This blog is about music, my love for it, what is destroying it and what is making it better.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The End is Near: My Last Post

My blog went through two stages. The first stage came out of my experience over summer as an intern at Universal Music Group. The sub-par work experience left me with bitterness coming into the school year. This bitterness is reflected in the first post and to some degree, the second post. Writing has always had a purging effect on me and I believe writing a blog accentuates this. The informal nature of a blog allowed me to use it as a venue to get out my bitterness about my internship. The purpose of the first post was as a warning to my peers. The inspiration for writing about Paris Hilton’s new album came from my frustration with celebrities. I wanted readers to re-evaluate who the give celebrity status too. Continuing to blog in order to purge my frustration I then chose to write about my frustration with the RIAA. The association continues to sue music fans instead trying other less aggressive strategies. Posting about the RIAA made me think about the power of blogging. I was writing in response to other people who I had never met. Blogging allows people from all places to communicate ideas. As a communication major, I see blogging as a new frontier for people to communicate and share ideas. The first three posts constitute the first stage of my blog. In this stage, I used blogging to get out my frustrations. The last two posts allowed me to move beyond this purging effect. In the second stage I critic a site and a person. The site I chose was Metacritic.com. I chose to critic a site whose purpose is to critic because I thought that would be interesting and different. My overall assessment was positive has great content. The only downfall is that the site does not reach its full potential. For the last post, I wrote about why Bob Geldof deserves an honrorary degree at USC.

My experience blogging opened me up to a whole new area of the internet. I started my blog not really having a great background of how to blog. So I learned by doing, which is why I believe the final post in my blog was the most successful. With each post, I learned new things and it became easier for me to write cohesive blog posts. This was one of the strengths of my blog. I wrote about music which is a subject that I care deeply about. My passion and knowledge of music made the blog posts more genuine. People reading my blog should be able to recognize the passion for music I have. Writing a blog, gave me the ability to write about what I wanted which made the blog posts better. One of the main weaknesses of my blog was my passion for music though. For instance, when I wrote about Bob Geldof I did not explain a lot of his accomplishments fully because they seemed so amazing to me. To a non-music lover, some of his accomplishments may have seemed very average. I should have written more for the average reader then for music lovers. Lastly, I believe that writing about my frustrations in the first stage of my blog helped me get out my frustration. On the other hand, I may have used those posts to write about other more interesting things. The subjects that I did not tackle may have given rise to more discussion on my blog. For instance, I wanted to right about the future of the album now that digital single sales are on the rise. Overall, I believe I did a great job writing my blog.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bob Geldof: Is He Deserving?

A university has the opportunity to honor people by giving them honorary degrees. According to James Freedman, the practice of awarding honorary degrees goes back to 1692 at Harvard University. The University of Southern California continues this tradition by giving honorary degrees to people like Neil Armstrong, Frank Gehry and Robert Zemeckis. Bob Geldof the singer, songwriter, actor and political activist deserves an honorary degree at the University of Southern California. He deserves this honor based on the three motivations that Mike Martin defines in his essay, Meaningful Work.

Craft motives, to quote Mike Martin, are “desires to achieve expertise and desires to achieve technical skill, theoretical understanding and creativity.” He further explains that people experiences satisfaction when they achieve these desires. When they do not achieve these desires they experience shame, regret and guilt. In terms of craft, Bob Geldof is considered to be very accomplished in the music industry. As the music industry is very hard to be successful in, Geldof’s accomplishments are very great.

Bob Geldof’s career began when he joined the band the Boomtown Rats in 1975. The band became a vital part of the punk rock movement of the time. The Rats were very successful in the UK and had nine consecutive singles that made the UK Top 40. This is not easy by any means. Many of these were number one hits. Not only were their singles great but, the Boomtown Rats were also masters of making an album work as a whole. A reviewer from Allmusic.com, said about the Boomtown Rats third album, “The Fine Art of Surfacing bursts with florid pop genius, which in turn kept the Boomtown Rats from sounding like other new wave bands that existed at the time.” There most famous single, “I don’t like Mondays” is also on this album. Although they had great success in the United Kingdom, that same level of success could not be replicated in the United States. Many people may claim that in order to be a true success a band must make it in the United States. People opposed to Bob Geldof receiving an honorary degree may point to Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats lack of commercial success in the U.S. as a reason not to give him this honor as well as the band not withstanding the test of time. I disagree with these claims on many levels. The University of Southern California states that it does not matter; “whether or not they are widely known by the general public” The University is not giving honorary degrees to people only because they are widely known and resected. A band does not, even if many people claim it a necessity, need to be successful in the United States to be respected. There are many factors that govern a bands commercial success not just the musical skill of the band. Plenty of amazing bands don’t make it in the United States because of factors such as culture, timing, and advertising. As for the Boomtown Rats not having a lasting appeal like such greats as the Rolling Stones who are still listened to today, this is not a valid argument. Music is context based and when the context changes the music people listen to changes. In the future, the context may be suitable for the Boomtown Rats’ music to be listened to again and re-examined.

In 1984, Geldof co-wrote a single with his friend and guitarist Midge Ure. Created for charity, the single featured some of the great musicians of the time under the name, Band Aid. Some of the members of Band Aid were Phil Collins, Bono and Sting. The single, “Do they know it’s Christmas”, became the U.K.’s highest selling single of all time. Organizing and writing single with over 40 artists is no easy feat but, he also did it with less than a day in the recording studio. This takes talent and skill. After the major success of the single, Geldof organized a charity concert that may be one of his greatest achievements. The concert was called Live Aid and was actually two massive concerts held simultaneously one in London and one in Philadelphia. Many bands performed but some notable names were Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, REO Speedwagon and Eric Clapton. The event was a huge success and was watched by an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide. The concert was also a huge charitable success, raising an estimated 150 million pounds. Geldof also produced other worldwide charity concerts such as NetAid and the more recent Live 8. Both concerts raised money for poverty ridden areas of Africa/Bob Geldof should be praised for his ability to produce such world changing concerts such as Live Aid. Bob Geldof has also shown that he has acting skills. He played the main character in the critically acclaimed film, Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I recently watched the film and I was so moved by it that I watched many scenes over again.

Another aspect that Martin talks about is compensation, which Bob Geldof more than excels in. Compensation can occur in the form of money. Geldof’s wealth was estimated at about 30 million in 2001. This made him the 18th richest broadcaster in the UK. I disagree with Martin in the importance of this part of compensation. I do not believe that the amount of money you are compensated with correlates to how worthy you are to be awarded an honorary degree. Although, money can indicate success, it is not the defining factor. If the Boomtown Rats did not make money, would it make the music any less good? The answer is definitely no. This principle goes both ways. Musicians who make a lot of money are not always considered by the general public to be good. Therefore, although Bob Geldof personally made a lot of money, this does not make him worthy of an honorary degree.

What makes him worthy of an honorary degree is that he raised money for others. The charity singles and the charity concerts have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charity. Initially, Geldof hoped the charity single, “Do they Know It’s Christmas” would raise 70,000 pounds. The single ended up raising millions of pounds for famine relief in Ethiopia. The Live Aid concert raised about 284 million dollars for charity. The more recent Live 8 concert raised over 5 million dollars for charity. As Mike Martin says, “Compensation motives are not exclusively self-interested. They may be linked to desires to support one’s family or philanthropic desires to obtain resources in order to help others.” The compensation motives that help others are the ones that deserve to be honored. Being rich is not honorable in and of itself. Bob Geldof has been successful in his own right but, the reason he should be honored is because he has used his craft to raise millions of dollars for those in need.

Some people may say that Geldof wanted to help other people in order to help his career and become better known and prestigious. Critics of Bob Geldof will point to the release of his autobiography right after the Live Aid concerts success. The book became a best-seller. He also left the Boomtown Rats after the concert to pursue a solo career. Both of these actions make it appear that the philanthropic concert was more a good career move than an altruistic event. If he did it with the intention of strengthening his career, I believe he would not be a candidate for an honorary degree. The band Chumbawamba even released an album after the band aid single attacking Bob Geldof called, “Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records”. Bob Geldofs intentions could strengthen or hurt his case for an honorary degree but, people can only speculate as to what his intentions were. The queen believed his intentions were good enought to earn him knighthood after producing the concert. My belief is that it was a mixture of philanthropy and self-interest. He has a philanthropic personality, which the many charity singles and concerts he has produced prove. The singles and concerts are extremely hard to produce. Since, Bob Geldof would not earn anything directly from the singles or concerts; I believe his motivation for doing them would be to help others. The Live 8 concert was 8 huge concerts going on around the world. Bob Geldof also managed to bring Pink Floyd back together despite open hatred, yes hatred, between band mates. Someone who was less philanthropic than Bob may have done these difficult things for money compensations. Bob Geldof only did them to help others. I also disagree with people who claim that being philanthropic to gain prestige and money should disqualify him for an honorary degree because it should not matter what his intentions are as long as he is being charitable. His autobiography may have led people to be more philanthropic based on his example.

The last aspect that Martin suggests is important well looking at a potential candidate for an honorary degree is their morals. Martin explains that there are moral caring motives which are, “the desires to promote the good of clients for their sake”. He explains that caring about animals is important if you are a veterinarian. It is not important to musicians to care about the problems in Africa or to do charity. The reason Bob Geldof deserves an honorary degree from USC is that he has made it important, as a musicians, to care about these issues. So much of his professional activities are geared towards helping fix these problems even though his profession does not call for it. His drive to help others even though he does not have to is a fundamental part of the Universities Role and Mission. The statement says, “An extraordinary closeness and willingness to help one another are evident among USC students, alumni, faculty, and staff; indeed, for those within its compass the Trojan Family is a genuinely supportive community.” Bob Geldof already fits this facet of USC. People still concerned about his morals can look to his 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Nomination. Although he did not win, to be nominated is an extremely rare honor. He was also knighted by the queen for his relentless philanthropic efforts.

The issue of integrity can also be raised when looking at a nominee for an honorary degree. Looking at Bob Geldof’s history it would appear that he does not have the integrity needed to be honored so highly. An example of his lack of integrity is a comment he made after becoming an adviser on global poverty to the British Conservative Party and disregarding his allegiance to political parties. He said that he, “would continue to 'shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right,' in order to achieve results.” Doing anything for results displays a lack of integrity. Although, the ends may justify the means in the case of world poverty this does not mean a person should sacrifice their integrity. Although I don’t think Bob Geldof’s integrity is not great, I do not think it should disqualify him from being awarded an honorary degree. First of all, integrity is just one part of the equation. He has shown excellence in craft, compensation and he wants to help people. Geldof may not always do the right thing but he does it for the right reason. Second, Geldof is a rock star and rock stars are not held to the same standard of integrity as normal human beings. Their moral and ethical principles are completely skewed. Bob Geldof should not be held to the same standards of integrity and thus integrity has less weight in the decision to give him an honorary degree. Bob Geldof agrees with me that rock stars should not be looked at as having integrity when he says, “You can't trust politicians. It doesn't matter who makes a political speech. It's all lies... and it applies to any rock star who wants to make a political speech as well.” I do think that he would meet the standards of the USC Code of Ethics which says we should behave, “in a fair and honest manner, and [have] a commitment to respecting the rights and dignity of all persons” Bob Geldof would never go against this although, some of his behavior may be non-traditional.

If Bob Geldof were to give a commencement speech at USC I would hope that it would be for the Annenberg School of Communication. I believe that Geldof’s work is a perfect example of how music can communicate ideas and cause change. In his speech, I would hope Geldof would address how he believes that music is one of the best means of communicating change. More specifically, he would draw on his own experiences and explain how he thinks his music and concerts helped change the world. He would talk about his work with some of the most famous musicians and politicians of our time. Most of all, I believe that he would impart the message that the only way the world will get better is if we work hard together.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Metacritic.com: The good, the bad and the ugly

We all listen to music, watch movies and read books but, how do we pick our entertainment? One way is by looking at what the critics have to say. Although critics are often maligned for their opinions, they are one place the audience can look for advice about what movie to see or what CD to buy. On the internet, one place to find critics opinions is on www.metacritic.com. This site was nominated for a Webby Award in more than one category. Metacritic deserves this honor because it shows excellence in content, structure, design, functionality and interactivity as defined by the webby awards criteria. In this entry we will focus on the music section primarily.

The content of the site is very useful in making decision about what entertainment to consume. According to the site, “Metacritic compiles reviews from respected critics and publications for film, video/dvd, books, music, television and games.” Each album is given a ‘Metascore’ which is a weighted number out of a hundred based on the critic’s reviews. More respected critics are given more weight. The weighted system of scoring ensures that less respected critics cannot sway the score too much in either direction. For instance, the band RazorLight received a metascore of 62 even though it recieved severally more low scores then high scores. One reviewer from cokemachineglow.com even went as far as to say that, "Razorlight is nearly everything wrong with Rock and Roll today". The site does not give a score unless a certain amount of critics have reviewed the album which ensures a level of quality to the scores. This is similar to other rating sites such as rottentomatoes.com. The Metascore makes it quick and easy to make a judgment on a album and is one of the reasons the site deserved to be nominated.

The abundance of rated albums on Metacritic is only one reason it deserved to be nominated for a webby award. Other content on the site, such as the annual and all-time best list in the music section and the forum, warranted a nomination. Every year a list is compiled of the best reviewed albums from all genres. This feature gives a snapshot of the year in music like few other sites can. The all-time best and worst
list highlight the best music since the year 2000 when the site started making best of lists.
The discussion section of Metacritic is another part of the site that deserves recognition. The over 4000 members of the forum add content and commentary on the main feature of the site, the reviews. Forums are great places to get more information on all of the products the site reviews. The difference between this forum and many other forums on the web is that this has content for people to talk about. Many forums on the web stand alone without any content to back them up. Metacritics content is begging to be talked about.

Forums help fill in information gaps but, Metacritic has failed to provide its users with fundamental content. Such content would include basic information on the artists, movies, games, T.V. shows and books that the site reviews. The incompleteness of information is a major failing of Metacritic. Usually, only one or two sentences give the audience any context or information about an album. In the music section, there are sometimes links to an artists official or fan site but, not always. The only other information the site provides is label, number of discs, release date and genre. The Webby awards criteria states that good content is, “not just text, but music, sound, animation, or video -- anything that communicates a sites body of knowledge.” Metacritic is primarily text, with the only other content being pictures of the albums. One way to improve Metacritic would be to give small samples of the music being reviewed. Telling the audience the genre of the music gives only a general idea of what the music is. Metacritic has so much potential to be a one stop site for information about a myriad of products but, sadly it falls short on content. It should look at other similar sites such as rottentomatoes.com which offer readers previews and articles about the movies they review.

The structure and navigation of Metacritic is easy and intuitive. The sections of the site are structured into columns reminiscent of a newspaper. Every section has a spotlight review with a picture of the product. Underneath, the spotlight reviews are many recent reviews that can be clicked on. This makes it very easy to see what recently reviewed products you would like to read about. For even more recently reviewed products, one can click on the individual type of media. In each sections page, there are more reviewed products with accompanying pictures. On the left side of the music section there are special features such as upcoming release calendar and best of lists. There are also the metascores of many of the recent albums in a list format. This makes it easy to see at a glance what an album received. One key structural element of the site is that you can get to any individual media section from any page on the site. Every page has a toolbar with links to the other sections. The toolbar made navigating the site extremely simple and easy. The site gets you where you want to be quickly and intuitively.

The advertising and size of the page took away from how well the site was structured. On the top every page on the site, there is a horizontal advertisement which pushes the content of the site down. On the main page this advertisement has detrimental effects on the structure. In order to see what is being reviewed you have to scroll down. This is not that big of a deal but, when I go to a site I
do not want to have to see an advertisement before I get what I came there for. The structure basically forces you to see the advertisement. The site has many other advertisements which, I have no problem with. The creator of Metacritic have to make revenue but, should not do so at the expense of the structure of the site. Placing ads at the top of pages is a common trend on the web but, it does not always affect the structure of the site. Many sites such as allmusic.com and Spin.com have similar ads but it does not subract from the sites structure. Another problem with the structure is that the site does not make full use of the size of the page. In both Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, the site uses ¾ of the horizontal space. The extra side space could be used for an advertisement to replace the horizontal one on the top of the site which would solve both problems.

What a site looks like is an important factor when evaluating it’s worthiness as a nominee for a webby award. The award criteria states that, “Good visual design is high quality, appropriate, and relevant for the audience and the message it is supporting.” Metacritic.com is a very high quality site. All the lines and text are clear. None of the text or pictures look out of place. The yellow and blue color theme compliments the rest of the site. As a whole, it looks very professional. The design also is appropriate and relevant to the audience and message it is supporting. The website gives its audience reviews of products. Reviews are not supposed to be flashy or eye-popping and the site reflects that by being simple. The simplicity is appropriate because it does not over shadow or distract from the reviews. The lack of distraction from the sites design also helps make the site easy to navigate.

Metacritic is a very functional website. The sites search and advanced search features work extremely well. For instance, I searched for a band called The Futureheads. Not only did I get results for the two albums they have released but, I also got two other related results. One result was for the band Field Music, some of the members of which are also members of The Futureheads. The other related result was for a band called Maximo Park, which The Futureheads have been compared with. The advanced search feature lets you narrow your search even further by score, release date or genre. The webby awards judging criteria states that technology should be so well integrated into a site that it appears invisible. The problem that Metacritic.com has is that as far as I can tell, it uses little technology. The technology that it uses does run smoothly with the site. The site has never given me any loading problems on Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. It loads extremely quickly on both. One reason the functionality on this site is so smooth is that they have so few functions. This works as both a pro and con for the sites audience. Much of the audience will be content with the lack of functions because all they want is reviews. Other members of the audience who want more than just reviews will be disappointed.

According to the webby award judging critiera, “Good interactivity is more than a rollover or choosing what to click on next; it allows you, as a user, to give and receive. It insists that you participate, not spectate.” There are many ways that Metacritic.com allows its users a chance to interact. One of the major ways is by having a discussion forum. The forum allows you to comment on the reviews of the site, the best of lists and many other topics. The site actively tries to get you involved in the forum by including a section of the most recent posts on the bottom left of the main page. THis really helped me get involved because it was inviting and easy. Metacritic also allows users to comment directly on the review page and give it a score out of 10. When I wanted to speak out about an album, I didn't have to navigate the forum because it was right there on the page of the album. The average score is displayed next to the Metascore on each albums page. For instance, the Metascore for the album, “Return to Cookie Mountain” was 87 out of a 100 while the user score was a much lower 78. Another way people interact is through the discussion forum. People talk about all kinds of topics in the music forums such as there opinions on the best albums of the year and what artists is there favorite. For example, in a discussion about the best drummer of all time one user wrote, “One name my friends: Neil Peart of Rush, There is no substitute.” The point of this is that at Metacritic, the audience gets to critic just as much as the professional critics do. Another way the site allows you to interact with it is through the mobile notification system. I have never used these feature but they allow you to view content from your mobile phone or PDA. I believe it also allows you to comment on the forums.

Metacritic is a great site because it can open people’s eyes up to new music. The main criticism I have for the critic site deals with the nature of criticism. Some criticism is very helpful in making a decision on whether to buy an album. At the same time, criticism can lead people not to buy an album that they may have really liked. The weight you put on a critics opinion effects what you listen to. I for instance put a lot of weight on critic’s opinions. For instance, a review of the band Razorlights debut read, “Razorlight is nearly everything wrong with rock and roll today.” Although this was just one of many reviews, some of which were very favorable, I could not buy this album because of the extremeness of this review. My problem is that critics limit what I listen to tremendously. This limits the scope of music I listen to and does not allow me to listen to new things. People, who look at the site but, do not really change what they listen to based on the reviews, make the sites purpose null. The site helps people make decisions but, if you do not care about the opinions and are just curious what people are saying then the sites purpose is not fulfilled. In conclusion, the purpose Metacritic fulfils has its positives and negatives.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Illegal Downloading: The lawsuits continue but why.

When I am not crusading against Paris Hilton’s unjust celebrity status, I like to tackle issues that affect many music lovers, illegal/legal music downloading. I myself was once an illegal music downloader and find the string of lawsuits by the RIAA against music fans to be an unwarranted action. I commented on the American Constitution Society Blog, I argue that what the RIAA is wrong and unethical. The RIAA should not sue people but, should improve the means in which to download music legally. This leads me to my next blog comment. There has been much debate over whether or not ad-supported music download services will work. At the Tech Digest Blog, I lay down my case for ad-supported music downloads. I hope you find my comments interesting.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Paris Hilton: Fight against what is wrong

Paris Hilton seems to always be in the news. But why is she famous? Is it because she is the daughter of the family who owns the Hitlon hotel chain or because a private video of her with her boyfriend surfaced? There are probably many reasons for her fame but, none of them warrant her being famous. Her contributions to culture and society are not that great. Why does our society reward her for her actions? There are plenty of reasons not to focus on her. One reason is that she is a bad example for children and teenagers. She is a bad influence not only because of the sex tapes but, because of her behavior. For instance, just the other day Paris Hilton was arrested for drinking under the influence of alcohol. For pictures and more about the story, check out thesuperficial.com. She is constantly posted about on this site for her inappropriate behavior. Her influence on teenagers is what primarily bothers me about her. By given her all this attention, we are setting up teenagers to imitate her.

Luckily, there is hope in the future for our teenagers and for all of us who are tired of her. One reason to have hope is that her new CD was largely panned by critics. One critic form MusicOHM.com wrote, “The bits which 'aren't bad' are the bits which don't involve Ms Hilton.” Critics can say what they want but, it is really the consumer’s who dictate what is popular and good by how many copies of a CD they buy. According to the New York Post online headline, “Hilton’s CD is an Instant Tanker” In her first week of sales, her CD only sold 75,000 copies. This is considered lousy when you compare it to artists that are similar to her such as Christina Aguilera. Christina sold over 300,000 copies in her first week of sales. Paris Hilton could not conquer the music market like she conquered television with her show, “The Simple Life” Another reason to have hope is that not everyone is tolerating Paris Hilton and her bad behavior. One such person is Banksy. According to BBC news online, hundreds of Paris Hilton’s new CD have been tampered with by Banksy. He took the CDs and replaced them with his own remixes. He replaced the song titles with titles such as, Why am I Famous? and What have I done?. According to BBC.com, “He has also changed pictures of her on the CD sleeve to show the US socialite topless and with a dog's head.” I condone this act of theft and vandalism because I believe that the ends justify the means. He could not just say how he disapproved of Paris Hilton because no one would care. But, by doing something that is against the social norm he could be heard. I am not just overlooking his actions because I happen to agree with the point he is trying to make. Banksy has spray painted about issues that I disagree with him about. Banksy is famous for spray painting anti-wall pictures on the Israeli Security Wall. I believe the wall (fence) is idealistically unfair but, needs to be their as it protects people. I am glad that he sprays painted on the wall because both points of view need to be heard. Through his art, his opinion can be heard by many more people.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Unpaid Internships: The Travesty

As summer winds down and school begins, I reflect back on the last three months with a little frustration. At the end of last year's semester, I realized that, like many other college students, summer was a great time to get work experience in the form of an internship. As I began my search for an internship late in the semester, I did not expect to find the internship of my dreams. But when I walked into the office’s of Universal Music Group, that’s exactly what I thought I had found. I marveled at the platinum record plaques, the glass wall full of graffiti by some of my favorite artists and the general feeling of fun. To get a taste of some of the big names aritsts they represent check this out. The interview went smoothly as the interviewer and I talked about the current trends in music. The official title for what I was applying for was “Netreach Online Music Marketing Intern.” Walking back to my car after the interview, all I could think was, “Wow, I really hope I get this internship.” Two day later, I get a call back informing me that I got the internship. Little did I know that, instead of work experience, I would be exploited and would also be forced to exploit others.

The description of the job that I received on the day of my interview sounded pretty good. To give you a synopsis, what I would be doing is gathering information about what people on the internet thought about artists. I would be doing this by posting about artists on websites, writing album reviews and researching what people had said about an artist on the internet. The only downside it seemed is that I was not being paid for my work. The interviewer proudly told me, “that I would never have to get coffee because it wasn’t one of ‘those’ internships. After working there for a few weeks, I realized that the interviewer did not lie to me but rather, he hid the truth in a very subversive manner. The only whole truth he told me was that I would not have to get coffee. Let’s break down his job description. I did write many posts on an array of different types of forums and message boards. What he didn’t tell me was how I was going to be doing it. I was told to assume an alias and post as if I were a fan. In my posts, I had to link to the artist’s website, write all the information about the release of an album and most importantly, subversively acknowledge that I was affiliated with Universal Music Group. I could do this by saying using the acronym “UMGD” which stands for Universal Music Group Distribution. In the three months I worked, only once did someone actually know what that meant. I basically had to lie. Here's an example. I did post album reviews but, all of them were obnoxiously supportive of the artist. Most of the artist’s that I had to post for, I didn’t like and thus, I had to lie again. Lastly, I did research the opinions of fans on the web. I did this by going back to my posts about those artists and recording the responses that I received.

On the Universal Music Website, they describe Netreach, the division of Universal I would be working under, “as a full-scale online grassroots marketing company, offering third party promotions, search engine optimization, fan postings, and the creation of artist fan clubs.” This is a pretty accurate description of what the company does as a whole except for the fan postings part because unpaid interns are doing these so called ‘fan postings’, not fans. This brings me to my next point; music fans are being lied to and exploited. I, in slang terminology, am a shill. According to Urbandictionary.com, a shill is “A person engaged in covert advertising. The shill attempts to spread buzz by personally endorsing the product in public forums with the pretense of sincerity, when in fact he is being paid for his services.” I am not a true shill because I don’t get paid. In my opinion, what I am is worse. Many people recognize my posts as coming from a shill and simply ignore them or take them for what they really are, advertisements. It’s the people who don’t see these posts as advertising that I am primarily concerned about. I exploited their trust in order to raise awareness of artists and sell records. I have many issues with this and I hope to post how I dealt with some of them in future posts. Right now, I am alarmed at how this type of covert endorsements is spreading and changing. Today, I read in the New York Times that a senior editor of the blog, The New Republic, was suspended for anonymously writing rebuttals to readers who commented about his posts. This is very similar to what I have been doing and it alarms me because people’s trust is being taken advantage of all over the internet. Please be aware of who you believe and trust on the internet, people are trying to take advantage of you.