On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Much better, the Economist!

In cultural industries, marketing, media ecology on December 6, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Last week’s Economist featured one of the best articles on the new media landscape in a good while. Backed by solid statistics, for once, this article observed a tendency that I and many others have suspected for a long while now: Digitization benefits niche content and blockbusters, rather than the middle category of “near-hits” or “mid-list” titles. What is booming in an Internet-driven marketplace are the two extreme ends of “the long tail”, not the middle bit.
There has been an established term for this floating around on the Net for a while, actually. “The Death Valley problem” refers to how big actors are flourishing and small actors are flourishing while the ones in-between struggle:

Big companies have marketing muscle. They survive by bending the world to their will. Small companies are nimble. They survive by adapting to the world’s dynamism. In between we see a “Death Valley” filled with mid-size companies too small to bend the world, too big to adapt to it.

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Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark

In art, cultural industries, everyday life, marketing, media ecology, music on October 28, 2009 at 4:53 pm

If you are a fantastic cultural producer, what good is it if no-one hears, sees or gets to know about your work? The problem of structural support to the cultural industries is as much to do with supporting new forms of distribution and recommendation systems as it is to do with direct economic support to producers, or leveraging employment rules and state subsidies in useful ways, or due appreciation also to distinctly amateur forms of production.

That last note, about the importance of appreciating amateur forms of production, is essentially there as an inital reservation: Of course I’m in favour of an amateur-led wave of cultural production, better enabled by digital technology. Who isn’t? And of course it is great that tools and knowledge are more horizontally distributed now, favouring bazaar-like modes of organization over cathedral-like ones.

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The Pirate Bay: Two important speculations

In file-sharing, marketing, media ecology, p2p, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on July 1, 2009 at 9:51 am

Following the announcement that The Pirate Bay will be sold to a Swedish software company, there has been a lot of turmoil and dissent in online communities.

With his typical, holier-than-thou, straight faced idealism, the Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde says in his Twitter feed: ‘People hate me now for wanting to pause the 6 year free work we’ve been doing. Feels unfair.’

Why? Because the move to sell the website appears to be part of a greater manoeuvre, that the men behind The Pirate Bay have hinted about in various forms over the last year. Although a situation like this can give rise to a lot of speculation, it is therefore important to note two things…

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The Pirate Bay: Commercial acquisition in a media-historic perspective

In file-sharing, history, marketing, media ecology, p2p, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on July 1, 2009 at 9:18 am

On June 30th, 2009, The Pirate Bay announced that they are to sell their trademark and website to the Swedish software company Global Gaming Factory X, with the proviso that said company can raise the 60 million SEK (€5,5 million) needed. If it is true that the purchase will come to pass, it will be a very interesting development in terms of media history.

This is a translation of my editorial published on Swedish debate site Newsmill.se.

As a PhD student writing my thesis on Swedish file-sharing, and with a general interest in digitization as a material and historical process, I instantly thought of two observations, rooted in media history:

(1) First of all, it shows that unrestricted file-sharing need not be antithetical to capitalism. In fact, it can be argued to be as much a product of capitalism as tabloid newspapers, pyramid schemes, and ring tones.

So-called “illegal” file sharing sites and services often have a latent commercial potential, right from the beginning. The Pirate Bay has for a long while been financed by advertising and merchandise sales, for example.

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Differing attitudes towards Spotify

In file-sharing, GUIs, marketing, media ecology, music, p2p on February 19, 2009 at 10:04 am

The discourses around the newly-launched music streaming service Spotify show how Internet users are split into two rather different groupings in their stance towards commercial services like this one.
Just like the American sociologist Danah Boyd has observed a quite distinct split between Facebook and MySpace users respectively, one can observe a similar difference between those embracing and lauding Spotify and those who do not.spotify

The one observation that has said most about these circulating discourses is the following article from Wired magazine. Here, the comments actually says everything about the two rather disparate attitudes we see among Internet users towards Spotify.

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What MySpace should do!

In APIs, marketing, media ecology, music on April 22, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Basically, as MySpace are slowly moving towards more open APIs, they should be more ambitious and really start making use of the potentials for aggregation in their massive user database. Especially when it comes to music…
These open APIs make possible the relatively new concept (it only opened in March this year) of MySpace widgets which let users use and create applications that plug into the infrastructure of MySpace – something which Facebook has been letting users do for ages, although not in such an open way, since MySpace after all does this under the wing of the more generally applicable and more cross-platform-friendly OpenSocial, developed by Google.
But as it occurs, these types of tapping into the vast banks of ever-shifting user data that in fact constitute these social networks are very limited. At the moment, MySpace Apps are for example unable to be added to what they call “special profiles”, such as bands/artists. Read the rest of this entry »

The video iPod: Apple restrains the consumer choice of content

In marketing on November 16, 2005 at 10:40 pm

The new video iPod is not only a lauded status symbol, but also the ultimate symbol for how there in recent years has been a reformation in the multinational media conglomerations’ strategy for getting consumers to exclusively download conventional content. With the new iPod, hardware controls the selection of media content in subtle ways, argues Jonas Andersson, media researcher at Goldsmiths College in London.

The new version of the Apple iPod is radically different from its predecessors in that it facilitates video playback. On today’s semi-legal and illegal file-sharing networks, video files are as commonplace as music files, and Apple has obviously responded to this fact in the design of this widely appraised entertainment appliance. As a result, the iPod video capacity is directly limited to two digital formats: MPEG-4 and Apple’s own, recently launched H.264. They do not support for example the DivX format which is a common one for illegally downloaded, so called “ripped” files. To watch your own holiday movies, or digitally recorded TV programs, or free, illegally downloaded films, these need to be converted into one of the two aforementioned formats – a time-consuming, complicated procedure. This can be done through Apple’s Quicktime video software, but the process does not make it less cumbersome to install, transfer and watch non-commercial material, compared to that which is offered through the proprietary iTunes online store. (See here for a fierce critique of the iTunes concept.) Read the rest of this entry »