Immersive music, future of movie-making, digitising books, & more

The Matrix 4 was announced this week. Whoa! While we eagerly wait for that, let’s immerse ourselves in the latest culture-tech news…

What You Need To Know 👀

  1. Universal Music Group (UMG) to develop immersive music experiences 🎸

Music Business Worldwide reports:

Universal Music Group (UMG) has entered into a partnership with Dakia Global Enterprise to develop a new “music-focused experiential hospitality category”.

Under the agreement, the companies will create immersive music experiences.

These include premiere hospitality, lifestyle club, live entertainment and “next-generation retail”.

My take: This week’s Cybercultural feature article was about how interactive media is emerging as a key part of the cultural industries. The above news from UMG is an example of some of the experiments beginning to happen, in this case in the music sector.

Dakia appears to be an investment company, with one of its projects an “experiential hospitality platform.” What does that mean though? The Dakia website is vague and throws around nebulous terms like “music cities.” After googling the phrase “experiential hospitality,” I was pointed to several articles about luxury hospitality – including one that had an image of a Marriott hotel customer wearing a VR headset. So maybe UMG will end up doing some kind of live VR event at a fancy hotel. Who knows, but it’s interesting to keep track of these experiments in interactive media.

  1. MovieLabs and Hollywood studios publish white paper envisioning the future of media creation in 2030 🎥

While I was researching the interactive media article, I came across a new report from MovieLabs (“a nonprofit technology research lab jointly run by Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Pictures and Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment.”). Curiously though, the report does not discuss interactive media:

“Our scope focuses on scripted, non-interactive entertainment TV and movie content and is therefore not aimed toward video games, live events, game shows and other non-scripted experiences that have different content creation requirements and workflows – although we recognize that many of the key principles carry over into those use cases.”

My take: If anything is going to change movie-making by 2030, surely it’s interactive technologies such as VR, AR and the immersive storytelling familiar in popular online games of today. Instead the report focuses on humdrum workflow trends such as “all assets are created or ingested straight into the cloud and do not need to be moved.” So, an opportunity missed by MovieLabs.

  1. Internet Archive pushes ahead with digitising books (whether authors like it or not) 📚

The Internet Archive is running a series of blog posts “highlighting how libraries and publishers are addressing the challenges of providing digital access to materials in their print collections.”

“Since 2004, Internet Archive has partnered with more than 500 libraries to digitize and make accessible nearly 4 million books, most of which are in the public domain and therefore easily published online without restrictions for use or reuse.”

My take: The Internet Archive follows a process called “controlled digital lending” (CDL), to try and avoid copyright infringement. It makes the books it scans available via the Open Library. However, this practice hasn’t pleased the Authors Guild, which claimed in January that CDL is “an incorrect interpretation of copyright’s ‘fair use’ doctrine.” A follow-up post said that “a massive number of in-copyright books, some quite recent, are available in Open Library, as well as through the Internet Archive itself.”

Indeed, in my own tests I was able to find several copyrighted books that I could download – albeit in relatively poor quality, compared to a paid-for ebook version on the likes of Amazon. While I love that the Internet Archive makes out-of-copyright books available as ebooks, let’s hope it addresses industry concerns around CDN in future blog posts.

  1. Music journalism has an access problem 🗞️

Jeremy Gordon writes in Columbia Journalism Review:

“Currently, however, a glut of digital publications struggle for access to artists who retain a greater degree of control over their narrative, with the help of an expanding field of publicists. Escalating traffic demands have pushed music publications toward a celebrity-driven model, catering to readers by covering artists who are already popular and focusing the rest of their coverage on others with the potential to become famous.”

My take: The problem of “access-driven music journalism” sounds depressingly familiar. The same issue occurs in the field of journalism I’m most familiar with, tech reporting. It’s the big companies – Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, et al – who dominate coverage in news media and on social media. Getting access to “people familiar with the matter” in those companies is what tends to drive page views and engagement in tech publications. It leaves startups and niche media publications alike struggling for traction. Much like the non-celebrity musicians and niche music websites mentioned by Gordon.

Good Reads 👓

Here’s a quick list of articles I’ve enjoyed reading recently:

Tweet of the day 🐦

Loved this take on why media coverage of podcasting usually sucks:

That’s the Friday update, hope you found it useful. See you next week and thanks for your support of Cybercultural. 🙏