Music

Reflecting on my research

On my post from last week about live music in Thailand, I received a number of comments suggesting I should look into some other Asian nation’s live music industry, and evaluate how these were either similar or different to that of which I have already learned about Thailand. I found this very interesting – it was something that I hadn’t really thought about doing myself and I think it could give me an added level of insight into my overall topic of Thailand’s music industry, in terms of an added context of related countries.
However, it happens to be the last week of required blogging for this subject – meaning I have little to no time to explore this topic before getting started on my final research project (in the same topic). That being said, I have decided to focus on this issue in this project a little more than I would have done otherwise – so thank you for the suggestion, fellow bloggers!
In this post, I have decided to merely wrap up what I have been discussing over the semester, and discuss with you what I think I have learned over the course of completed DIGC330.
First of all, this was a really interesting assessment to complete due to its methodology of autoethnography. It was enlightening to constantly give my own opinions and perspectives on whichever topic I would be talking about, especially in terms of secondary and academic research – which is something that I have never really done before at university.
This methodology really allowed me to engage with the research material in a way that I had never been able to achieve previously.
In terms of the topic I chose to look into, I feel as though I really learned some new information that I’ll carry with me for a while. Being an avid music lover, it was an easy topic to research due to my own personal interest.
However, that being said, I primarily listen to only Australian music (for no particular reason – all my favourite bands just turn out to be local), which means my knowledge did not really span past this.
Overall, I found this blogging assessment to be really beneficial to discovering what DIGC330 is all about as a subject, and gave me a really good idea into what I wish to be researching in my personal project a few weeks from now!
Catchya on the flipside, all you dedicated readers.

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Live Music in Thailand

After looking into Thailand’s music scene and industry over the course of the semester, I realized that I have not yet chosen to look into the live music scene in this region. This is especially strange due to how much I enjoy live music here at home – I’ve lost count of how many bands I’ve seen over the years.

For my project, I’ve chosen to look into more alternative music genres throughout Asia, rather than focusing on mainstream artists. This means that most live gigs that I will be talking about will not take place in large stadiums or well-known venues – rather underground bars and clubs, and old houses turned music warehouses.

After doing a quick Google search of live music in Thailand, I was directed to the Lonely Planet’s website that detailed a few alternative and ‘indie’ venues such as ‘Brick Bar’, a basement pub and ‘Parking Toys’, a nightclub in Bangkok that specializes in local electronic music (Lonely Planet, 2014). It was interesting to discover venues such as these – of course, most cities in any country has their own local and underground music scene that we may not know about, but it is a little strange for me to think of this one in particular.

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This got me thinking about why I hold such views. Why is it that it can be so normal for me to experience Sydney or Wollongong’s local music scene, but almost unheard of for the same events to take place in an Asian country?

After asking myself this question, I find that most of my Asian stereotypes in terms of music stem from the huge popularity of genres such as J-Pop and K-Pop that have penetrated the Western music industry, and that we can now hear here in Australia on a daily basis. Due to the sheer magnitude of K-pop artists and songs such as Psy’s Gangnam Style (with two billion YouTube hits, it’s a wonder if anyone hasn’t heard this song) I feel as if though these types of artists are what I primarily think of in terms of Asian music.

Of course, I know that this is a stereotype and a generalization. This is why I think my research into Thailand’s music industry is really helping me to break these views I used to hold. Music is something that I enjoy thoroughly, and it has been enlightening over the semester to be able to broaden my horizons, and quash any clichéd perspectives I used to hold about the Asian music scene.

Thailand’s music industry and the use of Spotify

In my research of the alternative music genre located in Thailand, this week I have decided to go in a different direction and delve into the actual music industry of this nation, and research concepts such as the primary music producers; influence of content; and distribution of funds.

This will be an interesting comparison to make with the Australian music industry, and to investigate any similarities or differences. I thought that this would be quite a relevant topic to explore due to the personal experiences I have had with the music industry here in Australia – for instance, my mum has worked for Sony Music Australia for my entire life, and I have also worked there on a few occasions.

This personal insight into one music company here is a great advantage when researching something as broad as music production in a particular nation, as it allows me to have a perception on some aspects, that I may not have had otherwise.

In Thailand, there is one music conglomerate company, called GMM Grammy that controls the majority of music production and distribution coming from artists in that nation.

This is split into a few smaller companies, such as Genie Records, Grammy Gold and UP^G Records. The Grammy group principally controls the Thai music industry, with intellectual property regulations, manufacturing, distribution and business models all falling under the Grammy umbrella.

As it has in many other countries, piracy has been of great detriment to Thailand’s music industry. According to GMM Grammy, the sales of the conglomerate’s products have decreased drastically, although the live music scene has actually boosted in recent times. This is thought to be because of the increase in use of digital and social media technology for music access – artists’ names are being thrown out there more often across platforms which leads to a higher level of recognition.

This is interesting to note in terms of comparison to the state of the music industry in Australia. For instance, the piracy epidemic is actually decreasing here. Music streaming apps such as Spotify are allowing users to have instant access to any music they like, which was the previous lure of illegal downloading – although the app comes at a price, which users don’t seem to have a problem with.

Being a regular Spotify user myself, I can definitely identify with the attraction that the app exhibits. I love having access to any artists or songs that I like, at any time and across devices (for instance, I have Spotify installed on my iPhone, iPad and Macbook).

This is definitely a difference between music in Thailand in Australia. I am yet to find an app or program that is equal to Spotify in Thailand – i.e., that provides its users’ with music instantly, legally, and for a small fee. It would be interesting to investigate this further to discover whether there have been any attempts for one to be launched, that have either failed or not become popular.

I just love music, okay?!

After discussing with my Digital Asia class this week about the actual aims of our own investigation into different aspects of Asian culture in a digital sense being to investigate from an autoethnographic level, I found that I needed to restructure the way in which I have been going about and recording my research as a whole.

This week I have thoroughly researched what it means to be successful in the practice of autoethnography, and I established an appropriate definition by my understanding – ‘the way that an author studies and in turn discusses a certain culture’s relational practices, values, beliefs and shared experiences to assist outsiders better understand the culture, while relating this back to the author’s own past opinions, stereotypes and experiences’.

I primarily decided on this definition through Carolyn Ellis’ (et. al) article ‘Autoethnography: an Overview’ from 2011.

In terms of my research topic, the alternative music genre in Thailand, and different artists’ experience with various social media platforms, this autoethnographic perspective will be entirely relevant, due to the high interest I personally have into alternative music.

Ever since I can remember, I have had an immense interest in music, along with my entire family. I am a fan of almost any genre under the alternative umbrella – indie pop, garage rock, heavy metal, hardcore, punk – with my favourite at the moment being Australian stoner pop (it seems that this is an official thing now – Dune Rats anyone?).

In addition to this, I have a high interest in the way that the music industry works, not only here in Australia but around the world.

It’s also fascinating to discover how different countries interact with one another in terms of their own industries.

For the remainder of my research, I aim to look into the social media practices of artists from Thailand, while also contrasting the actual music content with that of Australian artists who may be similar. It will be interesting to find similar artists, and discuss my experience of the two – do I like one more than the other? Why might this be?

After finally fully understanding the basis behind autoethnography as a research methodology, I think I will be able to reach the full potential that comes with my research topic!

Research Project finally decided – Alternative Thai music scene

This week, I have finally decided on the final topic for my digital research project for DIGC330. Yes, I know this took me a while to hone in but I felt as if I didn’t have a certain direction – until now.

I have decided to look into the alternative music scene in Thailand, with a focus on particular artists’ social media practices. It will be interesting to discover which artists favor which platforms, and to delve into why these choices may have been made by some.

To do this, I will be finding examples of artists from Thailand that embody the alternative music genre – but not until I define what can be considered alternative! I chose to specifically focus on music from Thailand due to the sheer number of musicians that hail from there – it’s actually quite surprising to discover how big the indie music scene is in their country.

I think this definition is necessary if you want to find appropriate artists and delve into what makes them ‘alternative’ rather than ‘mainstream’. It will also be interesting to find out why these two ends of the spectrum are so different.

This video helped to introduce me to the different kinds of bands that I will be dealing with when researching alternative Thai music. To give a more personal feel to the project

I have chosen to listen to a few different bands in depth and find out which ones I like the most, and try to discover why this could be.

Being a big fan of mainly Australian alternative music myself, I feel as though this could be a very interesting comparison to make – between Thai and local Australian bands.

Through this research, my digital artifact will soon begin to take form. I am planning on making an annotated playlist using music-streaming platform SoundCloud of a variety of different alternative Thai bands, including ones that I did like and also was not really a fan of.

I will include commentary on each track, discussing the make-up of each song, and why this has affected my research.

Although it did take me a little longer than expected to settle on a final research topic, I am happy with the direction in which my project is headed, and can’t wait for you all to see the final result!

The Yers – Thailand’s Indie music scene

 

The Yers are an alternative post-punk revival five-piece band from Thailand, formed in 2003. They are very traditional in terms of the way in which they choose to communicate with their fans and the general public using digital technologies, as well as promoting their music.

The band does not have its own website, rather operating through their record label, ‘Genie Records’ which is a primarily Thai label that features the Yers.

After exploring this website to get a feel for the way in which The Yers are represented online, I discovered that the website was almost identical to Western record labels online – it featured tabs for artists; blog; store; music; and news. Although the site was written in Thai, there were English translations provided for me underneath – without me having to manually change the language.

I believe it to be very smart of Genie Records in doing this – it allowed them to break the language barrier that often exists between Western and Asian communities, and also gives the bands featured on the label the opportunity to be discovered by those who may be located in different areas or markets.

In saying this however, the band does have an official Facebook page that is updated regularly with news, music and communications from the band, primarily written in Thai. It features essential information fans need to know, as well as shared photos and videos to get a feel for what the Yers are attempting to promote as a group.

It is interesting to note that although the band is quite active in terms of Facebook use, there is little to no activity on other social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram. Although the band does have an official Twitter account, they have not made a tweet in over a year – this shows that they obviously prefer Facebook as their preferred method of communication with their fans and communities around the world.

It would be interesting to delve into this matter further – WHY do some celebrities or groups favour some platforms over others? Is it because of the different functionalities across the varieties? This is something that I would like to explore during the progress of my personal research project into alternative Asian music artists.

Asian Hip-Hop – Plan of action!

Nicole, Sara, Jess

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WEEK 1-2

  • Have a group meeting to clearly define our aims and intentions for the project and adopt a research framework
  • Assign a country to each member
  • Create our digital artefact so we can begin adding to it

Choices of countries to compare:

  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Philippines
  • India
  • China and Taiwan
  • Malaysia

Digital artefact:

Tumblr post – We will all contribute to and build a tumblr post that combines images, videos and links to relevant sources with our research and analysis. Our posts will attempt to highlight what distinguishes hip-hop from each country and makes it unique.

WEEK 2-5

Each member should conduct their own research to answer these questions, and others that may arise, in relation to their assigned country.

Any relevant sources and ideas should be communicated via tumblr throughout the four weeks, not just at the end, so the final product reflects a cumulative process.

We could potentially arrange a theme for each week to ‘post’ on or just post as we find

Key questions:

  • How and when did hip-hop emerge in this country?
  • What are the characteristics that distinguish this brand of hip-hop?
  • What makes it similar to hip-hop from other parts of Asia?
  • What are the similarities and differences that can be drawn to African-American hip-hop roots?
  • How do these hip-hop practices incorporate or reflect elements of the in-country culture?
  • What are some quintessential examples of hip hop and who are the hip-hop celebrities? (post links to videos/audio)
  • What are some of the dominant lyrical themes?
  • Who is consuming this music and how is it distributed?
  • Does this reflect a localisation of traditional hip-hop, or has globalisation/capitalism accelerated a change in hip-hop worldwide?

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WEEK 5-6

The group will meet up to develop our presentation. This will mean deciding on the most salient features of the research, talk about what we expected to discover from the research and whether these expectations differed from the outcome, how the results from each country differed and how we can tie in all the results to present to the class.

 

Hatsune Miku

James FranklinEd Abbott, and Paul Tuohy

Image credit: SingularityHub

We’ve recently developed a fascination with Hatsune Miku. She’s a pop star, but she’s not really attributed to a country; she’s not even human. She’s a digital vocaloid developed by Japanese company Crypton. A 16 year old girl with long turquoise pigtails that can perform anything you want, anything (it’s intriguingly shameful, but yes, anything), or sing live as a 3D hologram at a concert of thousands.

There’s no producer involvement, no invisible forces controlling the distribution, song production or choreography. There are no pressures to maintain an image or to retain a certain look like Dami Im  or Justin Bieber. Miku can sing anything because she’s a fan created pop star. Well almost, she’s a brand for Crypton’s software. You could compare her to other digital representations of music like the Gorillaz or Daft Punk. Yet, even though she may be manipulated by anyone around the world, performing in varying genres and languages, she will forever be a 16 year old girl with pig tails.

We’re excited to learn more and discover what Miku means to others and us. We could even create some songs. But first, we’ve provided an excellent video produced by Chris Plante for Polygon, discussing the many values of Hatsune Miku versus other pop stars, her creation, and the role of her fans.