Music Streaming

As well as stumbling upon the article by Dr Peter Tschmuck, I also found a few more websites with information on streaming services.

This article is from Streaming Media magazine. A nice, quick little article outlining several issues within the fast adapting industry of music streaming. Some great statistics have been used in this openly bias article as well as a pretty decent business module overview. Honest and challenging, I feel this read relates to the interests of all parties involved.

A two minute read. Pretty much coincides with the article up top.

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Music Streaming

Dr Peter Tschmuck, Professor for Culture Institutions Studies, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna has published many articles in his career including several for the International Journal of Music Business Research. The calibre of this author first came apparent whilst reading over the link above. Although this is a non academic article it is still referenced and presented proffesionaly and eloquently. It is obvious the author has many years of experience and research within his subject and has kept up to date with the industry. The blog includes qualitative and quantitive information very relevant to the topic. 

Great to have a complete list of publications. I aim to find some of his work in the library. 

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Further research on George Gerbner led me to some of his other works include; VIOLENCE AND TERROR IN AND BY MEDIA  (with N. Signorelli, 1988),+1988)&source=bl&ots=_4jypJdK_3&sig=u8xLGfzcn3y2nNhtBfsjVHXHifo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tKdtUprVOIXZ0QW63IHoCg&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Violence%20and%20Terror%20in%20the%20Mass%20Media%20(with%20N.%20Signorelli%2C%201988)&f=false

An intriguing read evaluating the need for communication research. This primary article outlines the challenge of fairly evaluating various assumptions made by conflicting intellectual styles within a subject. Though interesting to read, I do believe this subject has been refined and evolved to be more eloquently described since this paper was published the year I was born. 

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Music Business, Education and Psychology

Music Business, Education and Psychology

Further to my investigation into the use of music in commercial adverting, I decided to dig a little deeper into the previously mentioned ‘Song 2′ by Blur. As read in a number of sources listed below, this track was not only used for TV ads for major car manufacturers, but also in game, tv and film soundtracks. Unfortunately I was unable to find a reliable video to demonstrate this. This may be due to legal reasons or lack of material in general.
From the descriptions of the type of media it was used in and my knowledge of the track, I believe it was such a success because of the songs impact and reputation. It is a powerful and memorable piece and fantastic for creating motifs for brand impact. The band were also hugely successful within main stream british popular culture and as previously mentioned in past posts; this song not only is able to capture audiences of an older generation and younger generation, but also listeners of a wider genre preference. This is due, I believe to the tracks very clever (but unintentional) timbre and mood. Comprised of punk/metal guitars, hip-hop fusion and rock percussion and very tongue in cheek vocals, delivered by what is fundamentally an alternative British pop/rock band. Further reading on the bands speculated comments lead me to believe this track was almost dropped as it did not fit in with their other material.

On further research into the softwares hit counter, I realised that the ratio in question was a pretty common trend for the most part. I recorded a quick test on the song counters of random artists. Some of which I know very well and some I deliberately have no bias to. Out of 20 artist homepages I visited, roughly 80% of them had the top rated track on around 2-3 as many plays as the next song down. There may be any number of reasons why this is the case; including, that the top rated track typically plays by default on selecting an artist and it will work its way down the list until instructed otherwise. As an educated guesstimate I would say that generally people who do not use the shuffle function will listen to anywhere between 1-10 tracks. If that were true then the top ranked tracks will increase their counter by an increasing amount to those at the bottom. This is of course inconclusive and a very general hypothesis. Lastly I discovered that there must be other criteria for track popularity. This was brought to my attention on discovering that some artists had higher ranked tracks with a lower a number of hit rates to the songs ranked above them. This lead me to believe there must be a calendar or time frame criteria within the formula.

Being a keen reader on phycology and music therapy, I continued to look for academic articles on music and advertising.

Fairly subjective and for the most part written for other purposes. I am beginning to understand my mentors advice on overcoming a lack of academic material in my field. I am not concerned, this means there is much to be accomplished. I do also feel that most subjects and fields will relate to each other in one way or another, there are patterns and trends crossing over all industry.

How TV Commercials Control Kids’ by Roy F. Fox.
This publication was a very interesting read. Although written in the mid 90′s and unfortunately unavailable in its entirety, it did offer me with some socialistic and bureaucratic basic biases, which I enjoyed to read. Further into the article I found some very general quantitive figures relating to economical market share and growth, it also contained direct feedback from numerous parties surrounding the educational sector.

A section of particular interest stated ‘Instead of athletes endorsing the products, many kids saw the product as endorsing the athletes- the opposite of testimonial advertising, whereby famous people recommend products’. This statement was not one I was unaware of, but it still highlighted several noteworthy points. Advertising in my personal opinion, is pretty immoral, for the most part it uses phycological cues to increase brand awareness and ultimately increase profit. Most adverts are targeted towards a specific demographic that are more susceptible to main stream media. Children are the most impressionable and as this paper speculates, they do not fully understand the purpose of the media presented to them. For the most part they just decide whether they like the people in the advert or not, and then that attitude will transpose across the presentation as a whole. To continue the athlete example; if the recipient has a good feeling towards the athlete, they will associate the music, colour theme, text style, clothes and any other aspects of the commercial with the same response. If they do not like the athlete, they will tend to dislike the other aspects via association. As a composer and producer reading into his industry it is definitely worth noting this type of research. This information is a great basis for analysing current and past trends in the commercial use of music, not only advertising, but also in games, film, tv and other media.

The extract photographed at the header of this post got me thinking about the development of the music industry and the education sector, coinciding with technological advancements, economy and availability. Although this extract refers predominantly to the use of advertisements in circulation within American school classrooms in the 90”s, it outlines many well known facets and opinions. As a mentor and tutor it is a great summary, incorporating capitalism, global scale and words of encouragement for educating our successors.

I believe there is potential in pursuing possible leads relating to George Gerbner.

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Streaming services, musical therapy and production.

Streaming services, musical therapy and production.

Wednesday 9.10.13
Whilst attending our Wednesday morning Research and Enquiry seminar with Dr Marius Carboni, we were given the task of comprising a business analysis of online streaming service Spotify. As a group we discussed how to best approach this task. One of the challenge we would have to overcome was finding academic material on such a niche subject. As I regular user of this service and aspiring producer I thought this was a great opportunity to gather valuable information how it works from a business perspective.

Friday Evening 11.10.13.
Friday evening was fantastic. I spent a few hours in the evening preparing a lovely roast as well as uploading audio, video and photo files to my mac whilst listening to Spotify. Geared toward my project in producing, engineering and composing my own full studio and live album, I decided to stream a number of ska reggae influences and have a thorough listen and analyse the dynamics, timbre, texture, mix, EQ, compression and numerous other aspects as a music technologist and enthusiast. Ultimately what I was looking for was what I liked and what I did not. Then to theorise why I liked what I did, and why I did not like what I did not. . . It sounds simple in practice but for the most part; especially with either the unavailability of studio documentation or pure lack of it, the understanding such things need to be related back to similar examples which are documented, or back to my own experiences and knowledge of the technology age it was derived. It was also great to overview the progression of technological advancements through a creatively increasing progression. The era of which I am thinking of in particular is the mid 60′s until now, how ever for the purpose of this I am sticky fairly closely to this particular genre.

It was upon opening of Blur’s Spotify homepage where I found something very interesting. As photographed you can see that their most played track totalled in at three times more plays than their next most popular song. I believe this has a lot to do with the tracks commercial advertising use over the years.
This led my to search for academic writing on both streaming services and music in advertising. There were some interesting leads but nothing that was tailored towards the analytical viewpoint I was coming from. I read through a paper on “Understanding User Behaviour” in Spotify. This merely outlined user software interactions and analysed the data in a quantitive way, illustrating the times and durations of use.
I also read an article published on the website of the Association for Consumer Research. This piece analysed the mood and emotional responses of listeners from a music therapists point of view. Though engaged at specifically advertising it was great to generalise and relate the analysis to music and sound effects of all descriptions.Comprised of a very deep phycological analysis of responses from all senses, however, mainly visual and auditory cues. Whilst breaking these down it did not seem to mention that we each perceive these cues differently depending on our own visual and auditory experiences.

While on a basic level it is good to know that a musically minor tone will create a mood of sadness, where as, a major one will influence your empathy in a positive manor, I believe that on responding to a timbre/ sound that relates to a positive or negative emotional time in adolescence has more impact upon listening. For example my parents listened to rock and roll and music guided around a typical band setup, on listening to music of that timbre and sound it immediately makes me think of that time in my life. Someone who may have spent their early childhood listening to classical or jazz music would similarly be taken to back to that time in their life more likely upon listening to classical or jazz instead to rock or roll.

This is all very relevant in terms of doing your market research when producing any advertisement and fully understanding your targeted audience. In many instances the targeted demographic will incorporate numerous backgrounds. Over the years we have seen more advertising using a fusion of styles in both auditory and visual aspects. A great example of an artist who incorporates a fusion of melodic content in the form of classical, jazz and funk with rhythmic influence in dance, hip hop, drum and bass and dub is Bonobo. His music has been used commercially in TV programs, (both fictional and nonfictional), Films and adverts including one for the ‘Citroen Picasso’. I believe his success in this sense is partly due to a very tasteful selection and fusion of what might be described as a more contemporary and mature musical content, with a very up to date, relevant and youthful sound. Listeners from numerous musical background experiences can listen both passively, and actively to his music and will be feeding off numerous neurological cues and memories.

Digressing slightly, but I have met Simon Green (Bonobo) and seen him perform a number times. From a musical technologist perspective his arrangement and production values are inspirational.

Recommended listening references:
Studio Recording relevant genre: Madness, The Specials, The Jam, The Beatles, The Who, Blur, The Skints, Sublime, Bob Marley and The Wailers, The Ordinary Boys, Paul Weller, The Police.
Non Relevant genre: Stac, Massive Attack, Machinedrum
I find you can overkill deep analysis in a particular style, I find taking a break out of your particular style often lets you reset your hearing and have a more all rounded view when going back into the task in question.
Advertising musical references:

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Studio test

This is a VERY rough demo recorded at University of Hertfordshires recording studio 1. The Drums were recorded 8.10.13 in one take during our lecture with Lee Richardson. The vocals and acoustic guitar were recorded the next day, again in one take, in an exercise I constructed to, not only got us used to the studios facilities and equipment, but also to test suitability for mics for recording my vocals and guitar.

I used a Shure SM57, AKG C414, and U87 placed closer to the voice than guitar. The actual track is of course a full band and electric guitars but there will be elements of acoustic recording within my final project. Next time I will record the acoustic guitar with closer cardioid mics to capture a richer, fuller breadth texture. This will allow me to capture more clarity and tone of some of the more intricate phrases. As demonstrated in the video I also managed to spend a short amount of time experimenting with the mixing desk EQ and the compression and reverb units.

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Shabby Tinkerz Drum Rehearsal 5.10.13

Please click on the link above to gain access to youtube channel and additional videos.

Fusing together a similar style and timbre to the proposed full studio recording, it is good to analyse creative and stylistic techniques. From a recording perspective it is worth a note that recording drums of this type will need sharp clarity. High quality SM57s and A414′s would probably best suit capturing the array of high/mid to high frequencies coming from the intricate snare and cymbal rhythms.

I found the shure website very informative in both technical specification and in creative practice. With peer reviews from an array of artists and producers. I found the article on Dave Weckl- Drummer and Producer, particularly fascinating. Successful in his practices in studio and live performing and sound production I can definitely learn a lot from his online presence. However I feel from a personal creative perspective that the final production value is geared toward drums alone and does not incorporate other instrumentation and dynamic mood. Stating the obvious I know, but I am trying to critique.

Google scholar search also churned up a good amount of material on Shure SM57 mics. Very highly rated all round Cardioid dynamic microphone.

Shure official websites own hover over description of Cardio Dynamic Microphone-

‘Picks up most sound in front of the microphone and some from the sides. It is less susceptible to feedback in high volume environments.’

For recording high impact drums, sharp cymbals, loud guitar amps you cant beat it for the price so it seems. The cardioid design means you can target a very specific source in a room with a lot of loud frequencies going on. The mic only takes in signal from the front gaining a very clear unspilled signal. As this sound on sound article by Mike Senior explains in the context of recording a ‘Keith Moon’ Drummer.

‘If the mics you’re using in your spaced pair are cardioid, then you can probably also help things a bit by angling the mics away from the cymbals and towards the drums, again to take advantage of the dulling of off-axis sounds.’,,


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A Fresh Perspective


As well as including a few of the articles I have read guided to my research in Audio Engineering, I also aim to use this blog to track my professional development in creating an online presence demonstrating my skills as a current Music Technologist and Composer. I aim to incorporate as many facets within the field to better my understanding of my place in the music industry. As a tutor and mentor I also would like to see the progression within the educational sector and ultimately, look to further subject change.


At the same time I am considering the options I have for my final project. At this stage I am thinking of several ideas. The one of which I am currently in favour is the production of a studio and live album for my Ska/Reggae band, in which I have been composing and rehearsing the material of since December 2012. For the purposes of my MSc, this will mainly entail research into Drum, Guitar, Bass, Vocal and Keyboard techniques in recording, mixing, and mastering, both pre and post production.


Another idea is to produce the soundtrack to a short video piece. This will involve creating a library of sources covering both sound effects and musical content. This aspect would include more electronic music production and the recording of natural and unnatural sounds, creating sync points and various motifs. This would be a great exercise in utilising the benefits of having access to a recording studio with full surround sound mixing capabilities. 

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