Spreadable Media Summary

15 01 2013

Hey guys, I know I haven’t blogged in quite some time now, mainly because the appeal of blogging has once again been lost on me. Not quite sure why, perhaps it is the amount of time it takes me to write even the smallest of posts, coupled with the constant thought that I would much rather be working on something else. If I was just ranting about my thoughts or even writing line after line of lyrics (never gonna happen), then I think I could be a regular blogger and maybe even learn to enjoy it, but that just isn’t the case. Anyway, on with this post…

The past post I uploaded (which was only earlier today, actually written a while ago but obviously I forgot to upload it, sucks to be me) talked about my ideas for the spreadable media project. These ideas luckily turned out to be the one’s I decided to stick with, and as such I have created and uploaded these artifacts to the barrel of laughs that is the world wide web. So, let’s take a look at them then. (Note: If you would like to know why I chose to make these particular artifacts please read my last post here.)

The first artifact I created was an audio/video mashup of the following songs: “E.T.” by Katy Perry, “Starry Eyed” by Ellie Goulding, and “The Island” by Pendulum. The mashup is appropriately named “E.T.’s Starry Island” and can be viewed here or here. The reason for there being two links is because YouTube wouldn’t let me upload the video component of the mashup due to copyright issues (and as a requirement of the assignment our videos had to be uploaded to youtube), so instead I had to upload only the audio with a picture explaining the situation and directing potential traffic to Vimeo, where they could watch the whole thing. For those that are interested, the audio component of the mashup was made using Ableton Live 8, and the video component was made using iMovie. This video was by far my most successful, netting a total of 493 views between both YouTube and Vimeo at the time of writing, however I was surprised at the difference in view count between the two sites. On YouTube this artifact got a measly 51 plays, yet on Vimeo it managed to obtain 442 plays. This is not something I was expecting, as I had always assumed YouTube to be the better of the two sites to upload my music related videos to (perhaps I was wrong?). To keep this blog reasonably short I will only show the view stats from the Vimeo link as it is the more substantial of the two, however, unfortunately Vimeo only shows weekly stats unless you are a Vimeo Plus or Pro member (which I am not), so I have chosen one week in particular to feature in this post. (Note: Click on the images to see them at full size.)

Mashup Stats

This graph shows the first week of views for this video, and as you can see, it managed to net 390 views in this first week, meaning that since then it has only received 52 plays. One day in particular stands out on this graph, and that is the 15th December, also the day that I shared the video on the /r/mashups subreddit (coincidence? methinks not). It’s first days view count is a result of me spreading the video on my Facebook and Twitter, so the views likely came from my friends and family, and any people that saw them share it on their own feeds. After this the reddit community obviously takes over in view count and for a couple of days afterwards there is a slight backwash in views up to the friday when it only receives nine. After this the amount of views it got dropped significantly despite my attempts to continue sharing the video through Facebook and Twitter, as well as cross posts on other subreddits.

My next artifact was a video of me covering “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago” by Fall Out Boy, in an acoustic style (reliving my teenage years), which can be viewed here. The recording quality of this video was generally quite bad as I recorded it live through a webcam and laptop mic. Overall I suppose it wasn’t too bad, but it definitely could have been done better. At the time of writing this video has received a total of 151 views (not much at all), despite attempts to share through Facebook and Twitter, as well as sharing on the /r/coversongs subreddit.

FOB Stats

As you can see from the statistics graph, the rate of views seems to have increased at a reasonably constant rate, without any major peaks or drops. Reddit did seem to help me obtain a fair few views, but not as much as Facebook, which is interesting as this is something that I would not have expected.

My final artifact was another video of me covering a song in an acoustic style, however this time the song I covered was “All I Want” by A Day To Remember. My video can be viewed here. At the time of writing this video has the least amount of views out of all three of my artifacts. This is odd to me as the recording quality is better than the other cover I did, still played live but using my acoustic guitar pickup and a Shure SM58 to record the audio instead of my laptop mic. Also as far as the cover itself goes, it is more varied from the original than my other cover, and is also more technically difficult. Yet this video only managed to obtain 76 views at the time of writing. Again this video was shared through Facebook and Twitter and was also shared Reddit, however this time I decided to share it to the /r/ICoveredASong subreddit, perhaps it was this that was my downfall?

ADTR Stats

This graph shows a reasonably constant rate of views with no major peaks or drops, much like the other cover I did, however one major difference can be observed. The number of views from Reddit on this video is one, yes, just one view. Looking at the post on Reddit I can see that it has been downvoted once and upvoted zero times, which means that I can assume one person looked at the video on Reddit, decided they didn’t like it and downvoted it, as such the video probably became buried in it’s early stages with no real means of getting it’s way back up to the top and as such lost Reddit’s backing (the internet can be a harsh mistress). This could explain why this video has received fewer views than my other cover, or perhaps it could be to do with how famous the original bands are, or maybe even personal preference regarding the songs I chose to cover.

Well, I guess this post has been going on for quite a bit now (way longer than any of my others) so I guess I should wrap it up, provide a conclusion and all that. I believe that the biggest factor in how a video gains popularity is to do with where it is initially shared, in order to get the ball rolling. My highest viewed video was uploaded to a much larger subreddit than the other two (/r/mashup has 20 times more subscribers than /r/ICoveredASong, and twice as many as /r/coversongs), which would most definitely explain why it received the amount of views it did, not to mention such a huge spike in views after being shared there. It could also be something to do with the activity of the community involved, perhaps that subreddit is much more active than the other two mentioned. Ultimately it could just be down to content quality, although I find that hard to see, as I have previously stated I believe my third artifact to be of much better quality than my second, yet the second has received over twice as many views.


Mashups and Covers – My Ideas

15 01 2013

For this spreadable media assignment we have been asked to create some form of media that could potentially be spread across the internet (crazy right?). I have decided to think about doing some kind of mashup between two songs/videos in order to create a new piece of media. In preparation for this I have been looking on Reddit’s mashup subreddit, so far I have found a few mashups that have stood out to me. I’ll link them at the end of this post. I suppose the first thing I need to think about is what makes a good mashup successful. Looking at Alessandro Grespans mashup between LCD Soundsystem and Miles David I can see several attractions. The first being that the two videos work so well together, another being that there is no real editing of any kind, it is being performed live by playing two youtube videos at the same time. This is a bit different to normal mashups. I think it is this combination of simplicity and musical synchronisation that helps make this video appealing. Although it is probably more the impressive coincidence of the two videos lining up, and also that anybody can recreate it (have a go themselves) that has made it so spreadable. The other thing I’ve noticed about a mashups potential to go viral is down to song selection. A lot of the top mashups on Reddit seem to be quite gimmicky (e.g. ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel air’ theme mashed up with the ‘Star Wars’ Darth Vader theme, Biggie Smalls mashed up with the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ theme, etc). I have played around with mashups before, so already had a couple of ideas. I also wanted to think about video selection, and so had a look at few of my mashup ideas and the videos they would use. I settled on a mashup between “E.T.” by Katy Perry, “Starry Eyed” by Ellie Goulding, and “The Island” (parts 1 and 2) by Pendulum. I already knew that there would be good synergy between the audio tracks, and had also noticed that the videos could be mashed up well.

Another idea of mine for this project was to record two videos of me covering songs on the guitar. I have been playing guitar for about 12 years and have recently discovered a passion for singing too. This part of the project was a bit more of a personal venture as whilst I have always been confident playing the guitar to large numbers of people, I am particularly shy about my voice, and as such uploading videos to a platform that see’s over 800 million unique monthly users seemed very daunting to me. For this reason I wanted to keep these two videos fairly simple, so decided on covering two songs that I knew well and was confident in people hearing. These two songs were: “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago” by Fall Out Boy, and “All I Want” by A Day To Remember. The other main reason behind choosing these songs above over other covers I can play is that these two covers in particular are very different to the original songs in terms of style and genre. My thoughts were that this would be more interesting to listen to, as apposed to a cover that is being played in the exact same style as the original song, thus hopefully making the content more likely to spread.

As mentioned earlier, here are the links to some of my favourite mashups:

Youtube duet: Miles Davis improvising on LCD Soundsystem by Alessandro Grespan

The Fresh Prince of Death Star (Extended Version) by DaThings1

Biggie Smalls (Thomas the tank engine remix) by Farreltube

To Record the Sky (John Frusciante X Kanye West) by Saint Edward

A Recap On Remix Culture

19 11 2012

Our task for this week (week 7 post 2) was to look back on a previously covered topic and write a post which integrates multiple viewpoints. With this in mind I have decided to take another look at remix culture. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, as I have stated in previous posts, it was one of my favourite topics featured in this module, and secondly, after having reread my original post on remix culture, I realise that I didn’t really talk much about any of the counter arguments at all.

On a side note, I have been listening to a lot of different music whist writing these blogs, as I find music of any kind helps me think things through much better than silence. In particular, one band that has been grabbing my attention a lot (especially whilst writing about remix culture) is Gym Class Heroes. It has never really hit me before how much unoriginal material they actually use in their songs. It reminds me a lot of the sampling seen in early hip hop, and perhaps that’s the effect they’re going for, so who am I to judge? This has been making me think about the concept of a remix, and how much material needs to be borrowed in order for something to become a remix. If a band decides to resample a bass line from another song, but changes all the other parts, is this then considered a remix? For me, a remix would be the complete reworking/renewal of an overall idea, not necessarily just the borrowing of one part. If I was remixing a track officially, and had been given the original stems, I know that I wouldn’t only take one part for my remix, I would use as many parts as I felt necessary. I suppose in an unofficial remix, I might only have access to the vocal acapella, but still, I would more than likely use the original tracks chord pattern and potentially try to recreate key melodies/sounds myself, in order to provide a hint towards the original track.

Anyway, moving on… In preparation for this post I decided to read “You Are Not a Switch: Recreativity and the modern dismissal of geniusby Simon Reynolds. One important point that Reynolds makes in his article, something that was also quoted in Sharon‘s post on remix culture, is as follows: “It’s not the fact or the act of theft but what’s done with the stolen thing that counts: the spin added that “makes it new”…. The hallmark, or proof, of genius, in fact, is not merely transmitting or remixing. It’s fashioning something that others will someday want to steal.” I feel that this quote speaks a lot of truth, and I guess this would be an accurate representation of the way in which I would choose to look at something as being remixed. Without that something extra being added during recreation, it is not so much a remix as it is a blatant theft of ideas, and as I have previously stated, creative theft doesn’t sit well with me. Another point that is touched upon in this article and also brought about in Nabeel‘s post on the subject, is how a suggestion of recreation can be used as a means to make an achievement seem less of an achievement. If you can point out that an artists greatest work is merely a reproduction of an other piece of work, then that pretty much ruins any connotations of originality regarding said artist. This isn’t really a fair way to view creativity, as there could be a whole world of difference between the artists work and the original concept, and it’s that change that represents the artists genius.

From this I can confirm that although I believe remix culture does play a huge part in our society, I don’t necessarily agree with all of its morals and practices, in particular its way of belittling the creativity of others and almost using itself as an excuse to be lazy in regards to creativity.

My Contributions and Highlights

18 11 2012

In terms of my contributions (or lack of) to this module, I feel like I have been very behind in regards to others. I don’t really have an excuse for this, although I will say that from the start of the module I found it very hard to become interested and inspired by the subject matter. However, that being said, I didn’t really give the module a chance, and as stupid as it sounds now, whilst catching up on the set blog posts, I have really started to enjoy it. If only I had given it a chance sooner, perhaps I would have been more inspired to contribute more fully to the module. Regardless of this, there is no point in me dwelling on this now, though hindsight is a beautiful thing.

Despite my lack of contribution I do have several highlights from the module so far. The first of these is my increased use of Twitter and other social media platforms. I am finding this to be of great help when trying to expand my network and promote my music. I have learnt much more about how to utilise these platforms in order to achieve my goals and that is definitely something I am very pleased with. Another highlight for me was making my first video blog. I found this experience very strange at first, but then after I had experimented with it for a while I started to enjoy it much much more and am now considering the possibility of a weekly video blog. I know this will be useful in regards to promotion as well as social development. Last but not least, I thoroughly enjoyed researching remix culture and writing a post about it. This is a subject I have looked into a little in the past and also something quite close to my heart, as it enabled me to talk about the remixes I have done with apertje as well as those by other producers I know and love. In fact I think one of the most enjoyable things for me in this module was being tasked to watch the videos on remix culture and YouTube culture, all of which I found to be greatly inspirational. They really made me think about myself and how I use social technologies.

YouTube Culture/My First Vlog!

18 11 2012

In preparation for this post I decided to have a go at making my own vlog. I must say I found the whole experience very strange, however, I do totally see the appeal in vlogging and would definitely like to keep it up (if only I had some more interesting/funny topics to talk about). Anyway, as far as vlogs go it is pretty sub par, but I thought, what better way to talk about YouTube culture and vlogging than to actively take part in it. So here it is:

So now that you’ve seen my attempt, let me talk a little about it. I have to admit that this did take me a while to make, which may seem strange as it’s only a short video with practically no editing, and I don’t really talk about much. However, I am possibly the least confident person in existence and even this short video took a lot of guts for me to finish and upload. It definitely makes me feel a lot of respect towards the people that vlog about their issues on a regular basis, it’s definitely not easy. From this experience, I can totally understand the therapeutic values of vlogging, and how it must help others to know that there are people out there with the same problems as them, who are willing to talk about it in front of a massive audience, such as the YouTube community. This ability to express yourself so openly in front of so many people (without fear of rejection or abuse) makes said community an incredibly appealing place to be. This said, there are still people on YouTube that wish to bring others down, as there is in any community. The anonymity of YouTube enables people to say pretty much whatever they want via comments, without too much worry of the repercussions. This can make YouTube seem like quite a daunting place sometimes, however I feel that the positive comments tend to outweigh the negative ones, and luckily if a person is really that worried then they can turn commenting on their videos off, however I feel this kind of detracts from the sense of community.

I have been trying to understand why people like to upload videos to YouTube, and there seems to be a few main reasons: potential fame, acceptance within a larger community, a chance to be somebody else. One of Michael Wesch’s theories in his video (“An anthropological introduction to YouTube”) is that we live in a state of increasing individualism, independence, and commercialisation; and as such we are now longing for community, relationships, and authenticity. It is this concept that he believes shapes what we see in YouTube. I know that from my point of view, the reason I upload the videos that I do is in an attempt to help promote my music better, and YouTube is a pretty good platform for doing that. I have never really uploaded anything other than my tracks until the vlog I made for this post, and to be honest, the experience of doing so has made me want to make even more of them. So I guess I could say I have found it fulfilling, even if I didn’t really talk about anything that important. Perhaps it is this sense of fulfilment gained from actively taking part in the YouTube community that causes people to continue to post the videos that they do?

“Copy, transform, combine” (A Look At Remix Culture)

18 11 2012

Firstly I would like to start by saying that in preparation for this post I was asked to watch a series of short films entitled ‘Everything is a Remix’ by Kirby Ferguson, which you can view here. I found these films to be incredibly interesting and more than a little inspirational, and I definitely recommend you watch them if remix culture is a topic that interests you.

For me, remix culture is something that has always sparked an interest. Perhaps this interest comes from my previous studies on the subject in college and university, or maybe it’s because I spend a large amount of my time on sites such as Reddit and YouTube (well known for the spreading of edited/remixed material). Most likely though, it’s because as a producer on a mission I understand the importance of remix culture within the realm of audio. I myself have created remixes, the most recent being a remix of “Trouble” by Leona Lewis, for a Talenthouse contest (linked below for those that would like to listen).

Leona Lewis – Trouble (apertje remix)

I know other producers that have used remixes to great success, one example of this is my friend Eshi (check out his work here) who’s remix of “Crew Love” by Drake, currently has over 20,000 plays on YouTube. I know this might not sound like a huge amount, but considering he is relatively new and that his original material has less than a 1000 plays per video, I would say that this is a pretty good example of how remixes can be used to benefit smaller artists. Even big named artists such as Tiësto have used remixes as a way to gain critical acclaim, most notably his remix of “Silence” by Delerium, which helped expose him to a much more mainstream audience

In the videos mentioned previously, one of the more negative views is the supposed “ripping off” of others material by Led Zeppelin (perhaps an argument of parody vs pastiche?). I personally see their borrowing of riffs/short vocal lines to be more of an homage to their influences, rather than an intentional act of stealing. The reworking of others music and lyrics has been around for a long time and there are many famous examples of artists reworking songs in order to make them more commercially viable, such as the white musicians (e.g Pat Boone) that released sanitized versions of black musicians music during the 1950’s. In these cases though, the original artists were payed royalties, something Led Zeppelin probably should have done, seeing as the changes made to the original content were very minimal. I know if I was making money off a remix that I had made I would want to pay royalties to the original artist, not just to cover my backside, but also because I see it as a sign of respect.

Ok, so I suppose that when it comes to the remixing of audio I am pretty biased, however the videos don’t just cover audio. They also look at remix culture on a much larger scale, talking about film and technology, and even going as far as using evolution as an example of remixing. There are several quotes throughout the videos that really made me stop and think, one in particular (also mentioned in the title of this post, remix anyone?) is the repeated use of “Copy, transform, combine”, a statement that seems to sum up the very nature of existence. It can literally apply to anything, and fits in very nicely with the idea that “creation requires influence”. The video shows examples of how directors, such as George Lucas and Quentin Tarantino, have taken their influences and used them to create scenes for their own films. Again, I wouldn’t call this stealing, in my opinion this is a way of paying respect to those that came before them. In this sense I also find it hard to see remixing as a bad thing.

Overall, remix culture plays a huge part in our society and always has done. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with it, as long as people are getting credit where credit is due. This does not mean that I agree with the blatant stealing of other peoples work, however I do feel that with the amount of influence we take from others, some degree of copying is inevitable.

A Reflection On My Network

18 11 2012

My online network is split into three sections, personal (friends and family), apertje (music related), and professional development (education and career prospects).

Out of the three, I would say that I probably put the most amount of time and effort into the personal section. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as I believe that people are more likely to want to help someone that they know on a personal level, thus increasing the number of people that I can rely on to constantly re-share/spread the word about new projects/tracks I am working on/have released. This is probably not the best approach in regards to my music, and as such I suppose it might be a better idea to focus more on the apertje network, in order to build it up and thus create a bigger fan base with which I can share my newest projects/tracks. One downside to this though is inconsistency, in the sense that people will be more likely to re-share what they like and shun what they don’t like. This differs from the more consistent re-sharing brought about through my personal network, however it does offer a form of criticism that I can use to help shape future work in order to keep my fan base happy. Thinking about it like this, I can see that both of these section are important, and that they offer different benefits. However, it would probably be more beneficial for my music if I spent more time working on the apertje network as apposed to my personal network.

In regards to the third section, professional development, it is pretty safe to say I haven’t spent any time at all working on it. This is a pretty bad realisation, and is definitely something that I need to fix.

Overall, it’s hard to say that I’m happy with how I manage my network, as I probably do spend far too much time on my personal connections, and nowhere near enough time on apertje or my professional development. Hopefully this won’t be too hard of a change to make.