to' guide to independent music online. And while helpful volunteers have kindly been translating it into different languages.

as opposed to a traditional consultancy. whi was: “How should I update the ebook?” So I gave it some serious thought. at’s it. nuanced and complex. simple idea. single-client affair. is is a conversation.who asked the question: “What would be different about the 20 ings book if you were to write it now?” And that’s a very different question to the one I’d been asking myself. It’s human beings.the music. Every decision you make about the online environment. then everything will follow from that. everything else) in the Digital Age . make and do on the internet will be guided by this single. come to think of it. encapsulates and contextualises everything I’ve wrien online at New Music Strategies . Best of all it’s something that can be summed up extremely simply . And I came up with what I think is the best answer I could: ere wouldn’t be 20 ings. e whole message in a nutshell: is is a conversation. at is to say: “ere is just ONE thing you must know about Music (and. every digital marketing strategy you come up with. I mean the whole thing . Anyway. It’s an interesting approa. and everything you say. It is the one thing that updates. . over lun. I was talking to one su person . whi is a more intensive.and it’s the one single realisation about the online environment that I believe solves `internet strategy'. And by “this”. the medium. communicating with ea other. ere’s really only ONE. or an entrepreneurial music business.but aren’t the kind of people who can generally hire consultants. And if you really understand that principle and apply it to what you do as an independent musician. because it makes the sort of thing I do mu more readily available to a mu wider group of musicians and music businesses that could really do with a few pointers to get them `unstu' and move them forward on their path .but it’s extraordinarily ri.THIS IS A CONVERSATION 5 ble in a short space of time .and all else follows from that”.

the status updates. and warrants investigation. the tenology. the recordings. the community music workshops. A contemporary media environment. If you’re just strumming a nylon string guitar in your bedroom. you are making music in the digital age. Sharing. the day to day work of being a musician. the vinyl. the CDs.whether it’s to make a sustainable career as a virtuoso nose bagpipist. make and do. the improvisations.THIS IS A CONVERSATION 6 the marketing. . the ringtones. Relating. We need to put those things together and explore the implications of that. Expressing. or to inspire political ange through song. I think it’s important to understand what that means. I believe that’s significant. why it’s different and why that’s important before you can start implementing strategies . the social media profile pages. Music is Culture. the inspired musical expression. the downloads. the live concerts. It’s human beings doing what people do: Communicating. even if your computer isn’t swited on. to start an online service that lets people listen to their favourite music whenever and wherever they want to. the relationship with fans. Music in the Digital Age is the creation and propagation of culture within a particular media context. to help kids to play Baa Baa Bla Sheep on the piano. the branding. We need to think about what it means to be in the Digital Age. Culture is simply whatever people say. We need to think about what music is. the copyright laws. Because the simple fact is that it IS the digital age. the tshirts. the BitTorrents.

Music is an activity that people do . We sing `Happy Birth7 . but then that would deny the musicality of ance acoustic events. it’s probably helpful to actually start from the beginning and consider what those two concepts mean (`Music' and `the Digital Age'). You don’t `hear' music as mu as your brain actually constructs it from the input from your auditory sense. that means if a tree falls in a forest. It’s a social and cultural activity. I have no intention of trying to `define' music other than to say that I think I know what it is when I encounter it. but those things aren’t music . Music’s not a thing we can hold in our hands. I could say something about it having melody. harmony and rhythm. even a series of dots on a piece of paper can be called `music'. Far more music is made for social and cultural reasons than for reasons of commodification.2 Music In order to talk about Music in the Digital Age. or a plastic disc. what comes out of the speakers or emanates from the piano when the dots on the page are played by a pianist. a lot of my favourite music has none of those things. it makes vibrations in the air. ultimately.a verb. I could say `intentional sound'.and nor is. We can own a piece of paper. but actually. both separately.no sound. And he kind of has a point. but unless there’s an ear and a brain in the vicinity . Hell. and rather discuss the notion of `musiing' . more than it is a commodity. or own.and oen it’s something that people do together. And yeah. and when put together. Christopher Small (1998) suggests we drop the idea of `music' as a noun. You’re probably the same yourself. I could go into a bit of a riff about perception and the rather interesting truth that the human mind `creates' sound aer the fact of its reception by the ears as simply moving columns of air.

religious ceremonies and rituals. I include classical music and jazz in this context. Your music is commercial For the sake of simplicity. As Simon Frith (1988) points out. no music. “e industrialization of music cannot be understood as something whi happens to music. I’m going to be entirely culturally reductive here and simply talk about what’s confusingly known as Popular Music. Definitions of music are problematic at best. But we do need to know what it is we’re talking about when we discuss this stuff. I’m not talking about the `commercialisation' of independent. whi fuses (and confuses) capital. I know. but instead refers to those types of music that are created.a process. anthropological. Most folk music too (I say most. in essence. commercial. because many folk musics are purely cultural and communicative expressions that . social. that is.to whi the answer is that the music that they play . and only play for their friends?' . performed or produced in relation to the kinds of cultural exange that is. without Music Business.all stems from a kind of music that was designed to be played and performed in a commercial seing.MUSIC 8 day' to ea other. but about the simple fact that prey mu all music we listen to is inextricably linked with commerce. We engage in music for celebrations.its form. philosophical and physical understandings of the phenomenon. and need to factor in aesthetic. structure and derivations . since it describes a process in whi music itself is made . communicative. and because it’s the bit you’re no doubt most interested in. I know . Precise definitions of music are not the point when we’re trying to deal with the first principles that are important to us here. tenical and musical arguments. folk or other musical forms.” Of course. you’re thinking `but what about people who just learn an instrument for fun. artistic. e term Popular Music does not mean `music that is popular' or even `pop music'.the term `commercial' has all sorts of negative connotations. We sing songs to our ildren to help them learn.

Your music is media Instead of considering musicians as gied and talented artistes (or selfobsessed primadonnas). e Music Press either regurgitates PR bollos or has completely disappeared up its own arse. Music and Commerce are both ings at People Do. Musicians are selfish and precious. marketing. records. and then commerce comes along and corrupts it all. Music and Commerce aren’t individual concepts or entities that exist `over there'. At its simplest level. retailers. there is a tension. ere’s this widely held idea that music is this pure and natural expression that happens creatively and artistically among human beings. in the music business) is hard. separate from People. who’s going to form a band if we have no cultural reference for what a band is and what it’s for? Barring those musics that exist purely for tribal and community social function . We oen rely on these simplifications and stereotypes to make sense of the fact that being in music (and. patronage. if these things are simply part of the same phenomenon. Retailers are unimaginative.music and commerce are inextricably linked. therefore. there would prey mu be no music as we know it. So why. and the music business people they have to . I say that’s obvious nonsense.MUSIC 9 exist to perform social functions independent of a performer/audience relationship where value is being exanged). promoters. Promoters are crooks. publishers and music press. some music is ruined by aempts to reshape it for greater commercial acceptance. venues. no music. professional teaers. Record companies are greedy and corrupt. do we have this ongoing tension between the art of music and the commerce of music? Because clearly.and even these are dwindling as `World Music' is captured and commodified for a willing commercial marketplace . but in fact the more fundamental truth is without commerce. Publishers are parasites. managers. Sure. e simplest way to explain it away is that people are a problem. If there were not concerts. equipment sellers. Harder than it probably should be. Audiences are thieves.

a complete oversimplification. a DVD.there is a process of mediation at work. We have a fair idea of how newspapers and magazines work. a Promotional step and a Consumption step. It gets broadcast. is is. e writer of the Sopranos is no more going to write a 25-minute third act than the director is going to shoot on 70mm IMAX film. a Performance step. as I’ve described it above. Somebody promotes it to the correct audience. And in fact. we can see prey clearly how a programme like that comes to be. or than a publicist is going to target it at pre-teens. it fits into generally un- . Someone edits it and someone else distributes it. the thing with media is that ea of those steps is aware of.I’d say that all popular music is a process of mediation of what Small calls ’Musiing'. If we think about it. We think we understand media. We get that television operates in a certain way. and takes into consideration the needs and parameters of ea of the other steps in the ain. that’s the ain of events.MUSIC 10 contend with leees (or tragically inept but lovable enthusiasts). and you can begin to see why I think of popular music as media. e whole Sopranos phenomenon. Let me explain. Film we have a prey good sense of too. as being part of that same media family. But we struggle to think of popular music. a download. Let’s take the Sopranos as a case in point. I prefer to consider music and its business as Media forms. Map a Coldplay album onto that same ain. We are completely immersed in it and it inscribes our daily lives. is made up of the sum of its parts. Some people act in it. and that radio is kind of similar. a Distribution step. but in a nutshell. a Production step. of course. and other people direct it. Someone comes up with it. I’d break that down into some main stages: there’s a Composition step. Whether we have a CD. Here’s one way to think about it: Consider a TV Show. all popular music is mediated. a stadium concert tiet. I`d go a step further . or front row seats at a small venue . as a TV show. Someone writes it. But you see. ese things are clearly media. Even more simply put. But in fact. and some people consume it by way of an electronic appliance in their home. a magazine article.

and form its small audience. Chances are. is may be a controversial thing to say. Personally. in whi all of the parts are compatible. or when a publicist wants to get a political punk band to pose for a Smash Hits! magazine foldout. all along the ain. and can both understand and deal with all the other pieces of that same thing. Perhaps most importantly. you also have to think about the whole media ecology you’re . ere are television programmes that are completely constructed to appeal to as many lowest common denominator viewers they can find. And there are television programmes that respect and allenge an intelligent audience. In other words. media tends to factor its audience into the design. then you’re going to encounter tensions. Distribution. what you personally happen to do in all this falls somewhere in the Composition. you can start to arrange the parts in a holistic and intelligent way. and commerce as the necessary evil (or the whole point of the exercise) automatically starts things off on the wrong foot. inking of music as the art (or the `product' to be exploited). and a group of people who happen to think along those same lines may discover and appreciate them. I think there are helpful parallels that illuminate the condition of popular music in there. listening to. Production. But when you think of Popular Music Media as a single phenomenon. Promotional and Consumption parts of the media equation. there are television programmes that are made simply to amuse or allenge the writers of the show. I’m down here at the end of the ain. misunderstanding the cultural and commercial parameters of any of the other parts of the ain causes the problems. Performance. You may even take care of a few or even all of those bits yourself. but if you have ideas to engage in your bit of the music media ain that resolutely ignores all of the other bits. But although you have to think about us.MUSIC 11 derstood categories and fulfills certain tenical and structural criteria so that it works as a media artefact. but completely understand the parameters of the media business and consumer relationship they form part of. collecting and loving the music. Of course. ese tensions might come when a recording artist wants to make a five-album song cycle as a first release.

. that’s what I mean by the Music bit.MUSIC 12 part of. when I talk about Music Online. So.

In order to understand what I mean by e Fih Media Age . For this. The Five Ages of Media e central premise of this is that media are environments. at is. e Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) and Understanding Media (1964) – McLuhan talks about different periods of history as they relate to the primary media forms that aracterise them. let’s capitalise it: `e Fih Media Age'). He didn’t. we don’t consume media . he talks about the age of the printing press as being a specific period of humankind’s development – “Typographic Man”. as some people suggest. one of the things he did do was to provide a useful framework for thinking about ways in whi our media environment anges the way that we think and also has a profound impact upon the ways in whi we communicate and express ourselves. at sounds a lile needlessly obtuse. In his books – in particular.we inhabit them. He speaks about these as if they are evolutionary phases: for instance.and why that’s significant to someone who just wants to make a living playing music and is reading this book for clues . I take a leaf out of the work of Herbert Marshall McLuhan. However. we have lived 13 .3 The Digital Age We are living in what I would call the fih media age (and just to underline how important I think that is.let me take you through the five ages so you can step ba for a minute and see what’s really going on. “predict the Internet”. McLuhan died in 1980. but it’s really quite simple: throughout history.

Our senses are connected to whatever the main media happen to be at the time. there are actually no musicians.in particular when it comes to everything I have to say about music and the internet… but also in general. music’s an extension of spee. the media environment alters. commerce and our own fragile psyologies. art. of course. Not metaphorically . society. Our wiring is different in response to the different tenological context we find ourselves in. I’ll take you through it. politics. As part of celebration or mourning. and that anges over time. 1) The Oral Age Human beings are hardwired for narrative. In many oral societies.and some of our most compelling and enduring myths come to us from the Oral age. In this context. and the organism of our brain has to adapt to its new environment. And when those media ange.THE DIGITAL AGE 14 in a world saturated by one media form or another. law. gathering or ritual. we generally don’t realise it’s happening to us while it’s happening. It affects culture. but it is important . is isn’t complex. And by `media form' I mean `the main way in whi we take in our information'. Our brains get information about the world through our senses. Now.it actually anges. e oratory of Homer. because music is just something everyone does. It evolves. And in the oral age. We have been through five main ages of media. It’s not a profession. and we could interrogate it as it played out. ea with its own unique aracteristics. It was the campfire storytale. the main way in whi music happened was communally. As we move from one age to another. we ange. we’ve been telling ea other stories . As soon as we figured out how to make words. there are some oral cultures that turn music-making into some- . that’s not universally true for all cultures. Always have been. And like a frog slowly boiling. e story was present before us. and over time. e medium was spee.

where only my monks were allowed to read it. No longer do they have to be passed down from generation to generation by painstaking repetition and rote learning. ey are the troubadours and buskers. It would take them months to travel there. to make it a crudely round figure.brought ba to life from the page. sometimes great calamities can befall them.and then they’d make the journey ba to my monastery where it would sit in my library. Writing was more complicated than mere spee though. Sadly. But writing allowed for stories to be captured.THE DIGITAL AGE 15 thing else. studied and repeated faithfully in one telling to the next. there were very few texts. and that wasn’t evenly distributed for the most part. Like the fire that wiped out the Alexandrian Library. e Oral Age lasted. and unless you want to make the case for a gestural age before it (grunting and pointing to communicate). e first period through whi human beings had a means by whi they tended to communicate. about 10. and take in information and form an understanding of the world in whi they lived. it required the skill of literacy.000 years. what would ordinarily happen is that some scribes and monks from my monastery would come and visit your monastery in a different part of the world. and we can preserve them. Besides. e oral age prey mu starts at the dawn of human civilisation. line by line . e guy with the literacy could . In order for a copy of a text to be made. when texts are so precious and rare. they would copy a book by hand aracter by aracter. For a start. And only the important ones at that. We can now take those stories. Writing’s great. 2) The Scribal Age And then we invent writing. it marks the first media age. ey show up and they entertain with songs and stories from their travels . taking hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable scrolls containing a large unk of all recorded human knowledge with it.and they are rewarded for their cra. Now they can be captured in a permanent form and recalled at will .

as it happens) and before long.the words going into their brains like beads on a string. the Scribal Age lasted around 1.and before long there is a real industry. of course. Literacy spreads like wildfire. Roughly speaking again. or an intellectual and cultural enlightenment project. Music. but were able to compose and create works by making marks on paper.and the . At any rate . e industry is called music publishing .depending on whi continent you happen to live. Because not only can spee be captured in text on a page. or siing in private taking in information at their own pace . Our brains ange radically. we invent the industrial age. flourishes . We develop an unprecedented sense of the individual.and before long a man named Ba is making copies of his works. And with meanical reproduction. Everyone can come to have a personal relationship with their saviour . Before long. musicians who not only possessed this skill of literacy.the message is now in everyone’s hands. as a business.THE DIGITAL AGE 16 stand up the front and read in sermons to a congregation of illiterate and accepting aendees. Aer all. it’s now almost a trivial exercise to make and distribute multiple copies of that knowledge. you can’t question a text. And so the profession of composer emerges . is turns out to be the biggest revolution in human history since the development of writing. of course.500 years . And there were. he’s mass producing books. It says what it says. along comes this Gutenberg guy and makes a maine that uses the concept of movable type (hundreds of years aer the Chinese first think of it. Now everyone can have their own Bible. people are nailing their edicts to ur doors.or print and distribute leaflets suggesting that perhaps they don’t need one… or that the saving that needs doing is one of political reform. and they would perform for the entertainment and dancing of the guests at the party of Mr Ba’s ri patron. handing them out to his assembled team of musicians. We discover sequential logic and cross-referencing. 3) The Print Age So.

And for music . it can now be captured as audio or images . Now you can not only have a famous song in your living room on a piece of paper . by an international artist… and unlike the piano in your parlour.whi is not. It’s one thing to read a book that someone else is also reading and be able to have a conversation about it. distribution and retail of dots on pages. e effect of that media shi on our minds is something that he is now perhaps best known for: “e Global Village” . 4) The Electric Age en suddenly . Morse and Bell ange the world again with their magnets and sparks and whatnot. take it home. it will sound the same every single time you play it.Bam! Marconi.you can have an idealised performance of that song. as you might think. comes recording. People can go into a shop. some sort of caring.THE DIGITAL AGE 17 main way in whi money is made from music is through the creation.and mass broadcast. You’ll notice that number keeps geing smaller. e main way in whi our brains take in information about the world in whi we live and how we can make sense of it is fundamentally altered. of course. Volta. Faraday. the Electric Age completely transforms our media environment again. Franklin. and play it badly on the piano in the parlour.with electricity. It’s something quite different again to simultaneously witness man seing foot on the moon along with millions of other people all across the globe. sharing `hands across the water' thing (villages can be quite problematic and claustrophobic collections of people). Of course. Tesla. buy a famous song. Edison. e sheet music publishers WERE the music industry . e radical shi in media environment that the Electric Age brings about is what exercises McLuhan the most. this was a massive allenge to the music industry that came before it. e Print Age lasted a good 500 years. Not only can culture be mass produced. At any rate.

radio airplay.and not where we’re going. superstars. We can’t see how different it is yet. listening to internet radio or reading newspapers on the web.more importantly . top 40 arts. because of what McLuhan called the `Rear View Mirror' effect. retail stores with display shelves.and these recording companies threatened their livelihoods. It’s over.THE DIGITAL AGE 18 . It’s just not the main way that happens anymore. just as the other ages represented fundamental differences in our media environment and . e old sheet music industry fought the recorded music industry tooth and nail.and it’s still possible to make money making and selling it. the recorded music industry even fought radio. Besides. but it’s not. We’re in a new age now. the dream of being signed to a major label and the album and single as the main ways in whi music is produced and consumed. Who was going to buy records if people could hear them for nothing on the wireless? But just as the previous models of music business had survived in some marginalised form from one age to the next. at’s not what we’re doing.who we were as human beings. CDs. Hell.prey mu everyone had to adapt.and certainly in the early days. We’re on the internet and that’s different. tapes. e content of any new medium is its predecessor. e Electric Age is aracterised by TV shows. records. e Electric Age lasted for about 100 years. 5) The Digital Age We’re in the Digital Age now. We see where we’ve come from . . We might think we’re wating TV online. how were local musicians going to make any money in concert halls if a single artist in another country could record one performance of a song and sell it all over the world? And the answer is . We always look at our media environment in reverse . More on this soon. is is an epoal ange. it’s still possible to buy sheet music today . or even where we are. We think it’s still the main thing.

is is not an entirely deterministic process.we have the opportunity to remember that it wasn’t always this way.recordings are now becoming marginalised. whi is far from the full picture. But don’t forget: you can still walk into a shop and buy sheet music . not a `death of' anything. print.with all that’s different about the media environment in the digital age. It’s as revolutionary and game-anging as writing. e way in whi we take in information and how we make sense of the world around us is increasingy digital. And that’s the countable and counted music industry. rather than simply have them happen to us. but because CDs are the last hurrah of the electric age. rather than broadcast or print. But we have a oice.in fact. at’s a mu longer discussion. And while the record industry. Not even CDs. the film industry and the publishing industry remind us that we are consumers and they are the content providers .even a whole shelf (or e-book reader) full of them . or the discovery of electricity.it’s just not the main way in whi music is produced and consumed anymore. iPods to USB keys . and it needn’t be a aracteristic of the Digital Age.THE DIGITAL AGE 19 A shifting of ratios You could fill another book . CD sales are not declining because of piracy. is is a shiing of ratios. In fact. sat navs to digital cameras.what we surround ourselves with .has fundamentally anged.the media environment we’re immersed in . From mobile phones to laptops. e point I’m trying to make here is that digital is different. it probably can’t be. I saw data last week that showed that the record industry now represents the economic value of just less than a third of the music industry overall. Like sheet music when recordings came along . if we understand the process. YouTube to Skype. Despite the fact that it seems I’m saying that tenology makes us what we are . . we can oose the adaptations that we make. It so profoundly and radically impacts upon everything we do that it’s once again anging our brains. It’s quite literally reshaping us and rewiring our brains.

people still want recordings of music. We’ve been in the digital age for about 20 years. is is not like the ange between vinyl and CD.do it now. point cameras at it.and increasingly so. but it’s worth repeating . by all means . Our media ages are geing shorter.THE DIGITAL AGE 20 e internet is not a marketing platform for bands and nor is it merely a marketplace for content. is is a complete transformation of the media environment. economically . is is not a one-to-many medium. and the things about whi the conversation takes place. e way to make meaningful musical content in the 21st century is not simply to make records and then point the internet at them . As our new environment envelops us. and of the ways in whi people behave. make and do. People still want sheet music. And this new media environment is not set up in a broadcast.the shi to the online environment is not a shi in format. It’s more like the shi from printed sheet music to recordings and broadcasting. and call it a TV show. So whatever it is you’re going to do to adapt to the Digital Age . I’ve said it before. Of course. It’s the current media environment.but do consider the fact that you’re deciding to operate in an increasingly shallow end of the pool. television.any more than you would put on a play in a theatre. It’s just not the main way in whi music is produced and consumed anymore . at’s different and it radically anges who we are. . start having conversations. An evolutionary process Our brains are evolving again. ere are only two types of content of any value online: conversation.start doing Digital Age stuff.and even culturally . newspapers and so-called `traditional' music distribution. mass production paradigm. like radio.speaking. People still want broadcasting. Make an album. History’s speeding up. and what we say. we become involved in the biggest conversation our world has ever known. Stop making records. Stop making Electric Age media . adapt and operate in that media environment.

logical and sequential fashion.completely inscribe our world. In fact. broadcast. and before that. . I believe that this dominant form of communication absolutely shapes the way in whi we understand the world around us. etc.rather than in the surrounding all-at-once fashion that oral cultures are immersed in. like beads on a string . e fact that online (digital) media are different from electric (analogue) media doesn’t just ange those media artefacts . social and consumption aspects of our lives. and before that .visual.and this causes problems. Media are. But as McLuhan pointed out. we have difficulty seeing our current environment for what it is. as McLuhan put it. we seem to always act as if we’re living in the previous media environment (seeing the world through a `rear-view mirror') . . in the same way we were living in an Electric Age. We learn to apprehend the world in a linear. We were once in a Scribal Age. However. e way in whi we get information. and that there are economic and social barriers to it. Because we only experience the world through the information that comes in through our senses. in a Print Age. Changes to our media environment don’t just ange the economic. extensions of the senses. Dominant modes of communication shape the ways in whi we think. sonic. ey ange us. rough the printed alphabetic language. By acting as if we should conform to the rules of the electric.it anges us. mass-production.an Oral Age. Changing the nature of those inputs anges the nature of our experience.THE DIGITAL AGE 21 I’m convinced that we’re living in a Digital Age. I’m also aware that the benefits of that age are not evenly distributed. In a literate society. we read books. I know that we are not uniformly living in this Digital Age. we take in information one word at a time.both online and off . culture and media completely transforms the way in whi we experience the world. And it’s for that reason that the tenological shi encountered by the music industry is significant. digital tenology . and thereby our selves. the input to those senses . legal.are increasingly the dominant modes of communication.

or should act as if it still is the way it was in the previous media environment. Where `music' is media.we fool ourselves into thinking the world should be other than it so plainly is. . By understanding these shis and accepting them for what they are. when I say `Online'. And that’s what we’re working towards here. lawsuits and confusion. you can begin to see how and where very practical and pragmatic new strategies can be developed and deployed to take advantage of the aracteristics of this new environment. I realise that this seems all very theoretical and abstract. And this causes tension.even in the face of radical tenological and environmental transformation . how it is composed. Some of these processes are clear and obvious. distributed. we are offered new opportunities to specialise and thrive. some are obscured and unexpected. But all of them shape the new media environment. produced. It has aracteristics that I’ll explore in more depth as we go along. So. I mean connected. digital. performed.THE DIGITAL AGE 22 analogue media world . but by following this mu of the argument. discrete. `online music' suggests a profound shi in terms of what music is. rather than pretend that the world continues to be. abstractly mathematical (rather than concretely physical) and environmentally transformative. the digital world is the online world. and allenge our ability to adapt and evolve. To me. promoted and consumed.

share text. For the purposes of this section. allowing people all over the world to communicate. for 23 . ite oen when people start talking about Internet tenologies. but also purase it over the internet. Welcome to the Internet. You may not need to read this section. Instead. impoverish the public domain or use their immense lobbying power to sway public policy in their favour with regard to digital media tenologies and copyright. Even today. whi account for a significant proportion of the data traffic on the internet. so I think it’s useful to just start with a few basics and work from there. But if it’s helpful. audio and images as digital files — and connect in ways that had previously been impossible. here you go…. It’s a network of computers. and you may have heard of peer-to-peer filesharing tenologies like BitTorrent and Limewire. voice-over-internet programmes like Skype. whi form the majority of internet use. You’ll no doubt be familiar with web pages and email. and internet-capable media players like iTunes. is is not that conversation. not everyone is immediately at home online. that allow you to not just play music. this is a conversation about tenology – and while a conversation about tenology will have an ethical dimension to it.4 The Internet explained Apologies if this section seems a bit rudimentary. the first thing they want to do is have a conversation about morality. we are not interested in whether people who download music are “pirates” or “thieves” – and nor are we particularly interested (at least for the moment) in whether major corporations lo down culture. en there are other applications like instant messaging soware su as Live Messenger or Adium. Let’s not have that right now.

because we have entrened positions and strong emotional aaments to those positions. is is a transition to entirely new system that is as different from the world of CDs and records as that world was from the one in whi sheet music was the main thing. you have to forget the idea that it’s a new format like records. cassees and CDs were. and what it does. It does this. because of its massive connectivity and the fact that everything on it is digital. It’s all data.THE INTERNET EXPLAINED 24 the moment what we are interested in is the tenology itself. it looks something like this: 1101100011 0100110111 0001101001 1111011011 0010111101 1011011011 0000101100 0111011001 0111011000 1001100101 1101100011 0100110100 1000010110 1111011011 0010111111 0011001111 0000101100 0111011011 0011011011 0001101001 1111011011 1001011110 1101101101 1000010110 0011101100 1001110110 0010011001 0101101100 0110100110 1001000010 1101111011 0110010111 1110011001 1110000101 1000111011 0110011011 0110001101 0011111011 0110010111 1011011011 0110000101 1000111011 0010011101 1000100110 0101011011 0001101001 1010010000 1011011110 1101100101 1111100110 0111100001 0110001110 1101100110 1101101001 1001010101 1001011100 1101001000 0101101111 0111001100 1100110011 0011110000 1010110011 0011110011 0110110100 1101110001 1010010111 0011010010 0001011011 0110110011 0011011001 1000100111 0110011001 1001111000… . Whether it’s a recipe for soup. Understanding the Internet First of all.to the internet and to the computers that deal with it. Digital media have different aracteristics to analogue media. a Hollywood blobuster. because so oen the morality conversation gets in the way of our understanding of the tenological environment. e internet anges things. So lets put those aside for the moment and just look at what the Internet is. Digital media is made out of ones and zeros. a home movie. We can come ba to that later. a new hit record or your band’s demo . Digital is different. I point this out now. an email to your mother.

or they can adapt to the new medium and start making television programmes. is is important for a number of reasons. ey either continue to make theatre productions and plays and hope that it comes across okay on the new platform .including music media .it’s another original. at’s just the way that it is.THE INTERNET EXPLAINED 25 …and so on. So anyone can ange any piece of media. Radio.it’s a world of communication. it means that your music is just mathematics. ere’s a copy on your own hard drive . it would be a degraded copy of the original.and all you were doing was looking. e analogy I oen find myself using is that it’s like what happens to theatre directors when you point television cameras at their work and put it on TV. for that maer. Photoshop. connectedness and copying. If I’m copying the ones and zeroes. ird. Or any other kind of media. it means that copying is the easiest thing in the world to do. edit. ProTools. is is all that programmes like Logic. you make a copy on several computers in different places all over the world. you can’t avoid it. . Final Cut. Second. But it’s a medium that includes and swallows other media. If I was making an analogue recording of your music. you can ange. First. and Word are doing when they manipulate media files — it’s all just (just?) mathematics with a user-friendly front end. ey are identical in every respect. In fact.and any other media . ey cease to be things in themselves and become just part of the whole online experience. So . Including your recording of your music. television. Just by reading my website. The Online Medium e other thing to know about the internet is that it’s a medium.is endlessly replicable. then the recording is not a copy . it means that your music . and so by doing clever mathematical stuff.become nothing more than `content' on the new online medium. print and all other media . remix and process it.

It’s not about learning new skills. you need to make a decisive break with the old way of doing things and instead aempt to `go native' in the new online environment. So… the skills you have in making the art that you make will still come into play. as it has existed for around sixty years. But just as our theatre director doesn’t need to know how television transmission works — nor even how to operate a camera — you don’t have to worry about `not being tenical'. it’s exciting. Does that mean I think that you should stop making `music' and start `making internet'? Actually. at’s not to say I think you should stop being a musician or a music industry entrepreneur. there’s a distinctive break in the way in whi they operate. And best . is one just happens to be a biggie. Some of us are off to a flying start and others are standing at the brink of it looking at a confusing and slightly scary landscape. It’s about understanding a different world. at’s exactly what it means. ese things are artificial constructs that can and do ange over time.THE INTERNET EXPLAINED 26 One is not beer nor worse than the other. You just have to worry about what the parameters and conditions of the new medium are. just as the adapted theatre director who understands television still makes dramatic productions using those deep understandings of narrative. Don’t be put off — it’s not the wild west and it’s not riddled with pirates and gangsters. Just that the medium of music. is not the `natural condition' of music business. pace and dramatic tension — but equally. is applies. To thrive in the online environment. yes it does. it’s completely within your grasp and it’s where your best ance of making a living from music lies. aracter. no maer what you might read in the press. and what expectations your audience has in this new world. while the one who resolutely refuses to ange is more likely to experience difficulties and will complain bierly that television is stealing the audience and making it very difficult to survive in the world of drama these days. But the hypothetical theatre director who adapts to the new medium and starts working on its own terms is far more likely to have ongoing success. I don’t care whether you’re a solo singer-songwriter or a major record label. It’s fine.

let’s talk about the actual aracteristics of the internet. media players and so on. But he was nine and he wanted a measure. we can make all sorts of distinctions between contemporaneous events. and are entirely accustomed to: “Dad… how long is `now'?” It’s a good question. I’ve also made the observation that quite a lot of the time. and I think it’s generational. let me tell you about the next generation of my own family.say. he asked me the kind of question most parents both dread. As a Digital Native sees it When my son was about 9 years old (ba in 2001). Digital . but it feels like there’s probably a beer way to approa this. rather than in analogue format. he has grown up thinking digitally.to do online music. instant messengers. is was the moment I realised that because of the prevailing media environment. and all of the different things that can plug into it are like appliances. the web . I don’t think I could have even formulated that question at his age. Web browsers. What’s the difference? Analogue media are continuous. he was asking for the sample rate of human experience. I’ve made the observation in the past that the internet can be thought of as being like electricity. email soware. And I’m not saying that as the proud father of a budding philosopher — I mean.THE INTERNET EXPLAINED 27 of all. Whi means that we also need to talk about the aracteristics of digital media generally. It’ll do the job. your audience and your music. I don’t think my brain was wired up to ever wonder about that. Philosophically. when we use the one of these things . And to do that. Essentially. you can put it together in any way that suits you. So now that we’ve got that idea lodged in your head. the experience of instantaneity and the idea of the zero-sized point along a line that stretes from the past into the future. ink of the groove on a record or the joined-up flow of a waveform. the effect is a bit like trying to dry your hair with a toaster.

and trying to map the movie into a conceptual network of films by a particular director. To the digital ild (Jake. Music generally accompanies other activities: making things in . Travel diagonally downwards still happens. A music file needs to play on every conceivable platform. you’re a lile bit further down. Wating a film also involves a visit to IMDB or a fan site. then moment by moment. is stuff is important to him. Everything is universal and platform-independent. you start at the top of a slide and you continue on down in one smooth motion until you’re at the boom. or of a particular genre (zombie films. are discrete. It’s significant that the digital native in our family is now a young adult. 1976). Sitting still and just listening to something without either moving around or looking at something is decidedly unusual. it is broken and useless. To an analogue 9 year-old (me. A Word document has to work and display identically on every type of computer it comes into contact with. ink of the individual samples that follow ea other in rapid succession on a CD. He’s also prey mu a key target consumer for the vast majority of the record industry.THE INTERNET EXPLAINED 28 media. If something works on one device and doesn’t work on another. starring a particular actor. So here’s the world as he experiences it: Digital media. e way in whi Jake thinks about a lot of things is based upon the way in whi he receives most of his information about the world. mostly). Understanding media texts happens as a result of connecting them to other things. mixed together with other digital things and rebuilt into something else. being made of universally shared components (ie: 1s and 0s) are easily broken into their parts. But it’s interesting that the way of thinking and understanding the world is transformed. like an analogue record. An analogue slide. you start at the top of a slide. and so on in rapid succession until you rea the boom. All the world is screen mediated . the net result is the same. And these days. then a lile bit further. 2001). All texts are hypertexts. Of course.except for portable listening. he’s a music producer and sound engineer. ’sounds like’ a digital slide (or a CD). on the other hand.

joined to other things. rather than vandalism. I’m sure that what he does on the computer is neither typical. and traditional one-to-many structures of authority and power.for a qui. nor particularly unusual. is is a world of complexity . ronology. and transferred from device to device. Now. Media products are therefore texts in themselves. Digital media are flexible and adaptable.the default sear is on YouTube. but that’s gone now .and finding out what his friends do online will ange his behaviours for a time to see whether this new thing fits with how he wants to experience the world. but as an ethnographic observation of a digital native. and raw material for things that haven’t been invented yet.it’s part of the music. cut up into smaller bits. Where the music comes from is next to irrelevant. iTunes is the player of oice. digital media can be time shied. broadcast FM radio for instance).THE INTERNET EXPLAINED 29 Photoshop. e Soundcloud waveform is not simply decorative . but it’s not the default mode of acquisition either. ey are broadly independent of geography. ey can be reworked into new media forms. e idea of a song without visual accompaniment is almost something of an anaronism. I tell you this stuff not because these things are essential components of the digital world. one-listen fix . But certain things are constant regardless of this ameleon behaviour. part of a wider body of works. Holly- . Finding a song quily that he doesn’t already own . Unlike analogue media (say. not a music site or even Google. playing games.and hardly missed at all. but VLC Media player works for those media files that don’t fit into the iTunes world. and new online habits are quily pied up and discarded. and can be dissected to say and do things that were never originally intended for. is is a creative act. learning all there possibly is to know about the Marvel universe (he’s in tou with his inner geek) and reading his RSS feeds. Even when su power relationships can be identified as coming into play (eg: major record labels. Pandora was good for a while. Buying music on CD is not an alien concept.

comics . certainly different. Like the medium of television that turned the medium of theatre into content. True. rather than the exception.but what’s the internet? Tenically speaking. Other people notice that newspapers seem to not work the way they used to. socially.okay . Whi is a bit like saying that radio is a system of transmiers and receivers that communicate using electromagnetic waves. the internet turns all other media into content.even the medium we call music . But we overlook the more significant fact that the more we are immersed in the digital world. Or our consumption and interaction around radio programmes has altered. at’s the bit we miss. . we’re noticing the tenological shis in our media environment. culturally and psyologically. films.THE INTERNET EXPLAINED 30 wood studios). spoken lectures. And yes. Or that our relationship to text and images on a page is different. television. Everything. Everything looks new. So . but not useful. but because by being immersed in a digital environment. perhaps exciting. the internet is a network of networks. And the reason that relationship has necessarily altered is not because people are thieves or because the tangible artefact is lost when you have a download-only piece of music. We keep looking at the fact that music online seems to be a different kele of fish to music offline. You may have spoed one or two alterations to that relationship over the past decade yourself. we are anged. Books. sometimes just plain wrong. circumventing the full effect of that relationship is the norm. It’s groups of computers connected with other groups of computers in an array that allows them all to communicate using a shared protocol. its grandeur and its importance… but it profoundly anges our relationship to it. the more we are altered by it. radio.get `demoted' to content. at doesn’t take away from music’s art. What was once the arcane dominion of haers and the holders of specialist tenical knowledge is now the lingua franca of the digital native.

And as radical as some people like to think they are. compositional forms are largely shaped by the cultures to whi they belong. My job.THE INTERNET EXPLAINED 31 Sometimes when we see things differently. ree minute pop songs are not that length nor in that structural form because of some natural in-built aracteristic of music. And my first tip? Stop pretending that they’re not. as a friend of mine has it. Digital Animals. e physical aracteristics and limits of the record. at’s all I’m saying. It anges us as human beings. produce and experience. It’s not just a distribution methodology for recorded music or a bigger antenna for a radio station. Adaptation doesn’t mean doing different things. We become. So what is the internet? It’s an environment within whi we are immersed. It’s not a delivery platform for newspapers or a secondary carrier for television shows. Far more than what we consume. is to try and put into words the ways in whi this kind of understanding can be helpful to someone who wants to start or continue to make a living from music given that both the environment and the people in it are now different. we have to consider the possibility that the way in whi we see is what has anged. the successful organisms adapt and thrive. it means being different. and new dictates of its dominant medium. . It’s what sounds right to us because it was wrien for the electric age. and the dictates of music radio profoundly altered our understanding of what a ’song’ is. But I’m not here to tell you how to make music. In a new environment. produce and experience . and still anging. as I imagine it. where those were the dictates of the medium.it affects how we consume. So to answer the question ’surely you’re not saying that we should compose for the internet?’ I have to say that’s prey mu exactly what I’m suggesting. We’ve got a new culture.

`Online Music' is music that is aracterised by its online-ness. Digital Music… these all have particular connotations. I’m talking about the whole medium of popular music and all of the stages of its production. as well as what I mean by `Online'. you’ll recall that when I say Online. Internet Music. and therefore what you do as a result.and Online Music So we’ve covered what I mean by `Music'. What sort of music is it? It’s Online Music. What do they mean when you say them together? You’ll remember that when I say `music'. of course. Likewise. and you can call these things what you like. distribution. what you can do with that meaning conceptually. I’m not just talking about web pages. So having come up with something of a working definition of what I mean when I say `online' and what I mean when I say `music' it will hopefully be instructive to look at the two of them as a single idea: Music Online – or. at’s what they mean separately. Online Music. `Music Online' is music that has been put into an online environment. Music on the Internet. I’m interested in both.5 Music Online . and now it happens to be online. Now. this is an artificial distinction. promotion and consumption. It’s music. I am not only talking about recordings of music. but essentially 32 . I’m talking about the whole ecology of the online environment. e electricity into whi we can plug so many internet appliances. to put a slightly different flavour to it. Because the order in whi you say those words gives a subtle shi to what it can mean. first and foremost.

disseminate. You have a band – so you set up a Facebook page (it used to be MySpace.AND ONLINE MUSIC 33 they’re interangeable names that will suit most ordinary purposes. But if you’ll bear with me just this once. So this is about taking what you do as a musician or independent music business. Puing music online is usually taken as a step to expand audiences. being pedantic in this way does lead to a broader way of thinking about what we do when we connect music up to the online environment… and what that might be leading us towards. efficiently or perhaps profitably. You’ve made a record. It’s the stuff of our everyday activities. but the internet is deployed as a tool and a strategy in order to aieve whatever purpose the music had. on the other hand. Take Music. In other words.and this is a problem I’ll come to shortly). You’ve got a concert coming up. I think this is the area that most people in the music industries overlook as a possibility. what I call `Music Online' will seem to be the thing to be concerned with. It’s only people like me who think the semantics are even remotely important — and who like to clarify the language in order to make these distinctions. And we live in a world in whi the internet is an important component of our media environment. expanding or otherwise contributing to the rea and exposure of the music. distribution or consumption process it comes) exists independently of the internet. is is music activity aracterised by its online-ness. e music activity (from whiever part of the media production. or make a sale. so you use SongKi to make sure all of your fans know about it. To most readers. Online Music (for la of a beer term . put online. rea new markets. promote a recording or live performance. Music Online is Music. and puing it on the internet with the intention of enhancing. more effectively.MUSIC ONLINE . remember?). enjoy and (hopefully) make money through music. is a different order of things. so you make sure it’s available on iTunes (or beer still. add Online and hope for the best. and . promote. We currently engage in the music world. doing whatever it is we do in order to create. Bandcamp).

is essentially a transitional phase. you could actually take that difficult translation process out of the equation.AND ONLINE MUSIC 34 it’s a conceptual leap that you tend to miss if you don’t think to put those two words together in that order. and making adaptations so that they can survive and thrive. But if you were to take a more radical. Remembering again (and I’m going to keep reminding you) that when I say Music. this will happen when music industries people partner with tenologists to design the `appliance' that will aieve the goal they have in mind (ie: to stop drying their hair with a toaster. therefore. deliberate and forwardthinking approa to the new digital environment. and simply build the thing you do as a native element of the online world.MUSIC ONLINE . and transplanting them into the new environment. Music Online is about selecting organisms from the offline world. Transitional media Music Online. you might instead wish to emulate their process. You may find some of them useful as part of your puing-music-online strategy.fm. and some other organisations and services you may happen to think of are music enterprises `built out of internet'. It’s a way of adapting to a new environment. is the key to New Music Strategies. Where Online Music is about being native to that environment and creating music business `organisms' with what you might like to think of as digital DNA. is. and there are only a handful examples of it around. and then squeeze it onto the internet. I’m talking about all of the different stages from the production through to the consumption of musical texts. to me. Perhaps you’ll have heard of Topspin. . and instead invent the hairdryer). You might know Soundcloud. Normally. Online Music happens when the internet is part of the design process of key elements in that ain. Rather than do something. ese. is is a far less common approa at present. You’ll be familiar with Last. giving them new roles to fulfill.

MUSIC ONLINE . It isn’t transmied via radio waves for a start . the devices that we use to listen are different.but also the infrastructure is different. It still smas of something in transition. But if we were really being fussy with our semantics. or read a newspaper on the web . the professional practices are different. exciting – perhaps troubling – distinctive differences that we need to come to terms with (it’s horseless / it’s wireless / it’s online). this stuff is still so new.the content of any new medium is its prede- . When we listen to internet radio . `made anew'. but we’re also aware that it has some new. native media category.by whi I meant that once you put it on the internet. We understand what it is in terms of an old form (of course: it’s a carriage / it’s telegraphy / it’s music).we’re not listening to the radio. rather.or wat TV online. you might as well not call it radio anymore. we’d probably be looking for a whole new word at this point. and the fact that that’s different is important. And like the phrases `horseless carriage' and `wireless telegraphy'. Like I said before . We’re on the internet. we oen miss the fact that we should actually be designing and learning to operate cars and radios. `online music' is a term that hides from us the new and dominant form that is emerging. It is. When we marvel at the horslessness of the carriage and the wirelessness of the telegraphy. ink of this idea of Online Music as like being at the `horseless carriage' / `wireless telegraphy' phase of this medium. In fact.even the nature of the programmes are oen different.AND ONLINE MUSIC 35 But even Online Music is not quite right to describe this new. and the necessity for radio output to be part of a radio station is gone. wating television or reading a newspaper. Of course music won’t be replaced or lost within the online environment. it’s not necessarily time-bound. linear or local . rather than something new. the political economy is different. None of the aracteristics that we imagine to be `essential' to the medium of radio necessarily remain intact. I once asserted that “there’s no su thing as internet radio” . What we don’t see is that it’s part of the process towards being something else entirely. that most commentators see the process of adaptation as the endgame of digital evolution.

that’s what maers. at’s not the Guardian newspaper you just emailed me a link to. that we overlook the medium. for music businesses. . and provides the context for the anges. ose aren’t records we’re listening to. For music makers. And it’s the medium that is the message. And then forget that we did. we’re wating TV. it’s important for us to not only be aware of that fact. It’s the medium that is the whole point.MUSIC ONLINE . but to properly understand the aracteristics and affordances of that new medium. We put our earlier media into our new media forms. McLuhan thinks (and I tend to agree with him) that we’re so busy looking at the content. at’s what has the effects. is is why we’re talking about this stuff. And for our purposes here. And for us to adapt to this new environment. for music fans .AND ONLINE MUSIC 36 cessor.and for music this is what’s important. We’re not aending plays through our television set.

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