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Reflection on MACE

My MACE Experience

After studying for three years in Central London, my career perspectives were no clearer than when I first settled there. I came to London hoping that my experience will lead to me having a clear view of what my future holds but on the verge of finishing my bachelors in business management I realized I was far from settled on my career path.

At the beginning of the summer of 2009, at my parents insistence, I was looking for a masters course to apply for. I had enjoyed studying business but felt like I needed a more practical experience and was having second thoughts about whether I should continue my studies or start working. Moreover, during my bachelors course I felt like I had lost touch with my artistic side. I practically stopped painting, drawing or making music for three years, things I used to do frequently since I was a little girl up until my high-school years. My experience in the City felt pretty hectic, I had some great experiences and explored different sides of this cosmopolitan environment but I was unsure as to what it all meant for my future prospects.

Therefore, I knew I wanted art to be a substantial part of my studies. At first I considered studying fashion marketing because for a long time I through I would get into the fashion industry. Fashion design had been my first passion so naturally I was inclined to place the fashion industry as the first choice for my career. However, while writing the dissertation for my management course on luxury fashion banding I realized why I had been quite hesitant. The fashion industry didnʼt seem like my kind of party. I loved the creative process of developing fashion concepts and bringing them to reality and I was also passionate about certain brands but the more I learned about the fashion world the more it felt like something was missing. After all, my high school major as well as a large part of my management course had been about informatics, mathematics and physics. I wanted to be intellectually challenged in this way as well.

So I decided I would do what I set my mind to becoming as a teenager but always felt far fetched: be a music producer. I knew about Kingston University and that many creative subjects were studied here and when I read about Managing in the Creative Economy it seemed like the perfect course for me. I would finally build a bridge between my artistic, technical and business skills. Plus it would give me the opportunity to explore the town side of London.

I am happy to say I honestly feel like I made one of the best decisions I could make for my career. Just a couple of months in the course I felt really lucky that I was surrounded by so many creative people and the irony was that I was also learning how to really run a business, the two things I felt were missing during my experience in Central London. I have learned so much not just from my team mates but from all the students I became friends with in Kingston: graphic designers, music producers, photographers and film editors. In just eight months I not only learned how to startup a business in the creative industry, I actually learned so much about the creative processes involved. I now know what launching a website involves, researching data for the market you want to enter, how important networking is indeed and how art and entrepreneurship marry into a successful business.

So here is where I stand today in the GROW Model framework:

Goal

I want to build a successful business in the music industry. I am not sure what service or product this business would ultimately entail but I do know I want to create something which makes great use of the digital revolution and would therefore largely operate on the Internet. There has been much debate on the digital revolution in recent years underlining the need for new innovative business models (Kusek at al. 2005). My November blog on file sharing was a reflection on the research I had been doing on how the music product has changed. I honestly believe that one of the best ways to sell music nowadays and in the near future is through associating it with an entire universe. Avant-garde artists such as those behind the Gorillaz understand this and have developed an interactive Plastic Beach universe online as a result.

My future business would also be about innovative promotional methods. While working on the Mango Media project I carried out thorough research on what in takes to promote yourself on the dance music scene. I found out about sites such as peoplesmusicstore.com and jamendo.com which are great demonstrations of how the power of the consumer has risen. For my business I want to develop a user generated platform such as this one which would allow different creatives to work together on creating a universe online viewers can explore. My blog on empathy is actually about how different people can come together and generate a business idea using their cumulative creativity and skills. The task it to create a space where this can happen, a system that matches peopleʼs skills and business ideas.

The suggestions we made for the second apprentice challenge for the design company won us second place. I felt I did well in the presentation because I am very enthusiastic about the development of organic organizations and platforms which help creatives manage their work without exerting pressure on the direction they have to take. I have read much on how knowledge flows in organizations and why the hierarchical structure should be thrown over (Fahey et al., 1998). The new web, or web 2.0 is all about user- generated content, semantic networks and virtual realities (Aker, 2009) and I believe that these concepts will become critical considerations for the music business of the future. If I were to describe what my ideal future business would look like using business examples of today, it would be a cross between Second Life, Sound Cloud and The Creative Finder.

Reality

There are three set of skills I am developing in parallel in order to achieve my goal of setting up this interactive platform business. Firstly, I am solidifying my knowledge of software development and web content creation in general. Undoubtedly, the setting up of such a platform involves some substantial specialist knowledge therefore it is highly important that I find not only capable people, but also people who share my vision. Therefore part of getting developers to work together is understanding how to manage a workforce or work in a team. I posted a video on my blog about our Mango Media meeting not long after I joined the team because I felt like creating something which captured the team spirit. I would like to integrate this exercise in the organizational practices of my future business because I want individuals to feel like their work environment is their chance to star in their own production. I have learned about this type of concepts from articles on unleashing workforce creativity (Parker, 2001) and the changing nature of work (Jorgensen, 2005) or after having observes cases such as the Google workplace (Gruca, 2010). Up to this point I have a clear perceptive on how I would organize activities

undergoing the platform development, but I am yet to find the people I will work with and then of course, actually work with them. My experience with Mango Media greatly helped me with respect to this matter, especially when we developed our advert and website.

Secondly, I am increasing my knowledge of the music industry. When I conducted research for Mango Mediaʼs first client, Lifestyle Recordings, I familiarized myself with everything from broadcasters, distributors and retailers to promoters, venues and market trends. The marketing plan I developed for this label and plan to start implementing in the middle June under the Mango Media name has been posted on the blog.

Thirdly, I am improving my networking skills. I have communicated with many organizations listed in the Lifestyle Recordings report already and used that opportunity to evaluate my options for an internship. I have already arranged three interviews with different respectable companies operating on the dance music scene, which is the industry segment I am most familiar with. While doing the Mango Media work I researched the importance of emotional intelligence for creative management (Henry, 2006) and hot tips on networking in the music industry (Passman, 2008).

Obstacles and Options

It is highly important for me to feel like I belong when working in a team. These is a certain element which determines this in every team, the “glue” which keeps things together which is more an indescribable feeling than a behavioral protocol. It is hard to to develop a plan for finding people who you “click” with. After I complete the masters course I will live in Australia for two years studying sound engineering. My plan for the coming two years and a half is to find the right people and gather the funds I need to put things in action by working in the industry in a position which allows me to improve both my managerial skills and my musical expertise. I am quite sure that if I am to be successful in both these endeavors I will have to generate something very popular which will assure a following and an income. When I posted my reflection on the first apprentice challenge I discussed the importance of being innovative and to some extent shocking in the music industry.

I have considered using the platforms which already exist to establish a recognizable brand. One way of becoming a popular face within the music scene is having a popular blog. I have to admit that before MACE I was completely unfamiliar with the promotional power of blogs nowadays. I even have a few favorites I regularly read which are great examples to follow.

Another obstacle to consider is learning web development. After spending time with our team graphic designer I learned how to use Adobe CS4 but I still have a long way to go until I know how to set up a really good looking web site. Learning how to use this software is very time consuming, as with photo and film editing software. Nonetheless, there are many available tutorials on the internet as well as online communities which make learning now easier than ever. In addition, during the past half a year I have become an active user of various social media focused on bringing creatives together such as metamemes and The Creative Finder.

Probably the obstacle which will be the hardest to find options for is the difficulty in linking and managing intellectual property. The platform that I plan to develop will involve people sharing and using each othersʼ ideas. For example, let us suppose several people met on this platform and generated an online universe which helps the user find new music by

reading into certain choices they are given, something like an online oracle ready to “read your mind” and tell you what you are looking for. The success of this “online conglomerate” would depend on the volume of free music available, or even if not free to listen to, at least legal to use. Furthermore, it would imply that these peopleʼs ideas would be available for review so that they can find each other in the first place which runs the risk of being copied. Fortunately, intellectual property law has been undergoing some positive changes allowing more people to share their ideas under more flexible conditions as I have explained this in my February blog. This change has been discussed by many scholars since the Internet boom and the following quotation is a good statement for the underlying dilemma:

“To put it simply, do the existing set of regulations enhance the variety of approaches to new commercial opportunities or retard such developments?”

(Cranor et al., 2001)

Way Forward

The first action step I need to take is participate in carrying out the marketing plan developed for Lifestyle Recordings. This involves making sure the press kits are ready in time for the release and also shortlisting the industry contacts they will be send to. Over the summer my goal is to actively participate in helping an act gain industry attention and if I succeed I would have made the first step towards my career in the music business. The time lapse for this step is three months as seen in Appendix 1.

The second action step is using the networking and team skills I have developed to firstly identify the work environment I wish to be in (i.e. who I want to work for in the last six months in will be in London) and secondly meet more creatives with whom I wish do develop business prospects. I will have six months to do this in London and two years in Australia.

My third action step would involve being more active on the music scene. I have made great use of my time in Kingston to not only learn new production skills and improve my musical abilities, but also to develop my tacit knowledge of the music business. Direct experience and interaction with other individuals is the process which leads to the development of “personal” knowledge which can be made explicit and therefore communicated to others to a limited extent (Sanchez, 2004) and my challenge will be to further develop “the feel for what is happening” in the dance music industry on a global scale. I wish to do this especially in the coming three years.

My fourth action step is to set up a website by late june, therefore I have five weeks to learn how to use the necessary software, as well as familiarize myself with e-commerce. I am planning to take the Mango Media idea forward as well as launch a website for selling art together with one of my best friends.

I also plan to have an regularly updates blog on which I will discuss various subjects such as the dynamics of the underground – commercial music scenes. This is my fifth action step and hopefully I will manage this by October. I realize I will need to use as many viral marketing strategies as possible to assure a gradual increase in the number of viewers, which is why I will also update my other social media pages with my artwork.

Finally, with relevance to the first obstacle mentioned, I will do my best to keep contact with as many people as possible and engage in as many creative projects as possible. This action step is to become the ideal team player or creative partner and this task will take a lifetime.

To conclude, my experience working in a MACE team has tough me many unexpected lessons. I feel like the past eight months of managerial study and practice have done something more important that help me improve a specific managerial skill or creative ability which is helping me get a clear, holistic perspective on what I want to do for a career. For the first time in my academic life, I felt like I was significantly developing on all levels – creatively, analytically and emotionally – trough my study and direct experiences. I fell fortunate to be in the Mango Media team for many reasons. For once, Mango Media had already chosen to operate a business in the music industry before I even joined the team.

All the other members in the team have shared some very useful knowledge. I learned about film, sound and photo editing, about networking in the music industry, viral marketing and perhaps most importantly, I was introduced to some really good music, websites and art in general. During my bachelors I had to work in teams many times so that was nothing new to me, however working in a MACE team was different because the importance of being creative and sharing creativity was at the forefront of our managerial practice, whereas before I always felt I had to inhibit my creative drive to pace myself with other team members and the task at hand. Working for a project that gave me and other team members so much creative control was a great, but also challenging experience. I think the MACE course makes a good example not only of how creative management is undertaken, but also of how being a creative entrepreneur can be a personal liberating experience.

Appendices

Appendix 1


References

Aker, B., 2009. The Next-Generation of Business Intelligence. Semantic Intelligence. [Online] Available at: http://web2.sys-con.com/node/892846 [Accessed on the 5th of May 2010]

Cranor, L. F. & Greenstein, S. M., 2001. Communications Policy and Information Technology: Promises, Problems, Prospects. Sabon: MIT Press [Online] Available at: http://books.google.co.uk/books? id=qPpdyIycDfMC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

[Accessed on the 8th of May 2010]

Fahey, L. & Prusak, L., 1998. The Eleven Deadliest Sins of Knowledge Management. California Management Review [Online] Available at: http://www.comp.dit.ie/dgordon/Courses/ResearchMethods/Countdown/ 11DeadliestSins.pdf [Accessed on the 5th of May 2010]

Gruca, T., 2010. Peek Inside Googleʼs Workplace. WCCO [Online] Available at: http://wcco.com/seenon/Google.Silicon.Valley.2.372411.html [Accessed on the 8th of May 2010]

Henry, J., 2006. Creative Management and Development, Third Edition. London: SAGE Publications [Online] Available at: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Wi- BqBgm9n0C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false [Accessed on the 8th of May 2010]

Jorgensen, B., 2005. Attract, retain and innovate: a workforce policy architecture to modern conditions. Foresight. [Online] Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/ ViewContentServlet?contentType=Article&Filename=Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/ Articles/2730070503.html [Accessed on the 8th of May 2010]

Kusek, D. & Leonhard, G., 2005.The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution. Boston: Berklee Press.

Parker, S. K., 2001. Unleash The Power Of Your Workforce. AGSM Magazine, Issue 3, pp. 24-26 [Online] Available at: http://www2.agsm.edu.au/agsm/web.nsf/Content/ AGSMMagazine-Unleashthepower/$FILE/01_Iss3_Res_UnleashThePower_p24-26.pdf [Accessed on the 8th of May 2010]

Passman, D.S., 2008. All You Need to Know about the Music Business, Sixth Edition. London: Penguin.

Sanchez, R., 2004. “Tacit Knowledge” versus “Explicit Knowledge”: Approaches to Knowledge Management Practice” [Online] Available at: http://www.knowledgeboard.com/download/3512/Tacit-vs-Explicit.pdf [Accessed on the 10th of May 2010]

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My MACE Experience :)

Here is my reflection on the MACE course!

My MACE Experience

Lifestyle Marketing Plan

This is the marketing plan developed for Mango Media’s first client.

Follow this link for the PDF:

LIFESTYLE MARKETING PLAN

Has anyone checked the new layout? Seems our advice on reorganizing the website was indeed taken!

I personally felt very confused when we were given the assignment. I spent a significant amount of time just trying to get my head around what GRM TV were really about and why they were different, what their competitive/differentiation advantage was.

When I first got on the website I tried to understand what they had already covered. I saw the Los Angeles correspondent section and that immediately left a good impression, but I soon realized most of the bands were local Kingston bands (and very few of them indeed).

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I just had to ask myself : “Why did they not go all around London to find unsigned acts?”

It looked like their target market was very narrow, or better yet, they were in the very early stages of their project. I think it’s hard to come up with suggestions for someone that early in the process because how can you say for sure if what you suggest will seem far-fetched, or better yet, not ambitious enough? Plus if you are dealing with clients who you don’t know at all, it does feel a bit like hitting the lottery.

In any case, the topic was very interesting, especially for me because I have a passion for music marketing and all forms that do not fit the standard. Everything from the strategy adopted by the creators of the Gorillaz to Imogen Heap’s video blogs (the artist I suggested GRM TV look into) are pretty exiting! They all involve some original form of visual coverage of the artist and honestly … the possibilities for GRM TV are as big as the number of unsigned acts in London, and why not the world!

My main advice would have been to develop an original style of coverage and develop a system of identifying emerging acts in a way that engages the audience.

But how often to do dare to tell your client to do something extraordinary, something “guerilla style”, something like filming a band on top of a building while illegally rocking out?


Finding Clients :S

In our presentation, Mango Media described these 3 personas as possible clients: the Indie Kid, the Acoustic Singer and the House DJ.

So I asked the question where would I find all of them easily? It would have to be a place where unsigned artist would upload their information more than signed acts, or even so, those who are still more keep to share their music than to sell it. A place like:

JAMENDO!!!

The cool this is you can pick where your artists are from, so for example I can chose to see work published by UK artists only. There were 39 artists from the UK who are perfect candidates for Mango Media!


Copyright, Copyright, Copyright ….

I thought I would share this cute presentation with you:

So Creative Commons sounds really attractive, but I decided to find out exactly how much of a difference it made in the dissemination of intellectual property. I wanted to see for example how much Creative Commons or any such “new wave” copyright licenses made music popular with sampling artists available to them.

I found a site listing the available music databases with intellectual property under these licenses:

http://www.danosongs.com/directory/creative-commons-music-sources/

I quickly realized that most of the available content is from independent artists and almost no popular artists have their work licensed here. If you take The Beetles for example,  there are some very rare recordings which have never been licensed under copyright and therefore can be sampled, a random recording of a jam session, for example, but nothing popular.

No doubt that we can still make extensive use of these libraries licensed under Creative Commons or another similar license, however there is still a long way to go until we can just decide on on sample, search for it in these libraries and at least hope we can find it there.

Safe Creative (safecreative.com)  stated that “alternative formulas need not only to provide new features according to the Web 2.0 principles of communication, information sharing, interoperability and collaboration but also to protect creators and rightholders on the digital networks.”


Anyhow, there is thins thing called Wikipedia Commons which has content under other licenses other than Copyright:

You can see at the top of the page websites that support this type of sharing of intellectual property: flickr, blip, jamendo.



Shoe Experiment

PART  I

The five questions we asked everyone were:

1.Where did you buy your shoes and how long have you ve had them?
2.Is this your favourite brand ?
3.What sort of events do you wear your shoes at?
4.Did you buy your shoes because of needs, comfort or looks?
5.What is the your best memory with these shoes?

My favorites were these two:

1. Clare

The amazing thing about Clare’s shoes is that… well, they were 5 years old flip-flops!

She had bought them from M&S for very little money and wore them on holiday and at festivals even and still, they survived!

Because they are so plain, she didn’t seem very anxious to replace them, however she definitely doesn’t intend to as long as they are still wearable. It’s funny that because they were plain, black, old but still very resistant they had a classic feel to them that new shoes looking exactly the same wouldn’t have. I learned from Clare that if you have history with a fully functional product, it doesn’t matter how replaceable it is, you will, most likely, be reluctant to change it.

2. Mr Sleek

I don’t remember this guy’s name but he had a very old school 007  feel to him, he talked about shoes like he was describing his exquisite range of weaponry! I am not very familiar with the popular makes for men’s shoes, but I do remember him saying he invested over £100 in these shoes and that he had bought shoes far more expensive. Nevertheless, he pointed out they were well worth it because he had been wearing them at work for years and made a case of how important it is to always invest in quality shoes. He definitely convinced me!

PART II

This is the prototype of the shoe I made:

The Laser Shoe

We called it “The Laser Shoe” because it was designed to draw attention, emit light at different intensities and spectrums and present an”electrifying look”. The main need it fulfilled was thus to “look different”.

Mango Media Meeting Video

I could not hyperlink the video in the emails, so here it is:

File Sharing in The Music Industry

Hi Everyone!

I want to build a career in the music industry and since I know we are going to discuss pricing in our next class I have decided to write a small essay on file sharing and the music industry. It is a topic a feel very strongly about and in many ways in revolves around pricing because  what is really fueling the use of the file-sharing network is our reluctance to pay the prices that exist now for music. I have a theory about the way the money should flow in the industry and would love to see what you think! Hope you enjoy it!

Here it goes…

Before discussing the effect of file sharing on the music industry it is very important to understand the dynamics of this system. One of the main catalysts for change in the music industry has always been technology. We no longer buy vinyl record, or cassettes, or CDs even, we buy computer files: mp3s, iTunes and many other formats. Naturally, since we can consider these files occupy virtually no physical space, the easiness of transferability is extremely high. Therefore the only impediments to a never-ending replication of the files are intellectual property laws (or laws in general) and the devices through which the files are being transferred or replicated.

Having mentioned this, in an ideal file-haring system and one that everyone is plugged into, once an album is purchased or given to one of the members, all may have it within a matter of minutes. That means the revenue generated by that album would be its price times one and hypothetically this could happen if everyone only purchased and played tracks on iTunes. As long as they would have a file sharing system they could play all tracks purchased on ITunes by other users. Matter of fact we don’t even need a file sharing system since files can now be transferred in-between Apple devices.

If however the file sharing system operates on the basis of a regular membership fee charge and it would also assign a limited download capacity to each one of its users then the first dynamic that would change is the number of people willing to download the album. It would still cost them less to download it than to purchase it however and this is why many would be willing to increase their download limit and pay a higher fee.

So how would the record companies and musicians make some real money? Two ways: from iTunes and from the file sharing network which would purchase the rights to share the music files from the record company. The prices both Apple (or any other company that would overate a platform like iTunes) and the file sharing software developers would pay the record companies and artists can be established in different ways. On iTunes the prices are negotiated per album or song and the revenue is generated as a percentage out of the final price. In the case of file sharing there are several options. One, the developers, let’s call them X, so X would pay the record company a fixed initial price for the rights to share the files regardless of how popular the artist is. Two, X could pay this fixed fee and also a fee depending on the popularity of the artist. Three, X would pay a fixed regular fee which is renegotiable, but naturally there would have to be rules about how an increase and deduction in the fee is determined.

There is another hypothetical scenario to consider: what if iTunes and the file sharing network where combined into one.? In this case you could purchase and share an album at the same time, through the same software. Hypothetically an album would not be bough more then once since we are assuming everyone is connected. X can make all the albums that it had acquired the right to share available without purchase. However there would be the issue of albums it has not purchased the right to share for appearing in the network. If X managed to develop a network that would only allow those file to be shared that it has purchased the rights to, it would not have any legal problems, but file sharers may be unsatisfied. So is there a hypothetical solution for keeping everyone happy?

What if every album recorded under any operating record company would immediately be offered a basic fee by X. There is an ongoing debate agains file sharing especially since many claim that young artist find it harder to make albums, get that money they need to get started because record companies are cutting on they expenses. They claim not to have nearly as many funds to sign new acts as they would have if this business of file sharing wouldn’t “rob them”. But if this basic fee existed and was offered for any album automatically then the funds of record companies would increase substantially, and artists would get a shot as well. Once an album would become more popular that fee, since it would be renegotiated regularly, would increase accordingly. The entire industry then would not operate through price per album, but more like price per network entry.

There is one more problem to consider. Other network, such as torrents would still exist and since they have no membership fee people would still share music outside the legal system. Nonetheless, most of the music files that are currently being shared have poorer quality then the tracks you buy on iTunes. If X offered only CD quality tracks people would be far more inclined to share files only through X’s file sharing network. The question remains: how much do music consumers really care about CD quality? This is why I believe raising awareness for high quality sound is crucial in order for the record companies and musicians to make a case. One of the most detrimental effects of file-sharing has been low quality sound music and this can be counteracted if you give people a platform to share music that is only of high quality at a price everyone would be willing to pay.

Implementing the above scenario would mean money is flowing in different quantities to different parties. The effects of file sharing on the music industry have all occurred because people are basically not willing to pay the prices for music the record companies put out. What needs to be establishes is what consumers do want to pay, for what quality and of course, to who. At the end of the day it is the music that the system could not exist without, therefore it is only normal to make sure the musicians get the money they deserve for their music and the record companies for their recording and production.

Empathy…

The definitions available on the internet or the widely used descriptives of this notion all have one thing in common, I believe..  They all say it’s about seeing yourself in other people.

Feeling what they feel, thinking what they think and of course, sensing what they sense. Naturally, all humans operate on all there levels at any given point in time however the experience we get from consuming something, whether it is a product or service, may be about one level more than the other. For example, you buy a gala apple from Sainsbury’s which will be an experience you will rate mainly according to the taste of the apple. Thus it is more about what you sense, at least it appears so.

However, picture this scenario …