It is the second Monday of October, the banks are closed, no mail has been delivered, Columbus Day is not the holiday the city of Ithaca is celebrating. Instead, it is Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Despite being a huge fan of concerts and live music I usually steer towards big venues in NYC (the 3-hour train ride from Connecticut is always worth it) and acts that sell out shows in minutes. I’ve gotten used to being carried away in the gaudy performances and bright lights of expensive sets, forgetting that, sometimes, a local band at the bar down the street is just as good, if not better.
My first impressions of small music venues mainly come from what I’ve seen in Ithaca. I didn’t start exploring the local music scene until last year after watching a friend of a friend’s band perform at a neighborhood bar. The lights were dim, there were no fancy light shows or talented back-up dancers, and the stage was the tiniest I had seen in a while, but the energy was unmatched. Every band member was giving their all for each song, and the audience was eating it up.
There couldn’t have been more than 30 people total at the bar that night, but it didn’t stop the few who were actively there from standing right at the stage and dancing along. Even though the genre wasn’t a favorite of mine, I couldn’t help but join along. It was magnetic.
— Kalia Kornegay (@kaliakornegay) October 8, 2017
This experience made me realize how local venues are just as important as the big ones. Every artist needs to start somewhere, and what better place to train than smaller stages where they build up a real relationship with every single audience member?
In an article from BBC released in January this year several artists expressed their feelings on the importance of small venues.
“For local communities to have venues that aren’t in the interests of anything other than a community is so important – not only for the local economy but for local bands and up and coming artists.” – Declan McKenna
“They’re places that give everyone a chance. That’s the main thing.” – The Amazons
And, “That’s what really creates an atmosphere – is playing small, sweaty close shows where you can get up close seeing a band actually perform.” – You Me At Six
Every stage should be seen as important, no matter how small. By everyone from the venue organizers to the talent to the audience members. Without them we’d all be losing out on something bigger than we think.
The past two weeks have been record-breaking in terms of diversification on Billboard.com’s Hot 100 chart. The chart is the music industry standard for recording the success of singles and are based on physical and digital sales, radio play, and online streaming.
From the record-breaking summer Latin hit “Despacito” had I was hoping that the second half of the year would bring more milestones on the historic chart. Fortunately, my wishes came true in the unexpected form of “Bodak Yellow” by female rapper Cardi B and “DNA” by K-Pop group BTS. Let’s start with Cardi.
After signing with Atlantic Records earlier this year the Bronx-native released her debut single with the company on June 16. The “rap anthem of the summer” reached #1 on the Hot 100 the week of Oct. 7 after being on the charts for 13 weeks, beating out well-known artists such as Taylor Swift and Post Malone.
Cardi made history by becoming the second female rapper to reach #1 without any featuring artists. The last time this happened was with Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998. 19 years ago. Needless to say, this was long overdue.
Now, let’s dive into “DNA” by BTS.
The 7-member boy group debuted in 2013 with the song “No More Dream” from their album 2 Cool 4 Skool (nice) in South Korea. Despite not coming from one of the “Big 3” labels the group rose over the years to become one of the largest groups in the industry with a massive international fanbase. After making history as the first K-Pop group to win an award at the Billboard Music Awards 2017 they released the single “DNA” off of their full album titled Love Yourself: ‘Her’.
The album debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 and the single is currently sitting at #67 on the Hot 100. They are the second Korean act to land on the Hot 100 with Psy previously peaking at #2 for seven weeks with “Gangnam Style.”
With both Cardi and BTS, two artists who normally wouldn’t be associated with the other in any way, they’ve done something that isn’t normally done. They’ve challenged a system that rarely sees changes. The American music industry is dominated by big record companies and artists who have established followings and built up larger-than-life brands. For these two acts to disrupt the industry despite coming from humble beginnings is shocking, yet encouraging for musicians everywhere.
They’ve proved you don’t have to fit the mold to make moves in the music world. You just need to be good at what you do and put out a product you’re confident in.
- IC K-Pop Club (ICKC) e-board members Anika Verma and Jason Khan taught the choreography to ‘Hola Hola’ by co-ed group K.A.R.D
- Members were partnered up and were taught the first 30 seconds of the dance
- K-Pop is known for its intense dances and performances
- First time ICKC has taught dance despite being active since 2015
The spacious dance studio 4 located in Dillingham Center at Ithaca College hosted IC K-Pop Club’s (ICKC) first ever choreography lesson. E-board and general body members practiced in the space from 4 to 5 p.m. going over the first 30 seconds of the song ‘Hola Hola’ by K-Pop group K.A.R.D.
These days it’s incredibly easy for pop songs to feature multiple artists on one track in order to drive up sales. We’ve seen it in several chart-topping tracks this year and even in a skit from SNL. However, it’s not always a bad move, given you have the right collection of artists. While the songs I’ve mentioned above were solid in their own right nothing has yet to compare to the track ‘Cave Me In’ by Gallant ft. Tablo and Eric Nam.
Five chapters into Mobile and Social Media Journalism and I can already tell one of the main take-aways is to be as adaptive and flexible as possible. With social media being such an ever-changing and evolving beast of a platform being an idle bystander is self-destructive. There’s always a game-changing update, or new app, or new something in the digital world that can completely change the way journalists do everything.
While the current talk of the makeup world is singer-turned-makeup-brand-owner Rihanna’s new line called Fenty Beauty, there is even more buzz over the matter of inclusivity in the makeup industry. Specifically, the inclusion of more diverse foundation shades amongst luxury and drugstore beauty brands.
From this course I’ve greatly expanded my knowledge of what separates independent media from the mainstream giants. The main themes of holding corporations and the government accountable, being transparent with one’s audience, and holding oneself accountable in the wake of controversy stand out as some of the major differences between the two. There’s also the monetary aspect, where an outlet’s source of revenue greatly determines how reliable they are as a whole.
Another major take-away has been the politicization of American media, in how other countries are mostly transparent with their biases, whereas American outlets follow this pretense of “centrism.” CNN follows a general trend of trying to remain in the center of all major issues by inviting guests from both sides of the aisle, but fail to ever truly get to the bottom of any major issue.
In preparation of an upcoming (fictional) independent media outlet pitch it’s important to take note of the most important aspects of any journalistic start-up.
- Finding a niche market that is either being under-reported on, or that does not have any reporting done on it. If a possible market is waiting to be explored, find it and cover it.
- Have more than one source of revenue. Depending on one source, like a corporation or wealthy backer, could spell disaster down the line in the form of that person/group controlling content.
- Believe in the power of crowdsourcing. Once a loyal readership has been established an indy can possibly rely on them as a solid form of income while also keeping a steady base. This is seen in the cases of The Young Turks and DemocracyNow! amongst many others.
- Exist on more than one platform. In this day and age consumers like content that is multi-platform in order to cater to different needs. Using TYT as an example, they have a website, a live stream on YouTube, and a subscriber-only podcast. This ensures viewers have access at all times to their content, which allows viewers to feel a sense of inclusiveness with what’s going on.
These are the main take-aways from both the readings and course discussions about the topic. While I am not currently sure how far my pitch will go in terms of application (as my long-term goal is to launch a start-up of my own one day), but the lessons I’ve learned from this course have definitely taught me much about what to expect of the industry going forward.
One of the challenges that comes with being an independent, political blogger is that, if one’s story picks up enough attention, it’s the equivalent of painting a giant target on said blogger. In the case of journalist Matthew Lee, who one day in 2008 discovered that his website Inner City Press had disappeared from Google search results, experience censorship from the U.N. After posting several critical blog posts courtesy of numerous U.N. whistleblowers Lee became a major target for the U.N. He received the news that his website had been taken off of Google News in the form of an e-mail saying that his website violated policy.
As soon as he read it, Lee immediately suspected one thing: That someone at the UNDP had pressured Google into “de-listing” him from Google News — essentially preventing Inner City Press from being classified on Google News as a legitimate news source and from having its stories pop up when someone conducts a Google News search.
– Fox News
In time Google restored ICP’s status on search engines, but never revealed who had filed a complaint against the site due to “privacy concerns.” It is cases like this that speak volumes about the overall feeling of untrustworthiness that surrounds sites like Google. The amount of power it holds when it comes to which sites receive attention and clicks is massive, which also means its’ ability to silent and censor certain voices is also very powerful.
On Phakyul.com’s article titled “Dissident Chinese professor to sue Yahoo! and Google for erasing his name” a similar incident happened with former Chinese professor Guo Quan. Quan alleged that Chinese Yahoo and Google had blocked his name from search results after he founded a democratic opposition party.
He told The Times that he had now found that the Chinese Yahoo! site had also blocked his name and he planned to bring actions against both companies. Mr Guo said: “Since January 1 a lot of friends told me that websites with my name had been closed. They told me it’s impossible to search for my information on Google and Yahoo!”
– Guo Quan
After reading about this story I was immediately reminded of a similar situation where BBC visited an independent candidate in China’s 2016 election and the reporters were prevented from physically seeing and speaking to the person.
In both instances the force China’s one-party system manifested itself as a block against information against those they labeled as a threat. In the previous article Quan said that foreign companies like Google should not bend to the will of China as the internet should be free and open to everyone. In the case of the above video from BBC the reporter returned to the home of the candidate a week later after the election and, when asked a question about how she felt about being censored, refused to comment on it due to fear of increased backlash from the government.
Quan wrote in an open letter, “To make money, Google has become a servile Pekinese dog wagging its tail at the heels of the Chinese communists.”
This is not what the internet should be. Access to information should not be reliant on shadowy, government figures who block facts to protect their image. The suppression of political ideologies and criticisms of higher powers is not normal in any society and should no longer be tolerated or brushed aside. Search engines like Google and Yahoo need to be held accountable for their actions, but it is doubtful that that will truly happen. The most one can hope for as an independent journalist under attack is that other reporters will come to one’s aide and bring attention to the issue. After all nothing can change is no one knows about the issue.