Thursday, 13 April 2017

Evaluation Question 3b

How would they be distributed as real media products?

In music industry there are three big record labels, which are known as the “Big 3”. These include: Sony BMG, Universal MusicGroup and Warner Music Group. In 2012, Universal Music purchased EMI(Electrical and Music Industries), reducing the Big Four labels to the Big Three. I have done a detailed post on EMI and music industries to decide which distributer would be suitable for my products. 

Artists who are signed to a major record label are either signed to the central label or signed to a subsidiary of the label. For instance, Capitol Records, is an American record label which operates as a division of the Capitol Music Group. The label was acquired by the British music conglomerate EMI as its North American subsidiary. However, after 2012 was acquired by Universal Music Group and merged with the company in 2013.  Its distributors include Universal Music Group and Capitol Music Group. I have done a post on how music industry works, where I have covered three conglomerates and their subsidiaries. 

Halsey is signed to Astralwerks, which is a US- based record label primarily focused in electronic and dance music. Its parent company is Universal Music Group. Therefore, its material is distributed via Capitol Music Group inside the US and Universal Music Distribution outside the US.

Astralwerks parent company used to be EMI starting from 1992-2013 when the Capitol Records was merged with Universal Music Group. Since EMI didn’t lose its name but just became Universal subsidiary, Halsey is signed to Astralwerks which goes under Capitol which is under Virgin EMI.

Since Web 2.0 content became easy to produce and distribution became open, limitless. Consumers became producers and audience shifted from passive to active. It became easier for the independent artist to share their own work using websites such as YouTube and SoundCloud. However, all these companies are owned by one of the bigger conglomerates. For example, Vevo which is an online premium music and entertainment service.  

Universal Music Group is vertically integrated which means they sign the artist to their record company. They then produce their music and distribute it using many different mediums, which includes Vevo. Using online services such as  those allowed record labels reach wider audience. This is due to digitization which enables companies to access a variety of global market places, has improved the company’s ability to incorporate customer’s feedback for product improvement. During my production process, after every rough cut I had I was able to get audience feedback and work on it, I was able to post on twitter, Instagram to let the people all over the work comment and share their opinion.

One way which my products could be distributed as a real media product would be through music streaming services such as iTunes and Spotify. After researching Halsey’s website, I found that she placed links to variety of social media accounts. These include; iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and YouTube. In my website I have also added a link to her actual iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud. However, I have kept the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in order to connect with my audience.

One of the problems companies are facing right now due to the digitisation is the loss in profit for physical media. As more and more people started using digipak copy of the song. It is easier for the customers now to buy the album online without any transportation costs or waste of time. They don’t have to wait for the CD to arrive or to go to the shop to buy it as they could do that online within minutes. This is still profitable and the record still gets the revenue. However, when streaming services come up with the idea of streaming music fir free for a month like iTunes did, artists may be disrupted from their online profits. For example, when Taylor Swift released her new album iTunes came up with the idea of streaming music for free for a moth, which caused Taylor lose a lot of revenue. There are over issues with digital music. Piracy is a major issue as it involves millions of songs leaking online to the audience for free and avoiding the payment for the record labels and the artist. iTunes had much bigger market share however, recently iTunes profit fell twice as not many people buy music from there but they rather use illegal websites to download their favourite music for free.

One of the simple reasons why people don’t tend to buy CDs anymore is because they are no more everyday use. This lead to a lot of music shops close down. According to Guardians article, his Master's Voice sales fell as decline in physical media continued, when lead it to renew and go into the video game market . Our technology integrated, this means that we don’t carry CD player and Walkman with us anymore instead it all converged into one piece of technology where everything is digital. Now CDs can only be played on certain laptop models and computers as well as big CD players. This is one of the reasons why physical media is losing its popularity, it’s just not practical anymore.

However, during those past few 5 years vinyl’s gained a massive popularity which causes vinyl’s comeback. Sales of vinyl records reached a 25 year high in 2016 when more than 3.2m LPs were sold. After researching on merchandise for my website I came across many artists who sold vinyl’s.  Most of the ones who sold them were signed to one of the conglomerates subsidiary record labels rather than indie. This is because it is expensive to produce vinyl. 

One of the reasons why vinyl’s have gained a massive popularity over the past years is because of nostalgia. However, looking at the recent artists whose target audience would be young adults/teenagers who would have not even lived at the era of vinyl’s, producing and selling vinyl would’ve been stage. However, because of their odd and beautiful designs as well as some huge promotions on social media such as Instagram. Young audience come back and think that vinyl is a cool object to collect rather than to listen to.  Therefore, each artist produces colourful and with lots or patterns, in order to attract younger audience. After doing a survey on this around school and town I found out that people who have vinyl don’t listen to it that often but they rather just collect it. However, what really surprised me is that some people has vinyl’s without even having a record player.

There are many starting artists who have not yet signed to any record but still as well known. This is due to the online which allows the consumers become producers. Now anyone could be a producer. By simply using YouTube to share your music and Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as it way of advertising your work. Existence of Web 2.0 has made us question whether artists still need a record deal? However, I think that all those streaming are a great starter but of r artists who would want to be worldwide famous wold still need to sign a contract with record labels. They will allow the streaming go sufficiently. They will allows a better advertisement of music. For example billboards to advertise a new album like Halsey's.  
She has not only used a billboard she also published it on her Instagram which now can be viewed worldwide. The label is also able to provide tours, merchandise and adverts on other online such as YouTubes. For example when Ed Sheehan's new music video "Shape of You"came out, YouTube advertised it on sponsored videos of each YouTube user who was willing to gain profit out of their channel.

During my production I tried to interact with my audience as much as I could through my social media accounts. I have informed them of a new merchandise arriving to the website, competitions which were coming out, tour dates, behind the scenes clips, special offers and informing them about my three products processes. I have also created a #  called #HalseyLyrics for my lyric video.

 Recently social media interactions became more and more important. This allows the artists to communicate with the audience and see what they are up to no matter where in the world they are. Social media now played a big role almost as big as the music itself. Thought social media audience could find what the yard looking for within seconds. As you may see on the left I have added example of the times when I have tried to communicate with the audience and inform them of coming up everts. These include Competitions notices and winners, tour dates, new merchandise available and information about my music video being uploaded on the website and YouTube with the link attached to that post.

I have notices that Halsey updates for fans of coming up changes in her music. These include twitter posts of her album cover informing of the new music video coming out, or merchandise or release dates in the country, etc. This became very useful for the fans and of the artists as she would now reach wider audience via social media.

Although digitalisation allowed all of this to happen, allowed starting artists to start off without depending on any labels. This is a factor which has placed a question in need of music industries. Now fans could listen to their favourite artist live from their phones, the could also listen to their music through apps such as SoundCloud and Spotify. They could also buy artists merchandise through online shops such as eBay and Amazon. In my production I have created a website and merchandise page where the fans could get official merch from the website. In order to inform my audience of new merchandise, music videos and music I have added a pop-up subscription box on the first page of the website, when the fan enters the page they would automatically get a subscription box suggested. This was used in many artists websites such as 1975 website where they had pop up page. I have analysed this website in further detain on my blog. 

In conclusion, I would say that my products would be distributed the same way Halsey's, through Astralwerks which is a subsidiary of one of the "Big Three" conglomerates Universal Music Group which perviously in 2012 was owned by EMI. 

Astralwerks would be a good choice for my products because they specialise in electronic and dance music which means that they would have professionals from different departments which will allow my products to target the wider range of audience. 

On the other hand, looking at the fact that I am student and have not worked in this sphere long enough it would make more sense if I have started with the streaming services such as YouTube.

Interview Script: 

How would they be distributed as real media products?

Interviewer: Hi so nice to see you here

Producer: Thank you! I’m glad to be here.

Interviewer: So as a producer of Halsey’s new music video, digipak and website, what can you tell us about the distribution of all these three products?

Producer: Well, in music industry there are three big record labels, which are known as the “Big 3”. These include three conglomerates Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. At the moment Halsey is signed to Astralwerks which is specialised in electro and dance music. Is is a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. There are two music groups which distribute Halsey’s products.

Interviewer: Why two? And what are they?

Producer: The first one is Capitol Music Group which is also a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, it distributes inside the US and there is Universal Distribution which is onside of US.

Interviewer: Alright, as you said before Halsey is signed to Astralwerks, do you think there is a need in a record label for Halsey? Considering that web 2.0 became a huge source of UGC?

Producer: You are right. Convergence, digitalisation allowed audience to become active. As Brigid Cherry points that fans are no longer content with just the official, commercial releases. They extend these through their own creations, UGC. What I want to say is that there are many artists who became well known of the streaming services. This allows me to agree with Dan Gillmore’s point where he says audience is now the producer.

The point which he pointed out in “the former audience” is that the notion of a passive audience is gone. I do agree with is argument, as now due to the convergence, audience could film their music videos using simple devises such as smart phones which include a very good quality of a video and audio.  However, from the distributors point of view. I think that being an individual artist would be difficult for Halsey. Being signed to the record label allows her to share her albums on local as well as international retailers. This means that people all over the world would be able to purchase them in the market.

Interviewer: You have mentioned streaming services; can you please tell us how you have used it in your project?

Producer: Well, for my artist we have used YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, in order to inform my audience of upcoming events. I have used YouTube to share my music video. At the beginning I have mentioned the “Big Three”. If we look closely to the streaming services, we can find that all of them end up being owned by one of the conglomerates. For example, VEVO, Sony Music Entertainment as well as Universal Group have a partnership with VEVO. It hosts music videos on YouTube. VEVO also has an application for a lot of devices such as Apple, GoogleTV, Android, etc. This allows them to gain much more audience to access the content. This is also an example of convergence of technology. This is according to Henry Jenkins, when old and new technology collide.

Interviewer: Thank you very much for sharing that all with us today and we hope to see you again soon.
Producer: Thank you, me too.

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