Digital Music surpassed in downloads
Harvey’s dissection of the changes of the music industry within the digital age parallel much of the changes experienced by other forms of art and media as the internet has become more pervasive and access to media-creation technologies readily available to increasing consumer crowd. Apps for phones and tablets are probably the best example right now of media technologies that are being created and and dispursed en-masse by media-loving consumers increasingly turned designer and creator.
According to a recent New York Times, article, apps now account for the highest percentage of digital downloads, knocking digital music from the top of the charts. This is particularly interesting as it ties in on a broader level to Harvey’s quote of Benkler (2006) as saying “the hub-and-spoke structure of the 20th-century media model has given way to an Internet-supported distributed network model, which allows for many smaller clusters to take shape around particular sites, projects, ideas, and so forth (242.)” The proliferation of mobile apps speaks not only to our desire in an ever-mediated world to have immediate access to a variety of forms of entertainment (and not just music) but also to the rise in media consumer becoming media creators and flooding the market with thousands upon thousands of apps that can do everything from provide you with an entertaining game of Angry Birds to helping you catch the thief who stole your precious iPhone. Long gone are the days where our mobile entertainment is relegated to music and video games through our Walkmen and Game Boys; now, we are on the road afforded not only a significantly greater variety of music and games, but also apps to check our stock portfolios, edit videos, record our own music, create visual designs and much, much more. As Harvey said of music – but as is now becoming true of all mediated culture – “what was formerly a struggle by indie artists and labels to break out of a local market has exponentially expanded into a patchwork global network of collaborators, consumers and fans and a more potent impact on popular culture that renders terms like subculture and underground quant (242.)” Certainly, if any new technology is simultaneously allowing creators if independent media to gain exposure for their projects while rendering themselves no longer subversive through these mass mediated means, its apps.
Conversely, the article does attribute a new means of distributing music as potentially contributing to the rise of apps in downloads: subscription services that can provide users with a month of music, often for less than the cost of a single album. Clearly, the music industry is finally learning something operating in the digital age with an increasingly mobile and mediated fan-base! The article goes on to consider the long-term effects of these music subscription services on app downloads, continuing this seeming tug-of-war between digital music and apps for modern day download supremacy.
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