Convergance Culture And Trends Of Music Sharing Online

Convergance Culture And Trends Of Music Sharing Online

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Using an illustrative case study from the Web (site, application, event, etc.), analyze and discuss the significance of what Henry Jenkins calls ‘convergence culture’. Make specific reference to two or three of the major areas of tension he identifies as shaping the contemporary media environment.
Significant innovations have occurred across the business or intermediate services sectors and the domestic or consumer service sectors, across the fields of entertainment, communication, and information sharing and the website that I am using for my case study is one of them. Imeem.com is a unique file sharing social networking site where individuals pool their time, experience, wisdom, resources, and creativity to form new information, knowledge, and cultural goods. Drawing from Henry Jenkins work I will focus on how the website is redesigning the digital economy, renegotiating relations between producers and consumers and reengaging the citizens.
In 2007 the four largest record companies in the world Universal, Warner Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI, signing a deal with Imeem allowing the domain to feature content of the artists signed by the record companies legally. Meaning that, Imeem was now the first website whose users had the music industry's blessing, to share music for free in return for a cut of advertising revenues from the website.
It seemed that both Imeem and the music industry had learnt immensely from the Napster incident.
Imeem was founded by Dalton Calwell (ex-VA Linux) and Jan Jannink (formerly of Napster) and many of the core engineers came from the original Napster file sharing service. It maybe for this reason that their is a significant difference between Napster and Imeem. Which is while Imeem only allows you to upload and play music on its website, Napster allowed its users to download songs onto their hard drive.
For the music industry all that the Napster incident accomplished was to drive file-sharing underground where the recording industry couldn't get a cut of the profits. Had they approached Napster in 2000 the way they approached Imeem, they could have been collecting ad revenue from every file-sharing transaction over the last eight years. Instead, they wasted a lot of money on lawsuits, angered a lot of their customers, and ultimately had to concede that music sharing might be OK as long as they get a cut.
For fairly obvious reasons, we usually think of such networks, which began with Napster, as a “problem”.

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This is because such networks were initially overwhelmingly used to perform an act that, by the analysis of almost any legal scholar, was copyright infringement. And although Imeem does not allow it users to download music for free, it does go against the fundamental principle of a record labels' business strategy that sharing music without paying for it is stealing. But since the successful collaboration of 2007 the rigid music industry is letting go of old ideas and is converging in order to produce new paradigms for both the industry and the consumer. This has not only aided in redesigning the digital economy but it has also helped renegotiate relations between producers and consumers. Imeem's CEO, Dalton Caldwell, has argued that the record industry needs to let go of the notion that music should be the main revenue driver and instead focus on an advertising-based model like radio and television do. Although it might seem naïve but free services such as Imeem based on the advertising model offer a glimpse of a radical future in which one may not need to purchase music anymore, with the product being supplied for free and legally online.
Now, I concede that the vision of the future I’ve suggested maybe too radical to actually come true but there is another, more likely possibility that can occur which is the lowering of costs of the final product. This can be possible because it is in principle possible to bypass publishers, packagers, and programmers, and to make content directly available across networks on the Internet. New technologies of media content distribution arising from digitization, convergence, and networking can eliminate the gatekeeper role played by distributors and other intermediaries, allowing for a more direct commercial relationship between the content creators and their audiences/ consumers.
Like any distributed computing projects such as peer-to-peer file sharing networks, Imeem is an excellent example of a highly efficient system for storing and accessing data in a computer network. In addition, the site offers a platform for simple connectedness and mutual companionship, by offering the user forums to discuss various issues and by allowing the user to form groups. The broader point to take from looking at Imeem or any other peer-to-peer file sharing network, however, is the sheer effectiveness of large scale collaboration among individuals. By cooperating in these sharing practices, users construct together systems with capabilities far exceeding those that they could have developed by themselves, as well as the capabilities that even the best financed corporations could provide. The network components owned by any single music delivery service cannot match the collective storage and retrieval capabilities of a universe of users, hard drives and network connections. Domains like Imeem provide important lessons about the extent to which large-scale collaboration among strangers or loosely affiliated users can provide effective access to a broad range of materials which otherwise would be hard if not next to impossible. This is an example of how the citizens are engaging themselves in the new era of convergence. Imeem only offers a glimpse of what like minded users can achieve on a network by working together. One can only imagine what other individuals might achieve once forums that link individuals with more useful interests are formed.
But one important question that comes to mind is what would motivate individuals to participate in such projects. Incase of Imeem the project appears to be eclectic in its implicit social and psychological theories of the motivations for participation by its users in the project. The founders seem to assume some degree of taste for generalized altruism and the pursuit of meaning in contributing to a common goal. It is possible that the site is actually shooting the dark, as far as motivating sharing is concerned. It is also possible, however, that they have tapped into a valuable insight, which is that people behave sociably and generously for all sorts of different reasons to participate. Such networks of sharing are much less “mysterious”, in terms of understanding the human motivation behind participation. There seems to be nothing mysterious about why users participate on Imeem. They want music; they can get to listen to it for free; so they participate.
As for the ones that contribute, the site seems to assume a healthy dose of what is known in anthropology of gift literature as agonistic giving- that is, giving intended to show that the person giving is greater than or more important than others who give less or do not give at all. By implementing a variety of mechanism to reinforce the sense of purpose, most of the distributed computing projects provide a series of utilities and statistics intended to allow contributor to attach meaning to their contributions in a variety of ways. Imeem allows individuals to track their own contributions, and provide user rankings, and other popularity indicators for songs, playlists, pictures, and videos.
Popular music has been at the cutting edge of issues surrounding media distribution, power, and control in the age of digital media. A perennial question that surrounds the digital media and creative industries is why there are so many intermediaries between the creative artists and their audiences. Websites such as Imeem resulting from industry convergence offer a glimpse at a more basic and radical answer to this problem. It suggests that the networked environment makes possible a new modality of organizing production: radically decentralized, collaborative, and nonproprietary based on sharing resources and outputs among widely distributed, loosely connected individuals who cooperate with each other without relying on either market signals or managerial commands. The success ultimately depends on many individuals contributing to a common project, with a variety of motivations, and sharing their respective contributions without any single person or entity arresting rights to exclude either from contributed components or from the resulting whole.
Bibliography

imeem, Consulted 18 April 2008, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imeem

Flew, Terry, New Media: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, Australia, 2002.
Rob Kelley, Making music free (and legal), updated December 10 2007, consulted 18 April 2008, http://money.cnn.com/2007/12/10/technology/imeem/
Tim Lee, Labels Concede That File-Sharing Isn't So Bad After All, consulted 18 April 2008, http://techdirt.com/articles/20071210/125633.shtml
Yochai Benkler, ‘Peer Production and Sharing’, in The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
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