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The Value Is In The Relationship, Not The MP3 File | Techdirt

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The invention of sound recordings, for example the phonograph, created the music industry, as we know it. The response of the music industry over time to new technologies supports the notion that technologies reinforce, rather than radically alter, existing systems of information creation and distribution.

The Gramophone and the First Steps of the Music Industry Thomas Edison's phonograph - or 'talking machine' - was simply a new device for the office that could provide assistance with stenography, teaching elocution, and other mundane chores. Edison used musicians and singers in public demonstrations, but never envisioned an industry based solely on music.

He always claimed that his phonograph was just "a mere toy, which had no commercial value" [ 19 ]. It was the gramophone, not the phonograph, that brought the music industry into existence.

Invented by Emile Berliner, he immediately realised the possibilities for a new niche. Berliner's company - the Talking Machine Company - in became a leading force in the music business in the United States and a threat to the traditional entertainment business. As Martin explains, "the threat that this [recording industry] posed was soon apparent to piano-makers and retailers, music teachers, sheet music publishers, music hall and vaudeville artists, proprietors and so on" [ 21 ].

Berliner's business plan was based on growth in two areas. First, on the practical side, the basic technology had to evolve to be easy to use and inexpensive to the consumer and profitable to the Company.

Second, new musicians and music had to be discovered, and demand for that music had to be generated to sell gramophones and related technologies. Emile Berliner managed to succeed in both. Berliner hired Fred Gaisberg to find new talent and make them more widely known through the recording medium [ 22 ].

Consequently, Berliner's plans paid off, and soon the music industry expanded, since many others followed his strategy. From this point and afterwards, the recording industry has continued 'using' recording directors and talent scouts like Berliner did when he hired Fred Gaisberg to promote its business and has also started producing both the music hardware in this case the phonograph and the software the gramophone records.

Until the new directions that Berliner created, the record-making activities were just an aspect of their marketing of record players and not a separate commodity. It is interesting to note that since its very beginning the main source of income for the recording industry was derived from popular music rather than classical music.

As Garofalo claims, "the record companies were slow to learn the cultural lesson that while the European classics brought prestige to their labels, the steady income - indeed, the future of the recording industry - was tied more to popular appetites" [ 23 ]. One could argue that, like every other successful business, the music industry had to follow and at the same time reinforce the public's tastes. However, a new for the time technological development - radio - would prevent this market from expanding and it would force the recording industry into its first decline.

In the same way that recording techniques threatened the entertainment business of the nineteenth century, they were themselves challenged by the development of radio and its consequences.

The 'Magic' of Radio The early years The historical development of radio is of great importance in modern history. Beginning in the last decade of the nineteenth century, as "one of those developments that clearly resulted from an international process of shared knowledge" [ 24 ], radio became one of the most important ways for national and international information and communication.

Radio's connection to politics and governmental decisions was very strong - even in the U. Radio was very important politically from its very beginning, and until the growth of television as a popular medium, it had probably the most dominant position in modern society. Although the first years after the First World War were characterised by a steady growth of the music industry, the late years of the s and the early s brought a decline.

The main reasons were the economic crash of and the development of radio. On the one hand, the economic crisis had a deep impact on consumer's attitudes, especially a new product. Radio made music reproduction available in homes at a much lower cost so as a consequence radios replaced record players. People could listen to music in their private spaces without having to purchase it.

At this point the consuming custom of 'possessing music' - owning a recording - was 'immature' so the market declined. Radio was also not yet tied to the kinds of products that the music industry was marketing.

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As Simon Frith argues: There was, too, an early broadcasting emphasis on 'potted palm music' to attract relatively affluent and respectable listeners which meant that while radio did 'kill' record sales it also left pockets of taste unsatisfied. Early radio stations were not interested in black audiences, for example, and so the market for jazz and blues records became, relatively, much more significant" [ 26 ]. However, new marketing efforts were responsible for change in the music industry in the late s.

The installation of jukeboxes in thousands of bars and saloons became one of the best ways for the industry to promote and advertise its commodities and mold tastes.

The second practice was related to what was called the 'star system'. As Simon Frith writes, "companies became less concerned to exploit big stage names [film stars], and more interested in building stars from scratch, as recording stars.

They became less concerned to service an existing public taste than to create new tastes, to manipulate demand" [ 27 ]. In addition, radio and the industry tried to coordinate their efforts, with radio continuously promoting music 'stars' and their albums [ 28 ].

Changes in the copyright laws At the same time, copyright changed to prevent illegal public performances. The impressive popularity of radio and jukeboxes became another profitable source of income for the music industry, thanks to royalties for every public performance of music.

The music industry grew and became more profitable than ever as radio was becoming increasingly popular. Several new radio shows were very important commercially like Your Hit Parade on NBC, which tapped into audience responses for programming decisions. This system was very crucial for marketing decisions in the music industry. This 'well-balanced' system experienced a 'shock' with new technological developments - long-play records 33 and 45 RPMtelevision, transistor radios, and tape - that in turn promoted new cultural realities, rock and roll.

Music industry and radio: Both were developed inand changed the musical experience of their time completely. The transistor was introduced by U.

It was a 'revolutionary' machine in its time, because it could reproduce an improved quality of sound compared to older, tube-based radios and it was much smaller, required less power, and was more durable. Moreover, its cheap price made it extremely popular and as a consequence promoted music in astonishing ways [ 30 ]. Consequently, it was a matter of time before the old technology was replaced by mechanically reproduced music - because of the invention of the transistor - to create new realities for the music industry.

The invention of the gramophone made it possible for consumers to own recordings but they were still expensive and fragile. Early tape recordings were not easily marketable because they were also very expensive.

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So, when a team of scientists at CBS labs invented 'high fidelity' or 'long-playing' 33 and 45 RPM LP records, it was an incredible breakthrough, because of their lower cost, great durability, and improved sound quality [ 31 ]. The combination of the transistor and the long-playing records was the greatest achievement in the history of the musical industry, because music as a commodity could easily enter anyone's home. Thse new developments were met with great enthusiasm and the music industry experienced unprecedented expansion.

In addition, musicians were profiting from these changes, since their music was reaching ever growing audiences. The music industry was safe from any type of piracy, since there was no other way to reproduce music, except via radio [ 32 ]. But challenges were on the horizon for this profitable situation. The Music industry in danger: It was an invention that was aimed at bringing music into one of the places that consumers spent many hours - the car [ 33 ].

But the consumer was not just seeking music for private consumption; comsumers were also looking for the least expensive way to acquire a product. As Garofalo argues, the cassette technology may have enabled the transnational music industry to penetrate remote corners of the globe, but it was also responsible for the industry's two main financial headaches of the 's - piracy and home-taping [ 34 ].

Tape technology is portable and recordable, and is one of the easiest ways to duplicate, produce and distribute music. This technology emerged as a major threat to the music industry [ 35 ].

The industry responded by finding a way to profit from this technological development [ 36 ]. As Clay Shirky argues in the review of Sonic Boom: It is also about control and the resistance of some labels resistance to outsiders [ 37 ]. The development of music videos and the creation of MTV in the s cemented this attitude by the major labels.

MTV provided music with direct influence of the top recording companies and was extremely popular and profitable [ 38 ]. In addition, "MTV's dominance forced the music companies to shoulder the expense of video production and then pay MTV to air the videos" [ 39 ].

The music industry was determined to never let anything like that ever happen again to their business. Analysing the MP3 Phenomenon An Internet experience The MP3 phenomenon - as a crucial contemporary issue for the music industry - is an example of the effect of the World Wide Web on the structure of global society.

To understand and analyse the challenges of MP3, it is really important to 'place' this reality in its technological and social framework.

As a beginning it is important to place MP3 in the context of the Internet phenomenon, its political consequences and its capabilities as medium. The World Wide Web, was developed and achieved its popularity in the last decade of the twentieth century in a specific ideologically structured historical moment.

As Jon Stratton notes, the World Wide Web is an ideologically constructed 'tool' for modern economies and politics, born from an idea that the Internet provides fast - almost immediate - exchange of goods - capital, information, products - with a minimum of barriers.

Therefore, new media are more related to the circulation of goods as well as information: These new commodities are being transported through a hyperspace in which distance does not exist, and place and extension are replaced by pure movement" [ 40 ]. This new direction of modern capitalism was certainly anticipated. David Harvey, for example, imagined the qualitative transformation of modern capitalism thanks in part to global communicational systems and global markets [ 41 ].

So we can view the Internet as a modern sophisticated system - created in a strong ideological framework - that transcends national borders and accelerates cultural and economical globalisation [ 42 ].

The global response to the Internet has been remarkable. What has made this technological transformation so different from all previous technological "revolutions" is the Internet's fundamental provision of interactivity [ 43 ]. This interactivity allows for the free expression of ideas and opinions which at times are in conflict with more traditional views [ 44 ].

Hence the Internet supports open access and free communication but as a result there may be conflicts with the social and moral beliefs of some of its users.

A French citizen resident in the United Kingdom has already spent several months in prison for having commercially hosted, on a server run by an American company, pornographic images that were legal in both France and the USA but illegal in Britain" [ 45 ]. To put it another way, if copyright laws are ignored in one place in the globe by freely distributing MP3 music in a state where laws regarding piracy are not well formed or not strictly enforced, it is difficult for parties in other states to stop this sort of distribution.

In addition, the large volume of traffic on the Internet makes it exceedlingly difficult to track messages and files over time and space. Given that there are thousands of MP3 sites around the world, with a vast array of musical resources, visited by millions, there is a new social reality of individuals organising themselves - and their musical passions - by developing relationships in different MP3 communities.

MP3 communities These MP3 communities are virtual communities but what is exactly a 'virtual community'? The conceptual space in which this communication occurs is referred to as cyberspace, an environment in which face-to-face communication is impossible.

A form of virtual co-presence, however, is established as a result of individuals' electronic interactions not being restricted by traditional boundaries of time and space: This social interaction is personal yet physically distant [ 47 ]. Traditional sources of identity - like those of the 'neighbourhood', local communities, and the nation-state - are transformed into new intermediated social groups [ 48 ]. MP3 communities are like other virtual communities, with a focus on music.

Millions of sites are dedicated to specific artists or music styles, with fans from every part of the globe. The Internet provides a vehicle for music lovers with the same cultural capital to 'meet' each other, organise themselves into specific communities and exchange their favourite songs [ 49 ].

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These communities use several new technologies to communicate and have their own language and terminology in English. This language is evident in chat rooms: It is the electronic common ground to which all pirates return, and in which primary contacts are made and relationships formed. By selecting and joining a 'channel' from a larger set of alternative channels with varying access rituals, audio pirates come to be categorised by musical genre, type of computer connection, sort of pirate group and other social attributes" [ 50 ].

Within these communities, status is affected by a variety of factors, such as connectivity, size and relevance of personal archives of music, behaviour, and tenure. But the most important characteristic of these communities is their attitude towards copyright. For many, copyright is simply irrelevant: It does not pertain to my existence in any way, because it never could affect me.

I buy the software I use for business and steal the software I use for pleasure. It is not like I can get caught, so why not? These communities are new social-virtual phenomena. Even though they have only existed for a short period of time, further analysis would prove fruitful. Has the music industry really lost out? The music industry today is an 'oligarchical' organised business [ 52 ] with over 70 percent of the global market controlled by five major corporations.

The possibilities for newcomers in the business are few. MP3 was so undesirable because it represented an application of technology unanticipated by the industry. Given the industry's history of taking advantage of new technologies, how will it use the Internet?

The future of the business is closely related to computer technology and the World Wide Web. The Internet provides opportunities to expand markets, transport goods more easily and hence increase sales, and consequently provide for more profitable results. New computing developments and environments will make the consumption of music easier than ever while at the same providing products of a much higher quality: Sony, for instance, is making nearly 4, titles from its back catalogue available in this fashion, including many out-of-print titles Sony's agreement with Digital-On-Demand provides a means by which entire albums or individual songs can be downloaded and burned onto a 'custom' CD for the consumer in a retail store We may witness a change in development of albums, as a result, and potentially a resurgence in the notion of a 'single', insofar as consumers may choose to purchase individual songs on a custom 'mix' CD of their own making" [ 53 ].

Certainly MP3 and especially Napster shocked the music industry by producing new ways of distributing and consuming music. But this shock provided the industry with a new direction and new purpose, to make new products available in ways that there undreamed of a decade ago.

EMI executive Ted Cohen recognized this: I think it is one of the coolest things to come around.

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I also thought the moment I show it 'My God! This could destroy the whole business' How do you take something like this and turn it into something that the industry really could use? Napster forced the music industry to rethink its marketing policies - improving its views of consumers, their consumption patterns and their use of free time: The public is catered for with a hierarchical range of mass produced products of varying quality, thus advancing the rule of complete quantification Consumers appear as statistics on research organisation charts, and are divided by income groups into red, green, and blue areas; the technique is that used for any type of propaganda" [ 55 ].

The use of a Napster-like program could potentially provide this sort of information in great detail. Beyond marketing and data collection, one could argue that the greatest contribution of Napster was as a new form of advertising for the music industry.

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Napster 'functioned' in many cases as the first, easily accessible album sampler for the consumer. In terms of political economy, Napster became a way of increasing overall demand for music [ 56 ]. In turn, increasing demand usually lowers prices when the producer has the capability to do so. In this case, the music industry can take advantage of technologies to lower the cost per unit impressively [ 57 ].

Napster induced major changes in the musical industry, such as the invention of sites like MusicNet. It had little negative effect on record sales [ 58 ].

Napster was not directly connected to a loss of profits; instead it was an 'ethical' issue for the music industry. Could music really be free? Consuming digital music The astonishing popularity of a number of MP3 sites indicates that popular music has experienced a fascinating change in demand and consumption. If we agree that advertising creates new needs, we can view MP3 as a special kind of advertising on a global scale for the music industry.

It created many new consumers and convinced existing ones to purchased music in traditional formats. MP3 consumers download music with an educational purpose, to learn about recent developments in music, in order to evaluate products and make appropriate consuming decisions. As Wilfred Dolfsma argued "as long as traditional record companies are able to supply physical goods with authentic appeal, sales will not dwindle because digital music will not completely substitute traditional forms" [ 59 ].

The fetish character of the original continues to exist for consumers; digital copies are not immediate replacements for it. We also need to consider the new kinds of interpersonal roles that are evolving on the Internet. Virtual interaction provides opportunities for many to re-assert their entity into a space with different rules than the 'real world'.

The anonymity of this interactivity provides weapons for one to masquerade, to ridicule, or to develop subversive behaviour. Some become music pirates just to do something illegal, something different. So we could argue that new forms of consumption have been created that have different characteristics; they are based on interaction and this means that they are dialectical, non-passive, and complex.

Yet, little objective information is available about these new forms of consumption. Artists Technological developments have radically changed the entire process of creating music.

Artists today can record their music in high quality digital audio, press their CDs and print colour inserts, all inside their own home. They can also work with other musicians from around the globe just by using the Web [ 60 ].

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Probably the most important effect of new technologies has been, and will continue to be, in music distribution. Artists are increasingly taking control of the distribution of their own music, rather than turn over their music and rights to the industry The artist now has the opportunity to account for profits without 'middleman' costs.

Most importantly, the artist is free of restrictions that the music industry often set, and consequently become more creative. It is - in other words - what Dave Steward of the band 'Eurythmics' claimed, "[Napster] makes artists ask why they are not in control of what they are doing.

Artists of any worth of strength will rise up and take control of the situation". New technologies provide the 'weapons' for artists to fight and regain creative control over the content. This freedom also allows artists to control their own intellectual properties rather than surrender them for marketing and distribution costs. The Internet provides a vast platform for an artist to distribute and develop direct relations with audiences, avoiding, abhorrent record deals and policies of the industry.

However there are disadvantages. The same technology that makes it possible for an artist to reach a global audience can be used to create illegal copies freely distributed. The industry also has the funds to support extended tours, and few artists are financially able to take these sorts of risks.

Music piracy as a political behaviour As mentioned earlier, the World Wide Web is a product of a specific historical and ideological period, and is thought to be a very useful 'tool' for economic expansion and capital transportation.

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Consequently, according to the traditional liberal philosophy, any type of intervention - governmental or private - in a free economy, is undesirable. The market should be free of interventions, as should the free market tools, such as today's Internet.

However, in the past there has been a need for control under specific circumstances, such as period after the great crash of These changes in economical policies offer opportunities for different levels of intervention.

With the World Wide Web, there are two main arguments for changing the existing juridical framework towards more intervening policies. The first arguments is based on the moral principles of modern societies, attempting to control, for example, pornography on the Internet.

In the second category we find copyright and intellectual property issues as well as forms of political behaviour. Hence one could argue that digital music piracy is a political action. Despite the personal motives of those that create file-sharing Web sites or of those that consume free music, the fact that their actions offend the oligarchical music industry makes their behaviour political. Their actions are political - in terms of ideology - because they subvert the existing economic structure of profit with new ways of distributing a commodity, based usually on the principle of an ideal non-profitable equality.

Artists using this technology are also making a political statement. It is a de facto political action because it offends the organisation of the musical industry, and emancipates artists to develop their music without constraints. Artists in turn are free to follow their own distribution philosophies, to develop their own political and economic attitudes towards their audiences.

Hence digitally distributed music - regardless of its subject - is a priori political. Music in the age of the digital distribution cannot be autonomous, without political implications, as l'art pour l'art. Walter Benjamin argues that mechanically reproduced art destroys the sense of authenticity, and dissolves the rituality that has been historically attached to traditional arts: We know that the earliest art works originated in the service of a ritual - first the magical, then the religious kind but the instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic reproduction, the total function of art is reversed.

So I told her. That was an amazing night. She's an amazing woman. I think we both realised what they were going to tell us.

They related that the tests had come back positive and it was very emotional. I sobbed my heart out. It's strange when things happen to you; you deal with them and you try and instil in people around you that everything's okay and that it's going to be fine.

But when it happens to your wife and you know that it's come via you, the feelings of guilt and blaming yourself are just awesome More about Haydn in the People section Joseph: Each time I'd made a new relationship, in the beginning they said that they understood the issues; they felt confident with them; they felt strong that they could deal with them. And when the relationship had come to an end, they would all say that they didn't have enough information; they didn't have the understanding; the absolute I'd decided I wasn't going to have a relationship again.

I couldn't handle it, it was too stressful. I didn't want to drag someone else into my nightmare, if you like. More about Joseph in the People section Mick: I was very rarely on my own without a girlfriend, but they wouldn't last more than two or three weeks. Because as soon as they got too close, it was like - no, that's it now, bye-bye! There's no point having a long term relationship because I'm not going to get married, I can't have kids, I'm going to be dead. So I'd just have my two or three weeks of fun and then I wouldn't let anybody get close to me at all.

More about Mick in the People section Owen: It screwed up my sex life, because I didn't dare have sex with anyone. And when I did, I had to get really, really drunk to have sex with them, because I wanted to tell them I was positive and I didn't. So I used to end up just getting drunk and not having sex. More about Owen in the People section Robert: Telling people you've got HIV can kind of de-sex you, and I feel I stop becoming a sexual option for some women, if they know I'm positive.

Therefore that's one of the few circumstances that I'm kind of quite reticent about telling people, because I want them to know me a bit as a human being and if they fancy me to remember they fancy me when I tell them, rather than them allocating me to a category of 'this person's not an option to sleep with or go out with'.