Category: bbc radio 4

“The internet is a devastating wasteland”: How…

“The internet is a devastating wasteland”: How social media could be making musicians sick:

Making and sharing music has never been more accessible than it is right now. Even as listeners, we know this: we can get our music on Bandcamp and SoundCloud, no major labels required. But along with the access to technology and the unprecedented ability to share music with people anywhere in the world, the emotional baggage that can come with fame can plague even the smallest independent artist.

“[The internet] is this devastating wasteland where everybody is emoting and creating,” says Sally Gross, a music industry vet turned course leader and principal lecturer in the Music Management graduate program at University of Westminster, London. “Social media and the democratization of the distribution of music, which so many people see as an amazing new frontier, had me thinking, ‘Hang on a minute, what is going to happen to all these people?’”

Gross’s previous experience working firsthand with artists and her current role teaching young musicians about the business inspired the study “Can Music Make You Sick?” Co-authored with Dr. George Musgrave, a senior lecturer in Gross’s MA program, the study was commissioned by Help Musicians UK, a charity established in 1921. Currently under the leadership of Richard Robinson, Help Musicians UK’s goal is to support musicians from the early talent development stages through to retirement; the organization also provides assistance during times of crisis, including crises related to mental health.

Part One of “Can Music Make You Sick,” a pilot survey with input from 2,211 participants, was published in 2016 by University of Westminster’s non-profit music industry information hub, MusicTank. The survey participants are self-identifying musicians in the UK. With the survey, Gross and Musgrave set out to discover how these musicians feel about their working conditions and how they perceive working in the music industry to affect their well being. “[With] the unbelievable amplification of the abundance of music and the value of music seeming to disappear, what was going on in the lives of musicians?” Gross says. “If music and artistic expression is so good for us, what’s on the other side of that?”

In their research, they found that huge numbers of musicians suffer from anxiety and depression and that musicians are at risk to suffer depression three times more than the general public. Although artists “find solace in the production of music,” the study describes trying to build a career in music as “traumatic.” “Musicians feel there are gaps in existing provisions and that something needs to change,” the study reads.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion

Rise of the Internet Metal Stars: How the game…

Rise of the Internet Metal Stars: How the game is changing:

I moved to Los Angeles over a year ago to take another stab at professional music, and one of the first projects I became involved in was called Meytal. It is a band created around YouTube megastar drummer, Meytal Cohen. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Meytal is an Israeli female drummer, who made a name for herself doing covers of rock and metal songs on YouTube.

Her online stats are astronomical – Over 128 million plays and 850,000 subscribers on YouTube, over 1.3 million Facebook “likes”, and a Kickstarter campaign to create an album of original material raised over $140,000. What’s really incredible is the level of engagement. Meytal recently posted a picture of her with a cat on Facebook, and it has 28,000 “likes”, 173 shares, and 450 comments. Even massive bands with 4-5 million “likes” don’t get that level of engagement; especially for something as quaint as a selfie with a cat. I was brought into the band near the completion of the album that was crowdfunded. The other band members include Threat Signal’s Travis Montgomery on lead guitar, Eric Emery of Skyharbor on vocals, and the multi-talented Anel Pedrero on bass and backing vocals. The Meytal album, Alchemy, has already sold over 10,000 copies in a little over a month of release, and even charted #104 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, #1 on the New Artist chart, and #5 on the Metal/Hard Rock chart during the album’s first week of release. All of this has been accomplished with no label, no radio, and no touring. It’s astonishing.

Before meeting Meytal and dipping a toe in this world, I had no idea this type of success was possible without taking the traditional path of joining a band, slugging it out in shitty clubs, sleeping in vans and on floors, peddling demos to labels and promoters, and dealing with general grind of trying to make it. Even going back to the Myspace days, there were questions whether these social media numbers would translate to real world album, merch, and ticket sales. New media has proven those questions have been answered with a resounding, “Yes!” I wanted to highlight some talented musicians who have made an impressive name for themselves almost strictly through social media and promotion via the internet.

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion

Why It’s Harder to Be a Successful Musician Th…

Why It’s Harder to Be a Successful Musician Than Ever Before | MetalSucks:

Those who read this site regularly know that I’m no industry naysayer. I believe that technology helps music for the better, have supported streaming services from day 1 (literally), think the Internet has done wonders for creativity and music consumption, and think the state of the music industry (and metal industry) in general — from an artistic perspective — is the best it’s ever been in the history of recorded music.

But none of that changes the fact that, in spite of — or maybe because of — those advances, making music for a living is harder than it’s ever been. I’m not pining for the days of yore when rockstars could be rich, or saying kids these days are doing it all wrong, or that art suffers when there’s no investment in it — I’m just stating a fact.

Here’s why:

Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion

The Follower Factory

The Follower Factory:

In November, Facebook disclosed to investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated, indicating that up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform. These fake accounts, known as bots, can help sway advertising audiences and reshape political debates. They can defraud businesses and ruin reputations. Yet their creation and sale fall into a legal gray zone.

“The continued viability of fraudulent accounts and interactions on social media platforms — and the professionalization of these fraudulent services — is an indication that there’s still much work to do,” said Senator Mark Warner, the Virginia Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating the spread of fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

Despite rising criticism of social media companies and growing scrutiny by elected officials, the trade in fake followers has remained largely opaque. While Twitter and other platforms prohibit buying followers, Devumi and dozens of other sites openly sell them. And social media companies, whose market value is closely tied to the number of people using their services, make their own rules about detecting and eliminating fake accounts.

Devumi’s founder, German Calas, denied that his company sold fake followers and said he knew nothing about social identities stolen from real users. “The allegations are false, and we do not have knowledge of any such activity,” Mr. Calas said in an email exchange in November.

The Times reviewed business and court records showing that Devumi has more than 200,000 customers, including reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors and models. In most cases, the records show, they purchased their own followers. In others, their employees, agents, public relations companies, family members or friends did the buying. For just pennies each — sometimes even less — Devumi offers Twitter followers, views on YouTube, plays on SoundCloud, the music-hosting site, and endorsements on LinkedIn, the professional-networking site.

The actor John Leguizamo has Devumi followers. So do Michael Dell, the computer billionaire, and Ray Lewis, the football commentator and former Ravens linebacker. Kathy Ireland, the onetime swimsuit model who today presides over a half-billion-dollar licensing empire, has hundreds of thousands of fake Devumi followers, as does Akbar Gbajabiamila, the host of the show “American Ninja Warrior.” Even a Twitter board member, Martha Lane Fox, has some.

Three Types of Twitter Bots

  • A scheduled bot posts messages based on the time. The Big Ben bot tweets every hour.

    Watcher bots monitor other Twitter accounts or websites and tweet when something changes. When the United States Geological Survey posts about earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Area, the SF QuakeBot tweets the relevant information.

    Amplification bots, like those sold by Devumi, follow, retweet and like tweets sent by clients who have bought their services.“Social media is a virtual world that is filled with half bots, half real people,” said Rami Essaid, the founder of Distil Networks, a cybersecurity company that specializes in eradicating bot networks. “You can’t take any tweet at face value. And not everything is what it seems.”

  • Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion

    Ex-Threatin Guitarist Joe Prunera Tells All in…

    Ex-Threatin Guitarist Joe Prunera Tells All in Exclusive Interview | MetalSucks:

    Jered and Kelsey mostly kept to themselves while the other three members hung out — but never too far from Jered’s gaze. “They wanted to keep us close by and under wraps. One morning the three of us went down to breakfast and then went next door to get groceries, and when we returned we got yelled at for not knowing where we were and straying from the group. We were expected to keep close and for them to know where we were at all times. In London, we went to the shops in Camden, and we stuck together as a group. It would’ve been nice to be treated as an adult — ‘Be back here by a certain time.‘”

    or someone who’s at the center of one of the biggest scandals to rock the music industry all year, Prunera is remarkably zen about the whole experience, laughing at the ordeal and viewing it as a lesson learned. “When I first was reading about it, I was pretty shocked. When it blew up all over the internet, I was like ‘Wow, this is some heavy shit here,’” he says of his initial reaction. “Now, I’m honestly just kind of chuckling over it. It’s like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ In reality, this whole experience has taught me what not to do on tour, been a huge inspiration to really get my music out there even more and finish all the songs I’ve been writing. Honestly, I’m just inspired to move forward and keep pressing forward and get out there and perform and look at it as a big lesson learned.”

    For Prunera, the return to Las Vegas and the implosion of Threatin means back to work at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort convention area handling A/V, lighting, sound and video, where he says his co-workers were incredibly supportive of his endeavor with Threatin. He tells us that his original music is “along the lines of Maiden, Priest, Dio, Savatage, Doro, Queensrÿche that kind of stuff.” As soon as he finishes writing the songs that are currently in the works, he’ll be looking for a band with the goal of getting back on stage as soon as possible. “I live for that kind of stuff,” he enthuses. He had previously been involved in “an Elvis-based” stage production in Vegas, but that fell apart before it could get off the ground.

    I tell Prunera that I admire his ability to roll with the punches instead of letting the situation get him down. “Oh yeah, there’s opportunity in everything. Everything works out to your advantage if you let it. This is just the next step in the right direction.”

    “Like I said earlier, it’s so crazy you can’t help but chuckle a little bit. It’s insane.”

    Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion

    Jered Threatin

    Jered Threatin:


    Jessica Lussenhop’s article is bloody brilliant, one to mull over with a nice hot drink and ponder – don’t skim good journalistic writing.

    Update: 19 December 2018

    “The publicity stunt for this is done,” Jered Eames assured me at the end of our interview. “Anything I’ve said to you is factual.”

    To prove that he was indeed the one that tipped off the media to the hoax Eames forwarded me 16 different news tips sent from the “E. Evieknowsit” account. Four of them were sent to two different general BBC news tip email addresses, and the earliest of those was dated 4 November – five days before the first stories broke.

    My colleagues looked for the emails, but because those inboxes are routinely purged, they had nothing.

    After we first published our story, I began reaching out to reporters at the other outlets who had allegedly been sent emails. The earliest one was reportedly sent on 2 November to the “tips” inbox for the entertainment magazine Variety.

    “Yes, we got this email,” a helpful Variety reporter wrote back, attaching a copy with the exact same text that Jered had shared with me.

    Then I looked closer. The timestamp on Jered’s copy said it was sent on “Fri, Nov 2, 2018 at 12:16 PM”. The copy from the Variety reporter read, “Sat, Nov 17, 2018 at 4:32 PM”.

    An editor at MetalSucks, which did some of the earliest breaking stories on Threatin, could not find an alleged 7 November email that Jered shared with me. Instead, he found a different email from Evie in their inbox, pointing him to a YouTube clip from one of Threatin’s empty shows. It was dated 17 November.

    As I went down the line, I found that the New York Times, Ultimate Classic Rock and Metal Insider all got the “E. Evieknowsit” email on 17 November. But by this date, these outlets had already extensively covered the Threatin story.

    Finally, the BBC’s IT specialists managed to recover two deleted messages from “E. Evieknowsit”.

    Both were sent on 17 November, less than an hour apart.

    When I texted Jered to tell him what I’d found, he said he would respond.

    RICHARD BENTALL: Delusions, Paranoia and Socia…

    RICHARD BENTALL: Delusions, Paranoia and Social Identity:

    Lunctime lecture for you guys from Professor Richard Bentall. A fascinating breakdown of how social identity and mental health are so closely connected.

    Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion

    Joe was great guest to have on – the interview…

    Joe was great guest to have on – the interview ran long as it was just fun chatting to him. The Awakening was featured in today’s show but we could only fit a snippet, so here it is in full.

    Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion

    It was fun recording with The Sunny Devils at …

    It was fun recording with The Sunny Devils at their rehearsal, but it meant only my bootleg recording got on the show. So, here is My Undoing as it should be heard.

    They’ve also got more on their website and spotify, go check ‘em out.

    Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion

    Jered Threatin: “I Turned an Empty Room into a…

    Jered Threatin: “I Turned an Empty Room into an International Headline” | MetalSucks:

    “What is Fake News? I turned an empty room into an international headline. If you are reading this, you are part of the illusion. #Marketing #Psychology#SocialMedia #FakeNews #Threatin #BreakingTheWorld #MusicIndustry@NBCNews @BBCNews @JoeRogan @RollingStone @billboard

    OMG! Don’t we all feel like assholes now*? JERED THREATIN DID IT ALL TO TEACH US A LESSON ABOUT FAKE NEWS!!! He’s not a failed musician-turned-con artist, he’s a brilliant social critic!!! How did we not understand this all along?!?!?!

    Look, I suppose it’s possible that Jered has pulled some genius Andy Kaufman-level performance art stunt here**. It’s also possible Axl Rose is going to call me later today and offer me a million dollars to be his official biographer. It seems improbable, but it’s not impossible.

    Meanwhile, this morning’s article sent off a landslide of new sources contacting MetalSucks. Expect this story to somehow get even more bizarre in the next few days.

    *Probably still smaller, less stinky assholes than a guy who sent out a graphic of his own quote, though.
    **Although I’m not sure what the lesson/point would be; this doesn’t teach us anything about Fake News because it’s not Fake News — the fact that someone was able to trick so many other people using social media is an amazing, very much of-the-moment story. If he taught anyone a “lesson,” it’s the venues I guess? Maybe the lesson here is simply that people who unironically use the term ‘Fake News’ are generally full of Real Shit.

    Digital Human: Series 16, Episode 4 – Illusion