Monday, April 5, 2010

European Music, Fashion & Reality TV

by Jenny Seo

Daft Punk, the most influential French electronic team have demonstrated that French music can have a global reach

European music options include a number of influential French radio stations above such as FIP, Nova and France Culture. Below Eurovision and Fete de la Musique are annual music events. See the 2009 Eurovision winner here.

Papathanassopoulos: 10. More Music Television Channels, pp. 214-226.

AUTHOR BIO: Stylianos Papathanassopoulos is the Professor of Media organization and policy at the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies - National and kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA). He is currently the Head of the Faculty and a member of the Board of the Hellenic Audiovisual Institute. Previously, he was Deputy Director of the University Research Institute of Applied Communication (URIAC) and Deputy-Head of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies. He is also a member of the Euromedia Research Group and he was a member of the research project “Changing Media-Changing Europe” funded by the European Science Foundation. He has written extensively on European and Greek media, with particular reference to the development and impact of news media.

CONTENT: In Chapter 10 of European Television in the Digital Age, Stylianos Papathanassopoulos dives into an overview of “More Music Television Channels.” Papathanassopoulos notes how television has become the dominant medium for the dissemination and promotion of music and its artists. Furthermore, he highlights the importance of music and it’s key role in setting the mood and tone of programming on television. He articulates how music television is a hybrid of two contrasting forms of revenue generators: content provision and distribution. Thus, the main point of the chapter looks at the development of music channels and the intense competition in European Music Television.

Watch an MTV Europe commercial. Click here to see a review of the MTV Europe awards, a good example of media imperialism as the majority of the winners are American. To watch the German Viva click here.

His key example is MTV, Music Television, originating from the United States on August 21, 1981. MTV offers original programming such as special events and television shows, but the music video is still its core feature. He states how it was this cable music service, MTV, “which began with a relatively modest budget and an even more modest viewer base, (215)” which allowed the rise of the up and coming music television industry. MTV was the influence which permeated throughout Europe which bred other international groups – including MTV Europe, MTV Brazil, MTV Japan, and MTV Latino.

In the beginning, MTV reaped free benefits when record companies would give free products away in efforts of free television promotion. However, things have changed and the record industry realized the importance of pop videos not just for its own company profit but to the other various media outlets. The most serious challenge facing MTV, Papathanassopoulos says,” was the news that record companies were to join forces to set up music channels in key European markets (218).” The rise of European music television industry expanded because European broadcasters wanted to balance the dominance of the Anglo-American repertoire on MTV and also offer local feed.

Localization, restricting and assigning a product in this case the music content, was not an effective strategy in diminishing the strong impact MTV has on the European market. “MTV in Europe is still dominated by Anglo-American artists, and even more by the use of English in songs, even though there is more diversity in the languages in which the programmes are hosted (219).”

MTV’s strategy was to combine a global presence with a single brand with a product that could be distributed for separate regional markets. Regionalization throughout the various countries in Europe was the answer. A regionalized operation meant more local music, live events, and national news. Thus, MTVE, MTV Europe, created four separate services, MTV in the UK, MTV Central, MTV Southern, and MTV Nordic. This regionalization strategy was to make MTV more flexible towards to the programmes offered to its global and international audience.

Viva was founded, in Germany, in 1993 by four multinational record companies: Warner Music, Sony, EMI, and Polygram. Viva was MTV Germany’s biggest competitor but is now owned in majority by MTV. Viva is split into two channels called Viva and Viva Zwei. Viva is targeted at young viewers while Viva Zwei is targeted at the older population. In France, there are three contemporary music channels: MTVE, MCM/Euromusique and Muzzik. MCM, being the most popular, sold to the audience because 50 percent of the total content offered was devoted solely to French music.

Papathanassopoulos concludes the chapter by examining the future of music. He notes how the online revolution is churning the music television industry with its broadband and quick Internet access. However, as the media history has shown, every new medium that comes along, rather than taking away, these new mediums, whether it be radio, television, the internet, provide for the increase of music distribution.

Bosma, Josephine. 12” as Medium. pp. 400-402.
AUTHOR BIO: From 1991 until 1998 Josephine Bosma worked with the independent station Radio Patapoe in Amsterdam and also with VPRO radio, a Dutch national broadcaster. Since 1993 her focus has been on media art and media theory and she has published numerous interviews and essays in book collections and in magazines including Mute (UK), Telepolis (D), UHK (NO), and Switch (USA). She played a key part in organizing the radio part of the Next 5 Minutes 2 and Next 5 Minutes 3 festivals, and has edited the streaming media sections of the nettime book, ReadMe and the N5M3 workbook. In January 2001 Josephine initiated the newsletter for net art criticism, Cream. Josephine Bosma lives and works in Amsterdam.

Kraftwerk, Germany's early electronic leader that produced experimental sounds to be remixed by DJs

CONTENT: Josephine Bosma introduces this reading highlighting a recognizable shift in the field of pop music. There was a shift in the infrastructure, in the role of the musical medium, and in the cultural ratio of author-to-composition. She provides the example of the Techno phenomenon in Germany as a case study. Techno represented a music denied of any cultural or political relevance because it was only “technology” not humanity, which was expressing itself. “To the music industry, Techno was something that had made itself dependent on vinyl, and more precisely the 12” – a medium with no future, long regarded as dead (401).”

Techno lacked in two forms in its infrastructure, its definitive significance and its economical funding. Before the rise of techno, music culture depended on the backing of the music industry’s infrastructure, which includes studios, record companies, and concert promoters. However, techno finds itself leading a completely different role. Techno is independent, “in its role as an industry outsider and as manufacturer of its own infrastructure, finding itself in the remarkable position of actually profiting from its accomplishments and retaining its independence (402).”

The best selling, "most remixed" 12" Blue Monday above

For most music genres, the album and recording studios highlight its fame and luster. However, with techno, the 12” medium of vinyl transports the musical innovation of music. While, artists struggle in the long process of creating a single or an album, the 12” is the DJ’s core tool of production. The 12” vinyl medium is why techno seems to be able to create its own path and uphold its own set of rules, says Bosma.

Techno’s artistic position is created by the self-constructed infrastructure and the 12” medium. In Techno, names are irrelevant. The music does not represent the artist behind it, but rather the center of attention is solely on the music itself. This breaches into reflecting on music as a part of society.

Daft Punk above are some of the most recognized electronic performers in the world, serving as evidence of the European influence on music and the role of music media other than the pop charts

Fashion Media

Fashion media varies form fashion magazines, to television to blogs. Below Michel Adam founder of Fashion TV also hosts yacht events and cruises that some believe compromises the integrity of the media. Click here to see their footage of Carla Bruni.

Two famous reporters on the French scene left Suzy Menkes for the International Herald Tribune and right Olivier Zahm for Purple.

McRobbie, Angela. In the UK: Fashion as a Culture Industry.

AUTHOR BIO: Angela McRobbie is a Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has written extensively on young women and popular culture and about making a living in the new cultural economy. McRobbie is the author of The Uses of Cultural Studies, In the Culture Society, British Fashion Design Rag Trade or Image Industry? as well as of numerous articles and essays. Her upcoming book Gender Culture and Social Change: the Post-Feminist Masquerade traces the distinctive values which emerge from within the shift towards a more pervasive neo-liberal culture and unravels the processes by which feminism appears to be taken into account, but only so that it is also undone.

CONTENT: Angela McRobbie introduces the article by giving a brief overview of Britain’s infrastructure. The UK wanted to escape from its stereotypical image and move onto a fresh new young image. It was eager for social change, and the key holders to this right of passage and social transformation were the young people. The agenda was to centralize and focus on the arts and culture industry. There was a national urge in the topic of promoting the arts and culture.

The British fashion scene is sometimes seen secondary to Paris but since the 1960's when the film Blow Up sensationalized London there has been a spotlight on it. Above clockwise Brits Gareth Pugh, Agnes Dyne and photographer Nick Knight.

McRobbie’s main focus is to offer the issues, which make it difficult for fashion designers to sustain both recognition and success and what this poses for fashion in the culture industry. She then implements this view and its effects for the overall governmental policy. Bosma emphasizes how the infrastructure of support for the new culture industries, which includes fashion, comes from the public sector. She offers many questions in concerns for the young creative artists and designers highlighting the questionable careers the government has paved for them.

Bosma introduces the rise of the art-school-trained fashion designer and the field of fashion and how fashion design was a resolutely feminized field. While it was a feminized field, there was a clear gender dynamic and questionable feminine degradation in the fashion industry.

See the last year's Central Saint Martins grads here

Bosma mentions the sociological demystification of the fashion industry and how there are many ambiguous answers revealed about rising to become a top designer. She notes how there is a great emphasis on networking and creating connections to get started in the fashion world. Furthermore, while fashion design implements creativity, Bosma notes the redundant and sad truth that while designers, “saw themselves as led by inspiration, ideas, intuition, and dreams; they knew they had to sell a look and a combination of ideas (259).”

Fashion design’s model of success hung around the notion of competitive individualism. “There was a rigid hierarchy and whole set of rituals of deference and authority in relation to the high-powered fashion leaders, the key journalists who were able to make or break careers, the ‘prima-donna’ designers who had made it to the top, the carelessness in regard to ensuring good working practices (260).” She mentions the yBas, Young British Artists, and how it was possible for them to produce their own shoes and pull their own resources to defy against from the traditional road to success.

Young British Artists or YBAs is the name given to a group of conceptual artists, painters, sculptors and installation artists based in the United Kingdom, most (though not all) of whom attended Goldsmiths College in London. Leading artists of the group are Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

However, most artists and designers Bosma interviewed lacked the resources and kind of support that many were exploited by middlemen and production companies. Sociologist Ulrich Beck called fashion design, risk work. Fashion design was called risk work because for many, the future was very unclear and unstable for young designers. Bosma points out two issues in which were: most designers were independent and worked on a small scale and second the lack of funding and the extent to which their personal economy could stretch.

However, a new model is emerging. “The other solution is that the chain store will step in, offering contracts to star designers to produce collections under their own labels but for the mass market (262).” While this may not be the most glamorous vision, it marks the fashion design field safe for some young designers.

Alexander McQueen, graduate of Central Saint Martins produced provocative ad campaigns selling ideas rather than clothes

Frau-Meigs, Divina. Big Brother and Reality TV in Europe: Towards a Theory of Situated Acculturation by the Media.

AUTHOR BIO: Divina Frau-Meigs, a Fulbright scholar, is professor of American studies and media sociology at the Université Paris 3-Sorbonne, France. With degrees from the Sorbonne University, Stanford University and the Annenberg School for Communications (University of Pennsylvania), she is a specialist of media and information technologies in English-speaking countries, in a comparative perspective. She is also a research associate with CNRS. Her other activities include being editor-in-chief of Revue Française d'Etudes Américaines (RFEA) and a member of the editorial board of MédiaMorphoses (INA-Colin). She has published extensively in the areas of media content, information and journalism, the technologies and sub-cultures of the screen and the relationship between media and technologies. She is currently working on issues of cultural diversity, acculturation, media education and e-learning in a global perspective.

Big Brother is a system of always watching those in the house. Clic here to see two contestants caught in a fake romance and a Big Brother special here.

CONTENT: Divina Frau-Meigs dives into this reading on the topic of acculturation in the media sector. Acculturation is the assimilation of a different culture, typically the most influential dominant one. She uses the television show Big Brother as her main case study. She splits the image of acculturation through media by three filters.

The first filter “makes a matrix of Anglo-American origin acceptable by editing out angst, around basic core values, like individualism, competition, profit, presentism (51).” The second filter, “in broadcasting, aims at making people accept the commercial audiovisual systems (51).” The third filter “shows a variety of strategies that vie or contend the values that are being transmitted by reality programming (51).”

Frau-Meigs gives a brief overview of the hybrid programme, which is a combination of game show, talk show, soap opera, and docudrama, and its invasion on European screens since the late 1990s. She defines the acculturation process as an explanation of domestic change after foreign contact, often implying an asymmetrical relation, with underlying economic and cultural power struggles. She notes how this term is frequently associated with the export of American products, which raises concerns about Americanization and the perceived threat of cultural imperialism.

Interculturation is the voluntary process of adoption rather than the unbalanced power relations associated with acculturation. The significance of reality television is that it can transfer new values and cause a weakening of national values. Reality TV programmes create concerns that the audiences react to moral values inserted within the imported formats and messages.

The first filter emphasizes how these reality programmes blur not only the “distinctions between national cultures but also the distinctions between the adult and adolescent worlds (39).” Bosma notes how they adopt trappings of youth culture and feminine cultures, which turn out to be the one and the same culture. Power is very minimal to the participants on the show, as most of the power is in the hands of the producers, broadcasters, and sponsors.

The second filter gives an example how television conforms to the expectations concerning national preference and identity recognition. Television is not a good medium for intercultural exchanges because it is its own self-preserving system. It conveys stereotypes and keeps them in constant circulation.

The third filter highlights how the receptions of these reality TV programmes reach mainly the women and young people with little education. Surprisingly, the youth culture age is more transnational than expected. There are two reactions towards shows like Big Brother, either support attended by identification or on the other, suspicion attended by criticism.

France's most popular reality show, Loft Story

More prominent than reality television however, France have over 600 talk shows. On n'est pas couche is a late night show that focuses on celebrities. Click here to see a comparison to American talk shows and here to see a Madonna impression by a French comedienne.

1 comment:

  1. Now that television is switching over from primarily ad-driven sponsorship to pay-per-view sponsorship, there is an increase in a new kind of TV viewer; one that does not care to sit through ads, and craves smarter, more personalized content. “…television audiences, particularly pay-TV audiences, have become increasingly complex and fragmented, demanding greater choice and control over the types of programmes they watch…As thematic channels have increased their market appeal, many digital operators appear to accommodate them in their digital offering” (Papathanassopoulous, 153). With the start of HBO in the United States, followed by the popularity of French network Canal Plus, edgier content, independent films, and backstage access have helped to revive the U.S. and European television landscape. Like the launch of HBO did for the U.S. in 1972, Canal Plus raised expectations for French television and brought the French film industry to new heights with generous financial support since its beginning 12 years later.