Parramatta Sun – Winner grateful to help

Parramatta Sun

July 19, 2012

Advertisements

The Underprivileged City

He gazes forlornly into the crowd. Surrounded, but alone. They pass him by, day after day without a glance or a smile. Talking intently on their mobile phones, seemingly cemented in their hands. A dull drone emanates from their blank faces, changing pitch, but never the song. Forever pushing forward against the strings that hold them back. They are the puppets of society. Buzzing like flies over dead meat, they never settle. Their mouths painted in lipstick. Their bodies clad in uncomfortable suits and skirts. Their feet follow the same route every day. They will not change.

Nobody falters, or pauses in their stride. Do they even know where they are going?

“Gucci”, “Dolce and Gabana” and “Chanel” are all burnt into their wallets. From them trickles a rigid evil, into their fingertips, seeping into their bloodstream. They march relentlessly to jobs they hate and to home to people they once loved. The desire, the scalding need for money, urging them on like slaves. They have lost control, they are addicted. To avoid an inescapable silence at home, they discard their time at bars. They fling their treasured money at bartenders, and foist drinks on co-workers. Silently begging for happiness, a friend, someone they can trust. Their laughs are hollow and awkward and their eyes empty. Prisoners to their jobs; policed by money.

An unsteady silence fills the city. They stagger back to the trains and buses, ashamed and disappointed. Slouching through the park, they avoid jagged glass and pointed rocks.

He lays less than a metre from the path, mistaken for a mound of rubbish. He groans and shifts, each tiny movement sending spasms of pain up his spine. Surprised, they shriek, terrified by the monster that lies near. Their nostrils sting; offended by the stale smell of fake leather. The clothes covering him, devoid from any brand labels, fill them with disgust. They sprint off into the park; the loud thumping of their heart is all they can hear.

They slow, breathing returning to its robotic rhythm. Glancing behind them, they can just make out his feeble figure. Their wallets begin to burn their leg and they become increasingly aware of its size. Their eyes lower to their scuffed leather shoes, the morning polish still shining in the street lights. They slink towards the station, their keys clinking loudly from their pockets. Shaking off dirty memories, they clutch their wallets reassuringly. Their touch cools it, as they remind themselves “I work hard. I deserve this.” Their eyes glaze over, and their minds forget.

They fall into a tattered train, another day done. Heading home to their cold couches, a cruel reminder of the choices they’ve made. The blanket of sleep falls heavily on their eyes. Sleep knows no wealth.

Motivate

The clock. It hangs in the bottom right-hand corner of my screen. I stare at it, but it stares back with menace. I stare harder, willing it to stop, but it refuses. My eyes sluggishly rise to the window in front of me. The warm glow of the sun fills my room, and the trees sway silently in the afternoon breeze. I can feel the hot stare of the clock burn into my face.

A minute passes.

I write a word. I stop and stare. I write a sentence. I stop. It stares.

Five minutes pass.

I am blank. My eyes glaze over and I stare blindly outside, daring my thoughts to wander. I sit motionless, not a single idea entering my head. My sentence seems irrelevant and daft. It is mocking me.

Thirty minutes pass.

I reach beside me for a post-it note and scribble “stop procrastinating!” in large, bold letters. I stick it over the glaring clock and immediately feel more accomplished. The constant ticking of time still drives my motivation, but in a manageable form. I reach for the blinds, shutting the sun from my desk and my eyes settle on the near-empty document.

I begin with dot points and my argument steadily appears. With structure and direction my unwritten essay falls into place like a puzzle, waiting to be completed. I power on and begin to glance at the post-it note less and less.

I am consumed. A steady stream of words begins to drip and then gush from my mind. My fingers tap melodically, as sentences and paragraphs appear on the screen. I am in a trance, engulfed by a concentration deep and undisturbed. The noise of roaring trucks and screeching brakes filter vaguely in from outside, but are not recognised. My mind buzzes with movement, leaping from thought to thought, searching for the right words.

The whir in my head slackens, and I slowly return to consciousness, breaking from my deep concentration. I add the final full-stop, satisfied with my work. Leaning back, I stretch my neck and yawn loudly. Gazing around, I return to the same dull room that I left and the outside noises seep into my brain. I tug at the blinds expecting distractions to flood in.

I’m met with darkness.

My eyes dart to my post-it note. I remove it, but the clock seems more subdued and content, watching me from afar but not governing my movements.

The Affect of Disgust

You are stumbling up the driveway after a messy night. Your feet ache and ooze with blisters, so you take off your shoes. Tiptoeing quietly, you feel an unfamiliar crunch between your toes. Immediately your whole body tenses, and your eyes widen. Your eyes drift slowly downwards. You have to look. The remnants of the snail squelch up between your toes, covering them in slimy goo. The shards of shell scatter on your feet, sharp edges threatening to pierce your soft skin. Desperately you shake your foot, but the snail’s insides cling to you. You grate your foot against a rock, but it only coats it in thick, moist dirt. You can just make out the shape of your foot. You can see the head of the snail, still intact, protruding between two toes. Its slimy head leans towards you, silently screaming in pain. Your whole body shudders violently.

The urge to vomit rises quickly. Gasping for cold air, you try to suppress it. But it cannot be calmed. It rushes up your digestive tract. Your eyes burn and you blink repeatedly, trying to fight the urge. It rises like molten lava, determined to find an escape point. The hot sludge reaches your throat and gushes into your mouth. It hits the pavement like a missile, splattering all over your bare feet. You try to stumble away, but step in it. Tiny chunks of pizza mix with the dead snail, seeping into your skin, staining it. The putrid smell fills your nostrils, each tiny hair shrieking in pain as they curl away from the stench. It is everywhere. You can taste it in the back of your throat, smell it on your clothes and see it dripping from your hair. The sound of it splattering on the pavement haunts you, it’s playing on repeat in your head and you can’t turn it off.

You rush to the hose, turning it on high. The water pelts your foot, hitting it with the force of a million tiny bullets. You wince in pain, but it’s worth it. Rinsing your mouth out, you spit chunks of meat-lover’s pizza on the pavement. Tiny slimy pieces of salami stick in your teeth as you frantically try to scratch them out with your fingernail.

You sigh with relief, and turn off the tap. Finally you rise to your feet, pushing the memory away, trying to ignore its persistence, but it lingers. You take a step.

SQUELCH!

The Music Industry and Business Models

Over 2.8 million Australians download music illegally each year (Music Rights Australia, 2012.) So why is the music industry still pursuing a decaying business model?

On August 22, 2012, The Project reported on the push for harsher laws on people who illegally download in Queensland (The Project, 2012). The Project revealed that 95% of all music downloaded in Australia is illegal. The Project interviewed Mark Pesce, an internet pioneer on the topic.

Mark Pesce: “When people steal something from the shop, it’s gone from the shop. When they take something from the interweb, they’ve made a copy of it and people see that as being different. I think we need to make business models that appreciate that difference.”

The Project: “If so many people are fine about doing this, then shouldn’t the laws of our country reflect that, rather than imposing harsh penalties?”

“We saw parliament pass laws today that make it even easier to go after people who are file sharing in this way. What we really want is a government that create laws that allow the best possible outcomes for both artists and people who want to share the works of great artists.”

With the rise of new media, it’s no longer possible for the music industry and government to continue to incriminate illegal music downloaders. Current laws see the less IT savvy, such as young children, or parents responsible for the internet connection as victims of litigation, rather than the IT savvy  responsible for mass file sharing (Doloswala, 2011.)

I propose a different business model for the music industry, aimed at Generation Y. It would embrace new media and content would be distributed over multiple platforms. This is similar to marketing of “The Matrix” (Nightingale, & Dwyer, 2007, pp 29). The communication between artists and their fans will become multi-faceted, where consumers will learn about the real personality of the artist through multiple platforms. By increasing artist interactions, “grassroots marketing” (Vellar, 2012) will be encouraged and a shared responsibility or trust is likely to be established between the artist and fans. An artist would be promoted as a brand, rather than just promoting their songs.

But if people aren’t paying for their music, how will artists make their money?

I propose 5 ways in which artists can continue to make money from music, and use new media:

  1. Immediacy and patronage

Generation Y are renowned for their thirst for instant information and communications (Venetis, 2010). Artists and record companies could embrace this by “pre-releasing” albums online for a small cost. This would be before it reaches shops, the online iTunes store, or torrent websites. Only a limited number of albums would be released, to give fans a “first in line” experience.

In 2007, Radiohead streamed their album “In Rainbows” to fans online (Devilla, 2008). Furthermore, they didn’t set a price, and allowed fans to pay a “donation” for the album – whatever they seemed fit. A year later, they released figures which proved the decision to be a success. Although more people downloaded the album than paid for it (Kreps, 2008), Warner/Chappell confirmed that “In Rainbows made more money before the album was physically released than the total sales for the previous album, Hail to the Thief” (Devilla, 2008).

  1. Personalisation and authenticity

Artists could embrace this by selling merchandise which is created through collaboration of fans and artists. This was demonstrated by Amanda Palmer (of the Dresdon Dolls) in 2009, when she raised US$19,000 in 10 hours (King, 2009). She achieved this by working with fans in the production and selling of t-shirts. This is an example of successful utilisation of free labour (Hesmondhalgh, 2010), as fans volunteer to produce commodities. Other ways artists could use this is by auctioning off autographed merchandise online.

  1. Accessibility

With new media, music is already accessible just about anywhere and anytime. Illegal downloading programs have aid this. For example, “Headphones” allows users to search for an album, and the program will immediately download it when it becomes available (Daemox, 2011). The music industry could create a legitimate app for phones with a similar functionality. Instead of paying for each album, users could pay a monthly fee for a certain amount of music downloading each month. For example, they could choose 5 albums per month, which would be downloaded immediately upon release, and accessible from mobile devices.

  1. Findability

This could be done through “hidden tracks” and “treasure hunts”. It could be employed in a number of creative ways. For example, an iPhone app where participants enter in trivia information about the artist and their music before being able to download a “hidden track”. This could be information as simple as “what is the name of the most recent album” down to trivia such as where the artist was born. It could also be done on a larger scale, where a step-by-step real life trivia hunt is created, with a certain number of the first participants to reach the end receiving concert, or “meet-and-greet” tickets. This is similar to, and would employ “grassroots marketing” (Vellar, 2012).

  1. Embodiment

Embodiment consists of concerts and festivals. This would be the main income for artists and the music industry, as I believe people will always be prepared to pay premium price to witness live performances. The above methods would help create a strong fan base, as well as promote upcoming concerts.

Bibliography

Journals

Doloswala, K. N., & Dadich, A. (2011). The accidental criminal: Using policy to curb illegal downloading. First Monday, 16(6).

Hesmondhalgh, D. (2010). User-generated content, free labour and the cultural industries. Ephemera, 10(3/4), 267-284.

Ludovic, H. (2010). The Music Industry’s New Business Model. Business and Economics. Retrieved from ProQuest Central.

Nightingale, V., & Dwyer, T. (Eds.). (2007). New media worlds: Challenges for convergence. In New media worlds: Challenges for convergence (pp. 19-36). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Vellar, A. (2012). The recording industry and grassroots marketing – from street teams to flash mobs, Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, 9(1), 95-118.

Videos

Kelly, K. (2011). “Better than free: How Value is Generated in a Free Copy World.” [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k08xsjjlNc&feature=player_embedded

The Project. (2012). Seg 6: Downloading; Top 5. [Video File]. Retrieved from http://theprojecttv.com.au/video.htm?movideo_p=39696

Lukinhasgaga (2012). The Album ‘Fame,The First Ever Black Eau De Parfum”. [Video File]. Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/FGDUFjIipgs

Websites

Daemox. (2011). Headphones: Sick Beard and Couch Potato like Application for Music! Ainer.org. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://www.ainer.org/news/headphones-sick-beard-and-couch-potato-like-application-for-music

Devilla, J. 2008. Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” Experiment was a Success. Global Nerdy. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://www.globalnerdy.com/2008/10/16/radioheads-in-rainbows-experiment-was-a-success/

Kreps, D. 2008. Radiohead Publishers Reveal “In Rainbows” Numbers. Rolling Stone Music. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/radiohead-publishers-reveal-in-rainbows-numbers-20081015

Music Rights Australia. 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from http://www.musicrights.com.au/home/