Thursday, 16 August 2012

The iTunes Way

I wanted to create several posts about my progress with my research paper, now admittedly at this point I'm not very far and it is a problem that I have created for myself. Technically we still have over 2 months to complete the entire research paper, but the thing is I haven't researched that rigorously, I am going to start from today gathering new research and writing down the things I have already looked in the coming posts.

So now that I have a general understanding of my topic it's time to move onto refining my research question for the paper. My investigation started off with a general outline of what I wanted to do and how I wanted to relate my research to Apple as a company. Their ties to the music industry are the interesting part at least for me. I'm pretty ambivalent when it comes to Apple so I had to find a connection I could explore and still have some fun doing it.

My research question as it stands goes like this

The effects of iTunes on the state of independently published music since it's inception

Now I need to break this down :

What kind of effects am I looking at :

How published music has become a source of income to those who previously did not have the gateways. Single tracks have been made popular by iTunes and made good business sense even if the record companies are annoyed. Where previously one had to shell out for a full album to get 'that one song' now you can just purchase that one song on iTunes, quick and easy and DRM free.

I propose using a case study of a selected artist and how the digitization of music has mad his/her life easier, this will narrow down my search, I now need to find an artist that meets the following criteria:

  • Has several interviews/videos on the web
  • Preferably makes the kind of music that I like
  • Has something to say about his independence
  • Lastly if possible, make contact with the artist and ask them first hand about their experience and where they think the music industry is headed at this moment in time
The interviews don't have to pertain to iTunes because I personally think that it's obvious that Apple is the big player in the game. I also need to choose a research methodology

So there you have it, this is the route I want to go and no doubt the question will change, it seems a little broad to me so narrowing it down is a priority.

Also answering the following question is imperative : Why am I researching?

The obvious answer would be because I have to, you know, for school, so I can graduate and get my degree. There has to be something less obvious in there doesn't it? Well to answer it I'm going to have to choose a particular stance on the matter, who's angle do I want to portray in my research. I found some tip on choosing a research methodology:

This paper introduces novice researchers to the differences in philosophical perspectives and 
the major research implications arising from them.  It is our contention that research should 
not be methodologically led, rather that methodological choice should be consequential to the 
researcher’s philosophical stance and the social science phenomenon to be investigated.  
Several philosophical approaches are possible in the science of research, however we 
perceive that more extreme approaches can be delimiting.  We argue that only an 
intermediate philosophical approach allows the researcher to match philosophy, 
methodology, and the research problem. 

Alright so I have to take a philosophical stance, how do I view the situation. I've just had an idea - work this paper into a sort of stance on the changes and possible future direction in the music industry, so I will be using a qualitative approach, using a case study of an artist and his first hand opinion the effects of digitized music and it's availability.

Before I go into the core of the matter, I will no doubt have to explore the roots of iTunes and the niche that Apple found within the emerging market. Therefore I have to be looking at the cultural aspect albeit briefly, because it does tie into my research. Music is an integral part of a lot of peoples lives, it has a lot of value to both the consumers of music and the artists themselves. Of course it's not without those who wish to reach a celebrity status and simply have a mountain of money. So I want to narrow down the musicians that I want to investigate to those who find meaning in what they do, they do it for a purpose other than status or money but out of love for their craft. I'd like to think that I'm taking a post-modernist view on the matter, there is radical changes that have been happening, it's not an evolution or a progression, it's a shift of mediums and ways of thinking, a paradigm shift if you like. I want to take a subjective and humanistic approach to the paper and make it as academic and as easy for people to read as possible, there needs to be a mutual understanding, anyone I refer to in the paper should be able to read it and say whether they agree or disagree.

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