Sunday, September 14, 2008


One of the points I make in the draft presentation concerning the regulation of political music in the digital environment is that to overcome the silencing of this form of culture there must be far greater integration of discussion forums, Wikipedia pages and similar formats that allow for information to be shared with respect to political songs.

I was reading with interest only today that some digital media stores are attempting to do this. First it was eMusic that updated its site to incorporate Wikipedia pages alongside artist and album pages. In the past few days it has been reported that Yahoo is to do this as well and should launch an updated site within in six weeks. MySpace music is also integrating music into its site, combining advertising with streaming content in a social network environment.

These are all excellent developments and will certainly make some difference to the discourse surrounding music generally and by implication will assist listeners who seek out political music. It is not however the complete solution. There continues to be limitations which prevent an open exploration and discussion to take place.

eMusic for example only allows short samples of songs to be played prior to downloading, restricting the exposure of listeners to songs prior to selection. While eMusic will also inetegrate content from sites like Flickr, YouTube and Wikipedia, it has appears as though this content will be limited to that which relates directly to the artist.

MySpace music will allow streams of songs from user’s websites provided they display advertising. I wonder whether an artist will have the chance to refuse advertising, whether only songs that are deemed worthy by the advertisers will be used and how the store intends to deal with music that is licensed under a non-commercial use license.

True integration of music that would best allow political music to be heard would enable some grouping of similar songs by multiple artists that address a common theme. These sites whilst providing increased opportunities for discourse and exploration will nonetheless fall short of providing the basis enabling political music as a genre to find its feet – these approaches remain largely artist centric rather than issue focused.

To further enhance the opportunities for political song there should be a dedicated effort to cross reference songs with issues and to link artists together to form a web. I wont be happy until I can go from J.B. Lenoirs’ eMusic profile to his Wikipedia entry, then onto a Wikipedia page about the Vietnam war followed by an entry relating to music of that era and back into eMusic to get it without having to stop and search each separate step along the way. When we can truly navigate around these forums to gather music and information at the same time, political music will have a far greater chance of realising its potential.

This attempt at integration is fantastic but nonetheless is in its infancy.

Further Reading
Digital Music News, eMusic Makeover Starts Rolling; Album Pages First (22 July 2008) < > at 14 September 2008

Digital Music News, MySpace's Music Offering: Ignoring The Elephant In The Room (12 September 2008) <> at 14 September 2008

Digital Music News, Manic Monday? MySpace Music Around the Corner... (12 September 2008) <> at 14 September 2008

washingtonpost, Yahoo to open music to other services (11 September 2008) <>a t 14 September 2008

Digital Music News, Yahoo Music Starts Opening Up; Early Blueprints Revealed (12 September 2008) <> at 14 September 2008

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