Living for the Moments

Let's begin off topic.

I hesitated to share the link to this really informative article. It's from a new website publication called The Outline. I hesitated because the layout of the website; it't trying to be something groundbreaking when nobody asked for it to be anything else. Can it just be a great venue for the news because of its content alone?

Josh Topolsky, was previously both the editor of Engadget and The Verge, he came up with the concept. Currently I'm surviving off his tweets when he directly links to stories on his site. I can't be bothered navigating it.

Anyway besides that hinderance, here's the direct link to the article here, don't even try to navigate the site, you'll be cerebrally confused and visually paralysed for minutes on end.

The article itself is informative on the effects of live-streaming on performers taking ever increasing risks with stunts because of a willing, waiting and watching audience.

The fact people are watching in their millions is purposely pushing stunts to be ever more dazzling just for the views. The reality created by this new unquestioned type of audience participation has led to the deaths of some the individuals doing the stunts. 

That's the summary, read the rest yourself.

I found this story personally engaging, immediately because of course I live-stream as well. I can attest to this feeling and have gone out of my way to push myself to do things I wouldn't have done had I not been filming it in the first place. I'm entering a different world, a bubble with an augmented (my) self. So much so I feel uncomfortable if the phone connection dies and reality abruptly comes rushing back in.

In these live-streaming scenarios, I feel the audience is on my side and I want to entertain. I even walked into the ocean last week (the Vibrams I was wearing helped btw). I've been aware of this state for some time now because I know ordinarily what I think I'm capable of. Knowing ones true self though is already a large philosophical discussion and in short, I believe our selves are already changing. I guess in this situation, its doing more because its an extreme form of focus on the one holding the phone.

Case in point, I'm committing myself to a multi-year, live-streaming project exploring Hong Kong, because of my directly engaged and dedicated audience, this impetus can be both benign, inspiring and potentially a troublemaker. Before live-streaming I wasn't really trying to see everything Hong Kong has to offer. Now people want to be entertained I'm constantly thinking of new things to see for those viewers and importantly for myself. Quite rightly, the motivation is for me to explore Hong Kong for myself first and bring people along. Not primarily do it for fame, money etc.

I'm glad the article exists, it's part of an ongoing discussion I have with myself and where social media is taking us, it put into words something that I could relate to. I'm definitely going to read more on the topic as this medium matures. I hope people watching me can better appreciate me say I say, 'Live-streaming is life-changing'. 

Live Streaming Street Music Today - Part One

I'm not an expert on music itself, my engagement with music consists of buying one album from iTunes a year and avoiding everything else I don't have time for. I mostly listen to podcasts; they take up most of my listening hours. In this piece I'm writing about music's relationship with broadcast apps like Periscope and a potential level of success that can be achieved.

On the inverse as a side note, podcasting isn't suited for broadcasting on something like Periscope, the engagement has to be really well controlled to fit into a live recording that translates into an understandable product. 

Musical performances are however, suited really well and should be taken advantage of. Engagement isn't as necessary and the experience isn't as alien because everybody has music on their phone. I've noticed a behavioural trend, (mostly on Periscope, but it shouldn't be an exclusive experience) where streaming apps are connecting musicians to a more diverse and engaging audience.

As I watch many music related streams, I'm taking note of comments in the chat, the reactions and the willingness of individuals to want to give money, to digitally 'tip' musicians for such live performances.

People can tip via web services such as Patreon, GoFundMe or PayPal. Usually a broadcaster is sharing the musicians payment information in order to help and raise awareness of that's person's talent.

There has been many times in a live stream where someone commentating is telling the broadcaster that he/she is obligated to tip. There is sometimes a brief explanation that the broadcaster already has or will and then the chat dies down until someone else arrives late and makes the same request to tip.

The sentiment with tipping is being repeated without conflict in the chat. Oddly one of the few topics on the internet where people agree. It's being recognised that someone watching should. This is a very different attitude in real life, human behaviour is different in person and nobody is pressuring anyone else to throw some coin. 

I regard it as a new phenomenon that should be monetised and looks to be one of the few ways to monetise without any resistance, the positive recognition is there is very little overhead or disadvantages for musicians. 

musicthinktank.com on the 25th of February published an article titled '14 Ways Musicians Can Make Money from Live Shows'. Reading the article, you realise that methods 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 13, (if the musician is really adept) can be taken accommodated simply with a smart phone and a URL to a payment site. 

Younger street musicians should adapt and engage with potential new audiences in this manner. The context of a live street performance changes with a live stream being included in a performer's arsenal, capturing commuters and couch viewers with minimal extra effort.

In addition, discovery branches out when another broadcaster finds your live stream on their phone and decides to share the stream or when a musician meets another broadcaster in person and is looking to stream quality content of their own for their viewers. Not only is the output staying at the same amount for musicians, but the reach is multiplied to many more viewers with a willingness to tip. If there is another benefit that can be capitalised on, the second broadcaster standing in the street can also host an impromptu interview further changing the dynamics of a performance or take requests for particular songs.

There is no reason to hold back when approaching street music while keeping live streaming in mind. The resistance of people walking past unwilling to tip is countered by a second world wide audience who are viewing comfortably in their homes or on their own commutes somewhere else. Ironically they can be a larger source of income even though they aren't on the street and can't connect with the musician in person. It's more than likely easier and more profitable to fill the mobile space than the physical space as live streaming moves more into the mainstream. 

The Ridiculousness of it All

Its no secret iTunes is getting more ridiculous with each version, but as I try to claw back some level of interest in listening to music on the go and on my Mac. I'm finding the prospect of wanting to use it even more maddening and suspect. The irony in the user interfaces for both iTunes and the Music app for iOS and the Mac respectively is the rising complexity alongside the dilution of character in both apps and what made the individual parts stand out. For example the ever growing presence of the iTunes Store in my music library. They used to be separate experiences.

My first headache after a long spell with not wanting to transfer or listen to music on either of my devices was after I put my Beatles Digital boxed set on my iPhone. And I only wanted the Beatles on my iPhone because I figured having less music would make the app simpler to operate. I was wrong and I didn't get a chance to find out because when the music app loaded, I still found all my music cluttering up the app, because of the streaming feature available. Coincidentally the Beatles boxed set can't be streamed even though I actually paid for it.

If I did kill the Internet connection on my iPhone, I of course succeeded in nullifying access to the streaming option, but that's inconvenient because of obvious reasons like having no internet. I signed out of my music app thinking that would fix the issue. It does, but then Apple helpfully logs you out of all other Apple services in the other different Apple Store apps.

It's a losing fight I find myself in. I'm pining for the simplicity and experience of a dumb iPod again because of Apple's insistence on us using its services at the expense of the quality of the experience offered. I thought Apple sweated the details, or maybe they are sweating them, but just not in the user's favour.

I don't even have Apple Music, iTunes Match or use Apple Connect and it feels my music collection isn't mine, it did on the iPod and it did on the Mac before the software started bloating and turning against itself.

This whole music service and content delivery system is so needlessly complicated and stubborn and I don't even need to talk about the bugs. I don't even talk about music amongst friends and I've stopped buying music because I'm not listening to any. It's been all podcasts and the occasional SoundCloud track.

This isn't new information and if I'm having this epiphany, I'm positive the folks in Cupertino are aware of what they are doing. So while I want Apple to re-imagine iTunes (how long have we been waiting, only for Apple to go the opposite direction?) like they have done with Photos, can I find the simplicity of the service that I desire elsewhere? Something that just reads MP3 files.

I'll update soon.