Corey H. Abramson

Digital Music & Culture - Research Paper (.pdf) and Pechu Kucha (.pptx)





* *external image 88x31.png* *
Digital Music & Culture by Corey Harris Abramson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at templenewmedialiteracies.wikispaces.com.




TABLE OF CONTENTS
Statement of Purpose
Background Information
-Intensity
-Exposure and Acquisition
Traditional Economics of the Music & Recording Industries
-Music on the Radio as A Cultural Phenomenon
McLuhan, Lessig & Penenberg
-The Medium [Holds] The Message
-The Curious Case of Sam Cooke
How Internet Radio is Going to Save Popular Culture (Or Will It?)
-Law and Order on The Wild, Wild, Web
-The Music Genome Project: An Objective Approach
-Meta-Tags: A Subjective Approach
--Criticism for Both ApproachesIn Conclusion

Works Cited




Statement of Purpose
As an avid user of digital music listening services, I find it very interesting that music streaming sites like Pandora, MOG, and Grooveshark coexist with illegal downloading and digital piracy. I would like to investigate what that says about the state of culture in Marshall McLuhan’s global village of Web 2.0. There is growing concern in communications academia over the lack of original culture in recent decades.
Web services such as those mentioned enable users and community members to exchange, suggest and propagate digital content for free. At the same time, however, anyone with an Internet connection and the ability to follow a few simple directions can freely and illegally download the same content, if not more and often weeks before that content is legally available.


My research project utilized field study methods to simultaneously answer two key questions:


    • How do inhabitants of McLuhan’s information society acquire their music as opposed to in the past?
    • How does music work, as a cultural medium of McLuhan’s information society?


Given the answers to these questions, I hoped to better understand the ethnography of a digital, information based landscape.


Background InformationI first investigated traditional means of music acquisition and listener habits. From cultural observation, as well as marketing charts, one can certainly see that acquisition and listening habits vary from person to person, family to family, and culture to culture. Some people enjoy their content on the go, in the house, maybe even in their cars. We listen to iPods, compact-discs, terrestrial radio, vinyl and so on. The point being - everyone has individual tastes, preferences, and budgets.
Intensity
We also listen to music at different intensities- some people prefer mixed music (“playlisters”), some lean towards albums and discographies (“aficionados”), some enjoy having their music chosen for them by algorithm(“streamers”) or by disc jockeys (“radio-heads”). For some, it really doesn’t matter.
One interesting case that I frequently encountered throughout my exploration of these communities was that of the “audiophile” - these music listeners often have vast collections of highly documented and organized music. They exist in both analog and digital music circles but stand out from the rest in their quest for the highest quality of recordings. Audiophiles go out of their way to acquire content as close to the “real thing” as they can spending extensive amounts for high end speakers, players#, amplifiers and headphones. The digital content audiophiles scour the depths of the Internet for pristine recordings often (but not always) paying more for “lossless audio codec” versions of songs. These files are large in size and provide listeners with high fidelity (true to life) listening experiences. For some listeners, nothing else can compare.
That being said - there are many who are completely indifferent to quality of audio format, fidelity, and so forth. The beauty of music as a kind of pop culture, is that we all contribute to it collectively by exercising our own preferences. We all have our own distinctive tastes and with modern technology have the means to find what we want, when we want it and to listen to it as we deem fit.

Exposure and Acquisition
While most people get music through friends’ suggestions, a considerably more complex picture can be painted. As diverse as peoples listening habits are today, so too are their methods of acquiring and discovering music. In today’s information society, options are limitless. Perhaps one keeps tabs on the Top 40 charts, or heard a new bands play an opening set for an established favorite. Many inherit musical tastes from their parents, some still follow music blogs and magazines. Internet radio, as will be discussed, can be a great way of discovering new content. Other listeners acquire their tastes through other media - movie soundtracks, television commercials and so on.
Point is, the Internet has allowed fans to create tiny communities for appreciating and propagating every imaginable sub-genre of music. Additionally sites like MySpace and Pure Volume# allow amateur musicians to develop strong and distanced followings. These small trading communities, blogs, lists, and so on have changed the way many people think about music.

Traditional Economics of the Music & Recording Industries
It used to be that distribution and sales of music was a lot more linear – hear a single on the radio, buy the album, play it for your friends and maybe go to a concert hall. Each of these steps would warrant the exchange of money from one party to another, from the very top to the very bottom of the ladder and back again.
The Internet, web 2.0, and recent technology have changed all of that - now we’re cutting out a lot of steps and providing those looking it with a lot more freedom to handle their music as they sit fit.
That leads us to my second part of my inquiry - How does music work, as a cultural medium of McLuhan’s information society?


Music on the Radio as A Cultural Phenomenon
Technologies exist to make our lives easier. When we are confronted with an obstacle, we craft tools using our acquired skills to overcome it. As society develops, so too do its needs and as a result its technologies. This cycle has been in place since we first discovered the wheel – without it we may never have gotten to the automobile, the airplane, the space shuttle and so on. The same can be said for communications technologies - fire, language, written word, etc.

Terrestrial radio, one such technology, served as the major communication tool the world over for generations. We turned to our radios for news, entertainment and education (Hillard & Keith, 2001). The medium provided an escape from the great depression, the first broadcast advertisement and the interconnectivity we needed to unite a quickly growing nation. As far as culture and entertainment go, the radio has played an integral part in shaping the American character since the early years of radio broadcast.

Without terrestrial radio, the entire American economic system may have turned out drastically different. It took radio to establish the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), the FRC (Federal Radio Commission), countless copyright laws, and the technological advancements to ready the television, computer, and many future communications technologies.

Communication – the act of transferring information from one party to another has not always been as interconnected. We, as humans, have seen it grow from one-to-one conversations, one-to-many (oral tradition, the printed word, telegraphy, telephony, television) and finally many-to-many (the ARPANET, World Wide Web, and finally the social media revolution we are in today).
We are, however, in a new time – a much more interconnected time that bridges the gaps of borders, time zones, nations and people. We have tuned in and dialed up to Web 2.0.


McLuhan, Lessig & Penenberg

Marshall McLuhan’s global village (Penenberg, 2009) – has provided us with new technologies for new frontiers. Participants are much more independent than in years past – the media are becoming interactive. A message is sent and we respond. We bookmark our favorite sites, share our content over vast social media landscapes, we dig, we stumble upon and we blog. This back and forth, this dialogue, makes us different media consumers than those of generations past. Not only are we consuming - we are creating, remixing and distributing as well.# Whether we forward something along can determine whether or not the next big meme #takes off and becomes something.
We know what we like, we know (for the most part) how to find it and most importantly how to share it. Internet radio – streaming audio content across the web – is changing how we listen to music, how we discover it, and how we share it. Today, music lovers are turning more and more towards digital, streaming sources instead of spinning records and compact discs.



The Medium [Holds] The Message

Scholar James Paul Gee explains that we acquire our culture through a combination of acquisition and learning – that is to say an amalgamation of trial and error learning as well as spoon-fed facts (Gee, 1989). With the advent of communications technology, the inevitable advertisement world that comes attached to it, and the gentrification of worldwide culture promoted by a deficit-based education system, many communications scholars fear that we have not created, or known, real culture in many, many years (Penenberg, 2009).

In 1964, McLuhan proposed that “The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology” - in other words the form of a mediated communication, and the attached cultural implications are embedded into message being sent.#
Essentially, McLuhan is saying that we need to take a step back and look at our mediated messages for what they really are. Simplistically speaking, they are just messages transmitted from one person to another in a mediated fashion – through some form of technological help.


We can learn a lot about the nature of these mediated messages (music, television, film, print, etc) by examining the social and physical context of their delivery. In the same way that we look back to old television and film to better understand the mindsets of those before us, we can look at just how we discover, spread and take in these messages today.

The Curious Case of Sam Cooke
Allow me for a moment to indulge in a personal favorite to illustrate exactly what McLuhan and Penenberg are talking about. The image to the right is just a record right? A photo of a man on a cardboard album cover and the piece of wax inside etched with bumps that when played back at the right speed sounds remotely close to a recording made over 40 years ago. Who cares – its nothing special right?external image SamCooke_AtTheCopaLP.jpg
Couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a Sam Cooke record – and not just any Sam Cooke record – but perhaps one of the most important live recordings ever made. Its from his triumphant second appearance at the overwhelmingly white upper class Copa Copana club in the mid 1960’s that happened in the middle of the civil rights movement.


Before proving himself as a ‘crossover’ musician, Cooke’s records were kept exclusively on the R&B charts. That is to say, record companies and radio movers and shakers kept him off of the “white” charts and limited his growth and popularity to the “black” charts. There he still climbed to success, recognition and unilateral fame despite the fact this his music was far from ‘R&B’ and unmistakably ‘pop’ for the time.
With At the Copa, Sam Cooke, made a huge impact on the crossover of black musicians to white charts, the blending and collaboration of artists, crowds, sounds, genres and so on. Cooke actually plays Bob Dylan’s famous Blowin’ in the Wind (which would serve as inspiration for his own civil rights piece - A Change is Gonna Come) on this album to a white audience hinting the beginning of a new chapter of music culture and history.


But the point is its more than just sound - remember the medium is the message.

We call them records because they serve as a snapshot into history. Just as important now as it was when it was originally released, At the Copa served and continues to serve as proof to people fighting for civil rights that things were changing, proof that they had to shift from one thing into something else.

The medium Is the message – Cooke’s live album shows us a few things: not just that we have a cool sound to listen to, but its what it stands for. Its not just how we acquire it, its why we look for it. Its not just about how we listen to it, it’s the fact that we still do. How and why we get a hold of different aspects of our culture is incredibly important.

The same can be said for movies, for books, and so on and so forth.
How Internet Radio is Going to Save Popular Culture (Or Will It?)

With the interconnectivity of the web and the stagnancy of Top 40 driven terrestrial radio, consumers of digital content (to be more specific – digital audio listeners) turn to a variety of sources for their digital music. Some still acquire their content in stores (brick and mortar, though dying, are still around), online through iTunes, streaming song-by-song over video sharing sites like YouTube, through online radio shows or “PodCasts”, streaming online radio station hosts like Last.Fm, Pandora (with its Music Genome Project), newcomer Mog (“[which gives] users a kind of digital gas tank they can use to listen to tracks from its library of 11 million songs”) and finally through peer-to-peer illegal content sharing (Joyce, 2011), (Nakashima, 2011). Each has its own exciting implications on culture and society to explore and learn from.

In his 2009 book Viral Loop, on the interconnectivity of Web 2.0, Adam Penenberg asserts that through this new platform of collaboration and sharing, “the medium is not the message. You are.”(Penenberg, 2009) That is to say that we are forging a new frontier on an impossibly large and interconnected map.

Will Web 2.0 bring culture back to its promising roots before it got clouded by advertisement and capitalist interests? Internet radio solutions, their associated double-viral loop communities, digital music piracy and the last stand of brick-and-mortar music stores may have the answer.

If we look at the trajectory of communications technology in general and parallel it with that of music-based services, the only logical next step is to enter the realm of mobile and social media.Slide11.jpg

As the image at right illustrates, mediated messages started as oral communication to transfer information. Repetition through work songs, gospel call-and-response, the blues, soul, rock and roll and so on all came in turn. Once we had the ability to record these ‘messages’, we shared them in great number over vast distances. As these messages, ideas and cultural elements traveled, new takes on these ideas came into play.


For example, without recordings of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf and so on, bands like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and other British Invasion artists would never have heard Rock & Roll. Likewise, they would never have made it to the United States to influence popular music (blue-eyed soul#), pushing for new media like television (and by proxy MTV) to support music as well as news and traditional entertainment.

As we entered the adolescence of an information based society, video sharing sites like Youtube.com have picked up that burden - spreading new content and culture to more people further away. Enter the best way to organize, participate and remix that culture (ala Lawrence Lessig) social media websites (Myspace, Facebook, etc.) digital content aggregators (Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc.) and mobile media. The new frontier. Endless possibilities for acquisition and collaborative experience.

Law and Order on The Wild, Wild, Web

In many ways, the global village McLuhan described in 1962’s Gutenberg Galaxy# parallels the exciting race to colonize the American West. We are in a race against ourselves to establish some form of law and order in an ever growing, ever developing Web 2.0.

Instead of tuning into traditional radio sources, citizens of the McLuhan’s information society are turning towards digital music sharing services more and more. These exist in a wide variety, but essentially all perform similar functions. While I will cover a host of these newly developed services, its important to remember that they are all vying to recreate a specific type of interaction with music as a form of media.

There are currently two major ways to organize music content online - one takes a more scholarly approach, and the other a community oriented focus.



The Music Genome Project: An Objective Approach
In 2007, a handful of musicologists - professionals - sat down together to break apart catalogues of music by over 400 specific characteristics. Thousands upon thousands of songs of varying genres by hosts of artists from every time period were taken into account. These divisions range from simple - genre, artist, beats-per-minute, style - to complex - presence of specific elements of a given genre, inclusion of complex vocal harmonies, etc. These characteristics when analyzed together paint a picture similar to that of the human genome. It is a wide spanning, objective look at music as culture on the whole.

In terms of practical use, web-services can (and do) utilize the static information the project provides to recommend music based on determined user preferences. Pandora.com, an online radio/playlisting service, utilized this approach.


Users enter predefined characteristics and a ‘randomized’ list of related songs streams out a few at a time. Stations can be based around Artists, Genres, Playlists (i.e. 1960’s Xmas Swing Music, it can get pretty specific) or even individual songs – but still that’s no guarantee that you’ll hear exactly what you set out to listen to.

During each listen, users are able to Like, Dislike or Skip tracks entirely. After a few selections, Pandora is able to figure out common attributes between songs skipped and make the next selection based on your preferences. Major criticisms of this approach parallel most objective attempts at organizing culture.


Meta-Tags: A Subjective Approach
While some services use the genome, others rely almost entirely on other input for Meta Tags– the defining terms that organize digital content. These are sites like Last.Fm, Purevolume, and so on.

Meta-tagging is one way to use the power of McLuhan’s global village to organize information. It relies on the collective power of large groups of users and their computers. As with many Web 2.0 scenarios, the total is equal to the sum of it’s parts. That is to say, when using subjective tagging we must take the good with the bad and hope that enough active users tag responsibly for the betterment of the whole music listening community and not just for themselves.

Tags can be collected in a few ways – through user input, through data mining (such as using a music review web-site's data to auto tag songs), or through the most complex method of auto-tagging based on the audio files themselves. This last method is usually considered the least popular as it requires complex algorithms, powerful programming and large quantities of hard drive space.

Criticism for Both Approaches

In the article, FIVE APPROACHES TO COLLECTING TAGS FOR MUSIC, Douglas Turnbull, Luke Barrington and Gert Lanckriet explore common methods of media management often used in online radio situations. By comparing these approaches, the researchers are able to find a more efficient, effective and ‘realistic’ way of grouping together content – be it user defined or computer calculated.

The authors define digital music tags as, “text-based tokens, such as “happy”, “classic rock” and “distorted electric guitar”, that can be used to annotate songs.” With these tags come a “rich source of semantic information…useful for text-based music retrieval.” There are a handful of established and commonly used ways to collect these tags – some use human input - surveying for information, social tagging websites (such as Last.fm), and music annotation games. Those tagging systems that rely only on computers instead are either text mining web-documents (such as analyzing a music review website) or by autotagging audio content as mentioned previously.

Reoccurring problems are often encountered when using any of these methods. The first is known as the cold start, which “refers to the fact that songs that are not annotated cannot be [included].” This directly relates to the problem of popularity bias – more popular songs are over represented and less popular songs are often less frequently suggested as a result (the short-head, long tail problem).

The researchers encounter the issue of strong labeling as well as weak labeling. The former happens “when a song has been explicitly labeled or not labeled with a tag depending on whether or not the tag is relevant.” Weak labeling, the opposite scenario, describes a situation in which “the absence of a tag from a song does not necessarily indicated that the tag is not relevant.” An example would be a song not having the tag “horn section” may still prominently feature a horn section.

The quality of the tag is also something the researchers were sure to take into account. A quality tag vocabulary “is a large and diverse set of semantic tags, where each tag describes some meaningful attribute or characterization of music.” For the purposes of the research, Turnbull, Barrington and Lanckriet chose not to include personal tags, judgmental tags or tags that represent external knowledge about the track. These subjective tags frequently affect the overall quality of a tag database and can easily throw off users that are unaware of the complexity of tagging.

The researchers prefer tags that have extensive and structured vocabularies (over predetermined, simplistic lists which can lead to over-simplification). Strong structure and a wide array of possible tags lead to the most diverse and effective recommendations. Given that subjectivity enters into the equation, they also prefer multiple taggers and suggest having musicologists tag content as opposed to “non-experts.”

After comparing quantified data, the researchers determined that each “[of the systems] is significantly different...” The results of the study “[confirms] the intuition that systems based on web documents and social tags are influenced by popularity bias, whereas content-based autotagging systems are not.”

By taking the results of their research, those involved have the ultimate goal of combining the approaches they examined to create a more powerful tag-based music retrieval system” such as one that will ultimately utilize content and context simultaneously.


In Conclusion
After studying how we have organized, distributed, listened, shared, and remixed music as culture, it can be determined that no specific web service can appeal to each and every user.


    • How do inhabitants of McLuhan’s information society acquire their music as opposed to in the past?


As explored earlier, we all tend to have our preferences - for quantity and quality of our music. Not everyone will agree on the best way to enjoy something, but they can rally together to promote a listening style that they enjoy.
    • How does music work, as a cultural medium of McLuhan’s information society?


Music is definitely a social medium - it has been since our first mediated messages and it continues to be today in our remixes, rediscoveries and responses. It transmits history, culture and ideas over vast distances, times and ideologies.

    • Given the answers to these questions, I hoped to better understand the ethnography of a digital, information based landscape.


Recent technologies are information based and socially driven - that is to say that the power and reach of our global village comes from within. The user base defines the rules of the community surrounding a culturally motivated service. If users find an issue with the way their content is organized, delivered and protected they will either attempt to make a change from within or move to a new service (perhaps even going as far as to create their own) which more accurately agrees with their take on music listening as a social experience.

Part of this attempt at the ‘perfect’ service includes niche music websites, blogs, user reviews on sites like Amazon and iTunes as well as the breaking apart and remixing of content. Newcomer MOG utilizes a meter that drops as a user listens to content and refills as they share, playlist, tag and recommend. Grooveshark, another service, includes news and promotions direct from the artists and the recording companies. Rexly, a mobile music service, allows members to create groups of user-defined friends to take specific music suggestions from based on user-defined fields. Sounds a lot like new, community-oriented mediated culture.

Is Culture Dead?
In short - no.



Works Cited


Campbell, I., Martin, T., Martin, C., & Fabos, B. (2001). Media essentials, a brief introduction. Bedford/st Martins.

Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 04 Dec. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/70204/blue-eyed-soul>.

Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.
Gee, J. P. (1989). What is Literacy? Journal of Education, 171 (1), 18-25.

Hillard, R. L., & Keith, M. C. (2001). The Broadcast Century and Beyond. Woburn, MA, USA: Butterworth-Heinemann.


Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.

McLuhan, Marshall "Gutenberg Galaxy", 1962 Canadian author, educator, & philosopher (1911 - 1980)

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Canada: McGraw-Hill, 1964. Print.

Nakashima, R. (2011, September 15). MOG adds free music 'gas tank'. Retrieved September 20, 2011, from USA TODAY: http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/story/2011-09-15/mog-music-facebook/50412940/1

Penenberg, A. L. (2009). Viral Loop. New York, NY, USA: Hyperion.


Turnbull, Douglas, Luke Barrington, and Gert Lankriet. "FIVE APPROACHES TO COLLECTING TAGS FOR MUSIC." ISMIR 2008 – Session 2c – Knowledge Representation, Tags, Metadata (2008). Web.

Walker, R. (2009, October 4). The Song Decoders. Retrieved September 20, 2011, from The New
York Times Magazine:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/magazine/18Pandora-t.html?adxnnlx=1316556255-N0s3cq1sfRBirOvInfggjw&pagewanted=all









* *external image 88x31.png* *
Digital Music & Culture by Corey Harris Abramson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at templenewmedialiteracies.wikispaces.com.







------------------------------------
Research Questions. As an avid user of digital music listening services, I find it very interesting that music streaming sites like Pandora, MOG, and Grooveshark coexist with illegal downloading and digital piracy. I would like to investigate what that says about the state of the global community in Web 2.0. Sites like those enable users and community members to exchange, suggest and propagate digital content for free. At the same time, however, anyone with an internet connection and the ability to follow a few simple directions can freely and illegally download the same content, if not more and often weeks before it is legally available.


UPDATED 11/14 - VIA MYMUSICTHING
1) What is the revenue potential for subscription music services?
2) What are the most likely rates per stream?
3) How much money can an artist expect to make from subscription music?
4) Is a compulsory rate a sustainable business model?



I wonder. Given that information, I wonder why users continue to turn to online, clean and legal sources to acquire their music. Why go through the hassle of advertisements or the slight fees to eradicate them when one can just as easily acquire content illegally for free at their convenience. I wonder what sort of communities form around both sides of the situation, what they are like and how they interact.
. I wonder if there is more to music sharing sites than just listening to music. I wonder if there are hierarchies, norms, social cues and customs surrounding the sharing, exchange, recommendation and interconnectivity of the content. I wonder how one chooses one system over another, if they drift back and forth, if the allegiance to one system over another changes and why. I wonder what tactics are used by the legal sites to maintain loyalty, membership, community and interaction. I wonder if the social networking aspects of such communities trump users' interaction and web-time spent on traditional social networking sites, how and why they might bridge the gap, and so on. Comparatively, I wonder how much information is floating around the internet to help people acquire music and other content illegally.

My work plan. I plan on investigating multiple music sharing communities, immersing myself in message boards, forums and online discussions. The topic of illegal content downloading, peer to peer exchange and digital piracy has been rampant in recent news sources, as well as the role of social media affecting real world change (i.e. revolution, social action, protest, and the like). Given that, I plan on scouring sources from multiple angles to see what is being done, what is proposed, and how the individual communities are reacting, if at all to such statements. If I am able, I would like to secure interviews, potentially anonymous if need be, to get an inside view.


My expectations. I hope to walk away with a better understanding of this complex subculture of the internet. I would like to know who is trading, sharing, creating - whether there are trends in the ages, the socio-economic standings. I wish to become a better informed and potentially stronger media consumer as well. Given the state of popular culture, I would like to see where things are going as more and more content is sent through the Web 2.0 process of record, rewrite, recommend, respond.

GREENLIGHTED. Rich and important topic - and one that's dear to my heart in terms of the issues of media literacy, copyright and fair use. there is a fascinating generational disconnect about online piracy. You will want to explore the work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as the scholars who are exploring questions about remix and culture. Read some or all Larry Lessig's book on Remix for your precis.

Back to -> Final Project


EXAMING TAG BASED MUSIC SUGGESTION THROUGH CONTENT AND CONTEXT

In the article, FIVE APPROACHES TO COLLECTING TAGS FOR MUSIC, Douglas Turnbull, Luke Barrington and Gert Lanckriet explore common methods of media management often used in online radio situations. By comparing these approaches, researchers are able to find a more efficient, effective and ‘realistic’ way of grouping together content – be it user defined or computer calculated.

The authors define digital music tags as, “text-based tokens, such as “happy”, “classic rock” and “distorted electric guitar”, that can be used to annotate songs.” With these tags come a “rich source of semantic information…useful for text-based music retrieval.” There are a handful of established and commonly used ways to collect these tags – some use human input - surveying for information, social tagging websites (such as Last.fm), music annotation games. Those tagging systems that rely only on computers instead are either text mining web-documents (such as analyzing a music review website) or by autotagging audio content (which requires complex algorithms, powerful programming and large quantities of hard drive space).

Reoccurring problems are often encountered when using any of these methods. The first is known as the cold start, which “refers to the fact that songs that are not annotated cannot be [included].” This directly relates to the problem of popularity bias – more popular songs are over represented and less popular songs are often less frequently suggested as a result (the short-head, long tail problem).

The researchers encounter the issue of strong labeling as well as weak labeling. The former happens “when a song has been explicitly labeled or not labeled with a tag depending on whether or not the tag is relevant.” Weak labeling, the opposite scenario, describes a situation in which “the absence of a tag from a song does not necessarily indicated that the tag is not relevant.” An example would be a song not having the tag “horn section” may still prominently feature a horn section.

The quality of the tag is also something the researchers were sure to take into account. A quality tag vocabulary “is a large and diverse set of semantic tags, where each tag describes some meaningful attribute or characterization of music.” For the purposes of the research, Turnbull, Barrington and Lanckriet chose not to include personal tags, judgmental tags or tags that represent external knowledge about the track.
The researchers prefer tags that have extensive and structured vocabularies (over a predetermined, simplistic lists which can lead to over-simplification). Strong structure and a wide array of possible tags lead to the most diverse and effective recommendations. Given that subjectivity enters into the equation, they also prefer multiple taggers and suggest having musicologists tag content as opposed to “non-experts.”

After comparing quantified data from the previously mentioned tagging method scenarios, the researchers determined that each “[of the systems] is significantly different, with the exception of Game and Web Documents.” The results of the study “[confirms] the intuition that systems based on web documents and social tags are influenced by popularity bias, whereas content-based autotagging systems are not.”

By taking the results of their research, those involved have the ultimate goal of combining the approaches they examined to create a more powerful tag-based music retrieval system” such as one that will ultimately utilize content and context simultaneously.


Turnbull, D., Barrington, L., & Lanckriet, G. (2008, September 14). FIVE APPROACHES TO COLLECTING TAGS FOR MUSIC. Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Music Information Retrieval .


RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT #1 - DUE 11/15/2011



REXLY Websources: (R#'s)


R1)Branscombe, M. (2011, September 27). Rexly Brings Your Full itunes Library to Facebook & Twitter. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from PRWEB : http://www.prweb.com/releases/Rexly/iPhone/prweb8831021.htm

- in this release article from PRWeb, social media music software Rexly is described as the missing link between iTunes (dormant audio) and agregators like Last.fm. Key talking points are iOS integration and the fundamental need for something like that to be present in a social media experience.




R2)McCarty, B. (2011, September 27). Rexly for iPhone creates the social music experience that Ping never could. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from The Next Web - Apps: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/09/27/rexly-for-iphone-creates-the-social-music-experience-that-ping-never-could/

- Brad McCarty reviews Rexly for iPhone in a way that lines its features up against other mainstream social music sharing applications. A great start as it includes a video of the software and interview snippets with Rexly CEO Joel Resnicow
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R3)Newman, K. M. (2011, August 25). ROCK ON: REXLY MUSIC RECOMMENDER IS SOCIAL, BUT NOT TOO SOCIAL. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from Tech Cocktail: http://techcocktail.com/rexly-music-recommender-2011-08#.TsE0n19WFNg

- Newman presents Rexly as a data start up as opposed to a music start up explaining the company’s M.O., major differences between usual social music services and other key features. “
First, users pick up to six friends whose tastes will heavily influence their recommendations—a departure from sites like Turntable.fm, which let you explore the tunes of unlimited music junkies. Also—jumping off the “like” bandwagon—the Rexly algorithm focuses on actions you take that show real engagement, like spending time listening to a whole album or spending money on a song.
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Spotify & Mog Articles (S#'s)
s1)
David, D. (2011, September 18). Mega Music Meta-Battle: MOG vs. Spotify Reviews. Retrieved Novermber 13, 2011, from My Music Thing: http://mymusicthing.com/mega-music-meta-battle-mog-vs-spotify-reviews/

In this side-by-side comparison, Spotify, the long time frontrunner for social music services stands up to newcomer MOG. Taking some of the most in depth reviews across the web, David breaks them down for major topics discussed - providing a nice overview of the meta music battle.

S2)
Connaker, C. (2011, August 16). MOG v. Spotify Part I, II. Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Computer Audiophile: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/MOG-v-Spotify-Part-I

- By far the most comprehensive Mog v. Spotify article I've come across- in depth analysis of key features, break down of why they matter, how and why each service handles each feature as well as some pretty juicy factoids and number crunching to illustrate and drive home a few points. Relatively unbiased, but I'd like to read it a few more times with the pro-Mog bias in mind.

S3)
David, D. (2011, October 10). Are Subscription Music Services a Sustainable Business Model? . Retrieved November 12, 2011, from My Music thing: http://mymusicthing.com/are-subscription-music-services-a-sustainable-business-model/

- An interesting web article again from audiophile aggregator My Music Thing which discusses real world implications for streaming services and social media aspects involved with the companies I'm interested in. "...artists making their royalty statements public in an effort to show that Spotify is not a viable business partner for a small label or an indie musician."
-----Others1)
Wilson, J. L. (2011, May 5). Rdio Review & Rating. Retrieved November 12, 2011, from PC Magazine: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2384936,00.asp#fbid=A51hdIu9JPy

In this PCMag.com review, Wilson gives music streaming and social networking platform Rdio a fairly optimistic review. Rdio offers an alternative to popular services such as Spotify and Pandora - mobile access, desktop and web access, and heavy social network support. Sign in w/ facebook and you're good to go. I want to keep looking into it as most suggestion based information is 'sponsored' - "The rest of the page reflects the social networking features, too; the main content area has influencers who "know what's cool first." These influencers are comprised of record labels, magazines, and other music-related companies such as Def Jam, The Fader, Spin, and Vice"

2)

Kobrin, M. (2011, Feb 4). This blog turned full-fledged music subscription service offers a great music experience on smart phones and TVs. Retrieved Nov 13, 2011, from Laptop- The Pulse of Mobile Tech: http://www.laptopmag.com/review/software/mog.aspx

In his in depth review, Mike Kobrin writes about blog turned music streamer, social media outlet MOG. Kobrin discusses MOG's features - like an on demand, auto updating search field, the MOG Mobius (JUST oneartist, artist plus a few, or mostly similar artists). MOG gets praised for in-house editorial content, as well as pushing users to interact more frequently than on other similar services.





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Digital Music & Culture by Corey Harris Abramson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at templenewmedialiteracies.wikispaces.com.










Final Project Review
Luis Cruz

Focus Theme. What is the thesis statement of the website and how does the website relate to the key ideas explored in the course?
Corey finds it troubling that music streaming sites coexist with illegal downloading. His thesis is centered on the question of how this global village of the Web 2.0 has suffered from a lack of original content.
The website explores the thoughts and writings of Marshall McLuhan, whose works were often discussed in class. Corey also introduces scholar James Paul Gee in his writings and makes a connection with acquisition and learning.
Warm feedback. What are the strengths of the web project? What ideas and information are most important and memorable? How has the author established credibility? What are the most effective messages, content and design features?
Corey uses a great deal of outside evidence to support his thoughts and reasoning. Corey used a variety of texts, from the New York Times to printed works like Gutenberg Galaxy. Corey’s use of academic sources helps establish his credibility as an author.
One of the most effective design features that Corey uses is his table of content. His table of contents organizes all of the websites major headlines and discussion so that they can be accessed at the click of a button. Corey also seems to have carefully selected two images to include in his project. The relation between those images and his works are clearly explained.
I find that Corey’s most effective message lies in the beginning of his website. Corey sets a clear introduction, which allows visitors to understand his work and motives from the start.
Cool feedback. What are the limitations of the web project as it is constructed here? What ideas and information seem irrelevant or unrelated to the key ideas of the course? What needs to be improved?
The website was well done and the content is rich, however, I do find some limitation in how the design was constructed. I feel that the wikispace is bit long and I see it being a problem for visitors to follow. The information is clear, but because there is so much scrolling I feel that some visitors won’t reach to the conclusion. If the information was divided up into 4 or 5 pages, it would be easier on the eye. I also thought that there could have been more images used. I wanted to see more visuals so that I could connect it to the information that was being presented. I have to be honest; I don’t believe that any of the information was irrelevant to the course.