Category Archives: News

Reflective Writing for Concept Experience #5

Part One

For our fifth concept experience I aimed to make the article interactive and resourceful. I looked up the original article itself as well for reference. I wanted to link previous articles mentioned in this article so readers had the ability to read those articles for themselves. Since the article was about Facebook and their recent psychology experiment, I linked their website, it’s sign up page and the data usage information for those who might be curious about those as well. I also decided to link Adam Kramer’s Facebook page for those who might be curious to learn more about him since he was mentioned in the third section of the article. The original article had lines separating each section of the article so I decided to at horizontal lines to add some more creativity to the article thanks to the blog theme. The GIFs that I added are what I found and felt represented each section best. The first GIF was mainly just a funny one I found about Facebook, but the second represented the ridiculous things we’re secretly forced to agree with when signing up for such services. The final picture actually isn’t a GIF but a picture of Adam Kramer since he’s mentioned in that section. Then to finish it off, I added a video at the end. The video basically reminds us that we shouldn’t be surprised that this has happened, nor is it anything new.

Part Two

This concept experience assignment made me realize how much more fun this writing class is compared to the previous one’s I’ve taken. Our reports can be much more interactive with the use of images, videos and links to support our arguments. Images and videos can be used to reinforce the meaning of the message we’re attempting to send to our readers. Links are extremely useful for referencing the information we’ve used to its original source. I would imagine that my final product of the inquiry project will look like an academic blog post or news article.

http://www.vice.com/read/isis-stole-some-shiny-new-weapons-from-the-iraqi-army-989

If I could base my report of any article or source, I’d pick VICE. The link above is to a recent article I read on VICE that uses images, videos and links to support the main claim of the article. It’s a simple and common format you see used on many news sources, but I use VICE all the time for current events and other oddball articles. The only other useful way to jazz up my report other than the use of images, links, and videos, is splitting the report up into pages. Otherwise, I’m still trying to figure that one out.

 

Research Nuggets #3

Source #7

Step 1 – MLA Citation:

“SPOTIFY WAS DESIGNED FROM THE GROUND UP TO COMBAT PIRACY.” TorrentFreak. N.p., 04 Dec. 2013. Web. 11 July 2014.

Step 2 – Main Claim:

Music streaming services have contributed to a decline in music piracy. More specifically, Spotify was designed with the intention of alleviating music piracy.

Step 3 – Nuggets:

“The notion, that “it’s impossible to compete with free”, sat well with lawmakers and governments, who looked at offerings coming out of The Pirate Bay and thousands of other similar sites and widely agreed that no-one will pay for something if they can get it for nothing” (SPOTIFY WAS DESIGNED 2013).

This nugget points out the obvious reason for an increase in piracy which happens to be a factor in the success of streaming services in combating piracy. Why pay for something when you can have it for free? The only thing better than receiving something for free is getting paid to receive something.

“Right from the beginning Spotify founder Daniel Ek held a solid belief that if his service offered a better experience and superior convenience than that being offered by The Pirate Bay, people would jump on board.

And they have. Earlier this year the service confirmed it had amassed a total of 24 million users worldwide, 18 million on their ad-supported service and 6 million paying a subscription” (SPOTIFY WAS DESIGNED 2013).

Another valid point, why download illegally and risk legal ramifications if there was a service that provides the same content with the same features and quality for free? Or even pay a little bit each much for more features and better quality? The amount of users that have subscribed to Spotify prove that people find it a useful and quality service, but does that mean it truly reduces the amount of people that pirate music?

“In Sweden, a market that should be the most difficult to turn around if file-sharing traditions are any barometer, Spotify says that the number of people who pirated music fell by 25 percent between 2009 and 2011.

In Denmark the IFPI reports that 48% of users using streaming services had previously been illegal downloaders. An impressive 8 out of 10 of those have now stopped completely. Norway, a success story documented earlier this year, has seen its piracy rates drop to just one-fifth of their levels four years earlier, with streaming services taking most of the credit” (SPOTIFY WAS DESIGNED 2013).

In Sweden and Denmark the reports point towards yes. In Sweden, from 2009 to 2011 a quarter of those who chose to download music illegally had stopped thanks to services like Spotify. The trend continued in Denmark as well, where almost half of the users who used streaming services had previously been music pirates. With 8 out of 10 of those consumers having stopped downloading illegally completely.

Source #8

Step 1 – MLA Citation:

“PIRACY COLLAPSES AS LEGAL ALTERNATIVES DO THEIR JOB.”TorrentFreak. N.p., 16 July 2013. Web. 11 July 2014.

Step 2 – Main Claim:

Legal alternatives for accessing music, movies and TV have had an impact on reducing digital piracy. There’s no excuse for downloading illegally when you have legitimate options for enjoying the same content.

Step 3 – Nuggets:

“The report shows that in 2008 almost 1.2 billion songs were copied without permission. However, by 2012 that figure had plummeted to 210 million, just 17.5% of its level four years earlier.

As expected, piracy of movies and TV shows in 2008 was at much lower levels than music, with 125 million movies and 135 million TV shows copied without permission. But by last year the figures for both had reduced by around half, to 65 million and 55 million respectively” (PIRACY COLLAPSES 2013).

This nugget of the article states details from a report about the decline of piracy in Norway. From 2008 to 2012, the amount of songs copied without permission declined by 82.5%. Music hasn’t been the only beneficiary of streaming services, the movie and TV industry has benefited from services such as Netflix. 

“Of those questioned for the survey, 47% (representing around 1.7 million people) said they use a streaming music service such as Spotify. Even more impressively, just over half (corresponding to 920,000 people and 25% of Norwegian Internet users) said that they pay for the premium option.

While TV show piracy has reduced by half in four years, it actually peaked at the start of 2011 with 200 million shows copied without permission. However, since then with the introduction of legal alternatives, unauthorized copying is down more than 72%” (PIRACY COLLAPSES 2013).

A survey reported that 47% of 1.7 million people surveyed use streaming services and a number of them pay for these services too. The number of illegal copies of TV shows was down 72% over a 4 year period.

Source #9

Step 1 – MLA Citation:

Edgecliffe-Johnson, Andrew. “Streaming Revenues Turn the Tide against Digital Pirates – FT.com.” Financial Times. N.p., 04 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 July 2014.

Step 2 – Main Claim:

Although piracy continues to be a nuisance, streaming services are helping reduce piracy numbers. 

Step 3 – Nuggets:

“In an analysis of the Dutch market, Will Page, an economist working for Spotify, found that releases by Rihanna and Taylor Swift that were held off Spotify sold just one legal copy for each BitTorrent download, while hits from One Direction and Robbie Williams that were instantly available for streaming sold four copies” (Edgecliffe-Johnson 2013).

Releases that weren’t available on Spotify boasted a legal purchase to illegal download ratio of 1:1 whereas releases available on Spotify posted a ratio of 4:1.

“High rates of piracy for hits such as Game of Thrones  in markets such as Australia show that consumers still look to illegal sources if content is not available legally in all parts of the world the minute that US consumers get it” (Edgecliffe-Johnson 2013).

This nugget directly proves the effect Netflix has on video piracy. Game of Thrones still remains a highly pirated TV show because it’s streaming availability is limited to those who pay for an HBO subscription. It’s not available on Netflix or any other video streaming service with the exception of HBO GO.

Source #10

Step 1 – MLA Citation:

Cammaerts, Bart, and Nick Anstead, comps. “Why Pay If It’s Free?”MEDIA@LSE Electronic MSc Dissertation Series (2011): 0-39. London School of Economics and Political Science. Aug. 2011. Web. 11 July 2014.

Step 2 – Main Claim:

The Internet and new digital media outlets have changed the landscape of music revenues. Not only has digital music created a huge decline in the sales of physical albums it also created a dramatic increase in theft of music. The Internet and peer-to-peer networking has created the ability to share music with others thus not having to pay for it.

Step 3 – Nuggets:

“The majority of streaming users (76.5%) were satisfied with the service, in comparison to just 11.3% of users who were dissatisfied. This suggests an overall high quality and helps to explain the rapid adoption of such services” (Cammaerts and Anstead 2011).

The high level of satisfaction among those who use streaming services makes the quick increase in subscription numbers reasonable. While it doesn’t prove continuous use over a long period of time, it suggests a willingness to find alternatives to downloading illegally.

“The price of an MP3 was viewed as unfair by 25.3% of respondents and 23.6% of the cohort had never purchased music in a digital format. In comparison, 18.2% of consumers who perceived the price to be fair had never purchased digital music. It is likely that free legitimate sources or illegal downloads provide an alternative channel to satisfy demand for consumers who have relatively low willingness to pay for digital music” (Cammaerts and Anstead 2011).

Those found to be in disagreement with the prices of MP3′s are more likely to download music illegally or use free streaming services rather than pay for the music.

Concept Experience #5

Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment

By William Hughes
Jun 27, 2014 – 3:30 PM

Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.


In order to sign up for Facebook, users must click a box saying they agree to the Facebook Data Use Policy, giving the company the right to access and use the information posted on the site. The policy lists a variety of potential uses for your data, most of them related to advertising, but there’s also a bit about “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” In the study, the authors point out that they stayed within the data policy’s liberal constraints by using machine analysis to pick out positive and negative posts, meaning no user data containing personal information was actually viewed by human researchers. And there was no need to ask study “participants” for consent, as they’d already given it by agreeing to Facebook’s terms of service in the first place.


Facebook data scientist Adam Kramer is listed as the study’s lead author. In an interview the company released a few years ago, Kramer is quoted as saying he joined Facebook because “Facebook data constitutes the largest field study in the history of the world.” It’s a charming reminder that Facebook isn’t just the place you go to see pictures of your friends’ kids or your racist uncle’s latest rant against the government—it’s also an exciting research lab, with all of us as potential test subjects.

Should we really be surprised?

Original Article

Research Nuggets #2

Source #4

Step 1 – MLA Citation:

“Spotify Is Good For The Music Industry, Its CEO Says.” Weekend Edition Sunday 4 Dec. 2011. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 July 2014.

Step 2 – Main Claim:

This NPR segment was an interview with Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify. The main claim of the article is that Spotify has created the ability for users to access their favorite music anywhere they have Internet access with the intent of cracking down on music piracy. They’ve also added social features so friends can share their new favorite music with each other. Ek claims that this has created a new way for artists to spread their music and increased opportunity for sales when fans truly enjoy their music. Audie Cornish, NPR’s correspondent, points out that some artists are bashing the royalties they receive for the plays their music gets on Spotify claiming its borderline piracy.

Step 3 – Nuggets:

“What we’re really trying to do here is move people away from piracy into a legal model that contributes revenue back to the music industry” (Ek, “Spotify Is Good For The Music Industry, Its CEO Says”).

“I feel that it’s important to mention that it’s still early days and Spotify’s only two years in using the service, almost three. But in that short period of time now we’ve become the second largest revenue generator for the labels in Europe and we’ve paid out more than a 150 million dollars back to the music industry” (Ek, “Spotify Is Good For The Music Industry, Its CEO Says”).

“But again, what I sort of emphasize that we’re paying the labels. We don’t pay the artists directly” (Ek, “Spotify Is Good For The Music Industry, Its CEO Says”).

In these few nuggets, Ek claims that Spotify’s objective is to curb music piracy and that their service had already channeled $150 millon dollars back into the music industry. Although, Ek stops short of explaining who in the vast music industry is seeing this revenue other than labels. Note that this is an interview from 2011, so it’ll be worth while to find if this remains the same in 2014.

“At the same time one of the big criticisms that we’ve heard from artists is that the royalties that they get from Spotify are so low that it might as well be piracy. (Cornish, “Spotify Is Good For The Music Industry, Its CEO Says”).

“I also want to say that this model’s very, very different from the one that iTunes and the other music players have had in the past; buying to own, and what Spotify really is changing here is we’re talking about access to music” (Ek, “Spotify Is Good For The Music Industry, Its CEO Says”).

“I think if you keep creating great music people will in fact listen to it and they will in fact buy it if they think it’s a great record”…”if they really like it they will share it and their friends will discover it and they in turn will listen to it, and that means that their friends will listen to it.” (Ek, “Spotify Is Good For The Music Industry, Its CEO Says”).

Cornish points out that artists are criticizing the royalties they receive from Spotify, claiming it’s borderline piracy itself. Ek responds by claiming that Spotify offers access to music, not ownership, thus the difference in royalty rewards. He then claims that if artists continue to make great music, it will sell and be shared with friends who will also listen to it and possibly buy the track or album.

Source #5

Step 1 – MLA Citation:

“Pandora Buys A Radio Station, Songwriters’ Group Calls It A ‘Stunt’.” Weekend Edition Saturday 15 June 2013. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 July 2014.

Step 2 – Main Claim:

Pandora has really low payouts to the musicians who have music streaming on their service and have purchased a radio station in hopes to pay a lower rate for the music they stream. Pandora is struggling to make a profit while other services like iHeartRadio pays lower fees to broadcast the same music since they own multiple radio stations.

Step 3 – Nuggets:

 “Morgan’s an independent musician and his song “Better Angels” was among a number of his songs that got some 28,000 plays on Pandora” (Sydell, “Pandora Buys A Radio Station, Songwriters’ Group Calls It A ‘Stunt’”).

“The song earned $1.62 in royalties over a 90-day period on Pandora, which is a very typical rate” (Morgan, “Pandora Buys A Radio Station, Songwriters’ Group Calls It A ‘Stunt’”).

Blake Morgan is an artist who received a $1.62 payout for a 90-day period in which his song “Better Angels” received 28,000 plays on Pandora.

“Pandora, which is the number one Internet radio service, saw over $125 million in revenue last quarter, 55 percent more than the year before. But the company still isn’t profitable in part because it pays over 60 percent of its revenues to acquire music” (Sydell, “Pandora Buys A Radio Station, Songwriters’ Group Calls It A ‘Stunt’”).

“But the future is clearly in Internet radio services like Pandora. According to a survey by the NPD Group, people under 35 spent a quarter of their listening on the Internet in 2012 – that’s up 17 percent from the year before. Time spent listening to radio went down 2 percent. At the same time, people are purchasing less music” (Sydell, “Pandora Buys A Radio Station, Songwriters’ Group Calls It A ‘Stunt’”).

Although Pandora raked in over $125 million in revenue in one quarter, they failed to make a profit due to the fact that it pays over 60% of its revenue for music to stream. This is all despite the fact that revenue increased 55% compared to the same quarter the previous year. Also, it’s worth noting the number of people using internet radio services increased 17% from the previous year while radio listeners decreased along with music sales.

Source #6

Step 1 – MLA Citation:

Waters, Roger, Nick Mason, and David Gilmour. “Pink Floyd: Pandora’s Internet Radio Royalty Ripoff.” USA Today. Gannett, 25 June 2013. Web. 08 July 2014.

Step 2 – Main Claim:

The band Pink Floyd wrote this article and submitted it to USA Today in June of 2013 to voice their opinion of Pandora’s royalty payouts; including their attempt to lower those payouts with the backing of U.S. Congress. While Pink Floyd remains supportive of Internet radio services including Pandora, they believe artists aren’t receiving fair payment for their work. Rather than destroy Pandora’s credibility they, along with more artists would prefer to work with Pandora to work out something that’s fair for everyone involved.

Step 3 – Nuggets:

“The latest example is how Pandora is pushing for a special law in Congress to slash musicians’ royalties – and the tactics they are using to trick artists into supporting this unfair cut in pay” (Waters et al.).

Pandora is fighting to reduce royalty payouts and they’re asking for Congress’ support when artists receive next to nothing for their work from Pandora in the first place.

“We hope that many online and mobile music services can give fans and artists the music they want, when they want it, at price points that work. But those same services should fairly pay the artists and creators who make the music at the core of their businesses” (Waters et al.).

Pink Floyd supports the idea and use of Internet radio services although they don’t agree with the payouts that artists receive for their work. Artists should be able to share their music with the fans and deserve fair compensation for their labor.

Nearly 90% of the artists who get a check for digital play receive less than $5,000 a year. They cannot afford the 85% pay cut Pandora asked Congress to impose on the music community” (Waters et al.).

With only 10% of the artists who’s music is played on Pandora receiving more than $5,000 a year, most can’t make a living off their music; especially after the 85% pay cut Pandora is asking for congress to impose.

“We’ve heard Pandora complain it pays too much in royalties to make a profit. (Of course, we also watched Pandora raise $235 million in its IPO and double its listeners in the last two years.) But a business that exists to deliver music can’t really complain that its biggest cost is music”…”Netflix pays more for movies than Pandora pays for music, but they aren’t running to Congress for a bailout. Everyone deserves the right to be paid a fair market rate for their work, regardless of what their work entails” (Waters et al.).

Although it has been proven that Pandora is struggling to make a profit, it doesn’t allow them to complain that the cost of the music they stream is too high. Music is their business and if their business is too expensive to turn profit, then they should close doors. That’s Business 101 and they don’t deserve a bailout for those reasons. Netflix pays more for it’s content and they’re not complaining about the cost of movies and TV shows.

Synthesis

The first article’s main claim is almost the exact opposite of the last two articles. All three are similar in the fact that they are arguing that music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora are paying royalties to the artists who’s music is played on such services. This is an obvious point, yet that’s also where the first article differs from the last two. The first article is a segment from NPR in which they interview the CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, thus the answers are biased. Ek claims that Spotify provides users with access to their favorite music rather than ownership, thus royalty payouts work differently than digital music sales. In the next two articles, the music streaming service known as Pandora claims that royalties are higher than they should be because they’re struggling to make a profit due to the high price they have to pay for the rights to stream the music. Another claim that remains consistent throughout all three articles is the fact that artists are making next to nothing in royalties from these music streaming services.

A Simple Introduction

My name is William Strahan but please, call me Max.

I’m a student a VCU studying Computer Science and I also work for the VCU Health System.

I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1990 and grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands until I was almost 10 years old. I’ve been in the states ever since, although I’ve moved around quite a bit since then.  After school, I hope to continue building experience in my career field and travel the world to meet new people and experience new cultures.

Hobbies

  • Hiking
  • Snowboarding
  • Gaming
  • Web Development
  • Fishing
  • Traveling

Interests

  • Music (especially EDM)
  • Sports (All Denver teams & the Washington Capitals)
  • Food (Mexican & Thai are my favorites)
  • Movies (The latest X-Men movie was AWESOME!)
  • Netflix (You should check out Trailer Park Boys)
  • History (Greek & Roman, Warfare)

Well…that’s pretty much it. If you’d like to get to know me more just leave a comment!