There’s a trend toward subscription streaming music services as opposed to purchasing MP3s and syncing to your phone. Google Play is actually promoting its subscription service as freeing you from “the hassle of syncing.”
There’s a certain logic to that. Everyone has wifi at home and LTE on the go, so it works. Spotify, rdio, Google, and others get new albums pretty much right away. You don’t have to download anything. You pay a nominal monthly fee to unfettered access to the whole of these music databases. It’s pure convenience.
I think Google’s campaign against syncing is pretty smart, actually. I recently overheard a conversation about this very issue. The two were discussing downloading versus streaming. They hated the idea of having to actually download an MP3 that would take up space on their hard drives and mobile devices.
Plus, most people use multiple devices — I have a media center PC, a laptop, an Android tablet, and an Android phone that I use to listen to music on a regular basis. That’s a lot of syncing. That’s a lot of libraries to organize. Subscription services essentially take the hassle out of handling your digital music library.
That being said, I’m not entirely sold on the idea. I know I’m sort of going against the trend right now, but I like having an MP3 that I know is mine and I know won’t go anywhere. Sure, it takes up space on my devices, and it takes time to keep everything synced and organized, but I know that this is my library and it’s not going to go anywhere. If I subscribe to Spotify and their licensing deal with a label suddenly changes, my music could disappear. If I own the MP3, that doesn’t affect me.
I’m sort of like the guy who was still buying CDs when the rest of the world moved to iTunes. But hey, good luck listening to your music when you drive into a non-LTE area or your company has a licensing dispute with a record label.
I’m really loving the trend toward self-publishing these days. Writers get to own their works. It democratizes the marketplace. Etc. Etc. Hugh Howey’s Wool is a perfect example of how this model can and should work.
There are still a few issues to work out, though:
1) Print books are still the way to go. Kindles are great. Nooks are great. But they still aren’t print books. While you can self-publish a print book, that marketplace isn’t as viable for most self-publishing authors. They tend to make their livings via ebooks and digital serials.
2) Marketing. It’s extremely difficult to market a self-published work if you’re not a known author. Publishing companies have the dime to spend bajillions on ad campaigns that makes the public aware of you. If you don’t have that, you basically have to use social media and somehow convince your potential audience that you’re worth their money.
And, I think, most importantly:
3) Editors. Editors serve two primary purposes as it concerns the reader: copy editing and gatekeeping. The first one is pretty self-explanatory. You need to have your work edited. Make sure there’s consistency throughout the narrative, make sure there aren’t any seplling errors, etc. Writers can and certainly should hire a professional copy editor to go over their work before publishing. But the gatekeeper role is something I still think is important. Authors need editors to reject them once in a while. Editors’ jobs are to know the audience. They have a vested interest in making sure that they publish the best work. And I think that’s an important role. Sure, they don’t always hit the mark, but 95% of the things coming out of the top 5 publishing houses is going to be much better than 95% of the self-published works.
This is where I think things get tricky. I mentioned before that one of the benefits of this self-publishing trend is the democratization of the marketplace. The customer decides, not some all-power editorial gatekeeper. Eventually, I think this will work itself out. But right now, you have some famous YouTubers peddling some self-published garbage, but because they have a large fanbase from their YouTube channels, they get high Amazon or iTunes rankings. It makes discoverability more difficult for other, more talented authors.
All of that being said, I’m excited about the future of publishing. It’s already seen the resurgence of dying literary art forms such as the novella and the serial. Howey’s Wool is a great example of that. It originated as a short story that he just wanted to get out there, and he kept adding to it over time, making it a highly successful serial. It’s a whole new/old world out there. It’s pretty exciting.
I have a problem with the way the media has been using Bill Nye recently, largely because of his recent debate with Ken Ham over evolution and creationism. Before I begin my rant about the media, let me first say that I completely respect Bill Nye. I think his work has done huge amounts of good in term of science education. That said, I do think he did more harm than good with his creationism debate and things have kind of snowballed since then.
This post is really about the media and the problem of false equivalency. More often than not, the news media informs our cultural conversations. Lunch hours are spent discussing the latest happenings in the world, and debating various viewpoints. In an effort to appear “fair and balanced,” however, news organizations have failed to do their jobs. The fundamental responsibility journalists hold is to inform the public and speak truth to power. They no longer want that responsibility and instead opt to show “both sides” of the issues, relying on “experts” on both sides to make their arguments, without ever explaining the truth to their audiences.
HuffPost has a great write up about this issue as it pertains to the climate change “debate” and mainstream media, namely NBC’s Meet the Press. Essentially MTP host David Gregory teased a debate between Bill Nye and Marsha Blackburn over climate change. Nye, of course, accepts the reality of climate change, while Blackburn doesn’t believe it is an issue. The problem here is that there is no debate about climate change. None. As Jack Mirkinson notes in the HuffPost piece, “The only debate left is what to do about climate change, not whether it exists.”
The mainstream media, however, won’t come down on the issue. If the news programs and networks would stop giving climate change deniers airtime, the general public would quickly stop debating the issue. Because it’s not debatable. Climate change isn’t debatable. Evolution isn’t debatable. Because science.
On the surface, this doesn’t sound like a huge deal, right? Who cares if someone believes in creationism over evolution? Who cares if the public is misinformed about climate change? What are the consequences of a little ignorance?
The problem is that you have deep red conservative state legislators writing bills that would require science textbooks to give equivalency to creationism — instilling scientific ignorance and mistrust in a generation of students. The problem is that while we’re having the debate over whether or not climate change exists, we aren’t discussing what we need to do about it.
We need journalists to do their jobs: inform the public and call perpetuators of misinformation out on their lies.
Watch Bill Nye on MTP here: