Don’t underestimate the power of new media. Pay attention to it, especially how it changes the behaviour of people. Rob Ford is not much into new technology and therefore constantly underestimated things like the ubiquity of smart phones with audio/video recording devices. He also seemed to misunderstand that smart phone audio/video recording of him increased greatly after he became a public figure. Even more so after he became a well known public figure shrouded in constant scandal and controversy.
I don’t want to go down a Marshall McLuhan rabbit hole here, but, the famous Toronto media theorist taught that media/technology is not just gadgets, networks, and services. To think these things are merely that is a very shallow and incomplete understanding. Media/technology changes both people and society (in both good and bad ways). Understanding media is understanding the environment you live in. Success, in any terms, seems more realistic when you understand the dynamics, cultural shifts, the level of technological determination, and the insidious and pervasive ways in which media mediates our lives.
I’ve seen musicians miss opportunities (leave money on the table), because they mis-understand the dynamics of new media and how people discover music, interact with artists, behave at shows, become brand advocates for certain artists, and ultimately become paying customers.
There are a lot of courses that teach “Music Industry Arts” and “Music Business Management.” I’ve had interns from these programs, looked at their text books and curriculum’s and I do think they are really great overviews of the music business, and they do try to include as much up-to-date material relating to new media and the music biz as possible. But, there is still an astonishing lack of emphasis and completeness on the type of understanding that I believe to be just as important, if not more, than lessons on mechanical royalties, record label contracts, copyright law (all things that are important, but there emphasis can lead you to believe that the curriculum’s are not exactly optimized for the music biz of 2014).
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you had to choose between studying media ecology (study of the modern technological environment you live in) and a course in Music Business Arts or Management…well if it were me I would choose Media Ecology. Music Business Arts/Managment can be picked up along the way. Its narrow in scope. Its focus is on the laws, logistics and best practices of the music industry. Much of that you can learn form books blogs and mentors. However a deep understanding of the environment you live in, the type of understanding that allows you to avoid doing dumb things (like repeatedly getting filmed smoking crack), may be more important for success.
Deep environmental and cultural understanding will inform your business decisions. It will help you formulate your strategy. And the intelligent use of new media tools will help you streamline and systematize your efforts.
Last thought, the thing about media ecology is you learn about what the true effects of media are (from which comes new cultural trends and behaviours). If you look at these things carefully you can sometimes predict what might happen next. The real effects of media (the ones scholarly media ecologists prove and discover through controlled experiments) is rarely what people think they are. This to me is fascinating. The real effects of media are not what we assume they are, and trust me we assume incorrect things about our environment all day long every day.
This misunderstanding and under-estimation of the power and the changes to our environment caused my new technology may be the biggest problem with human civilization today. It’s definitely Rob Ford’s biggest problem…well beside the crack smoking thing.
Print This Post