Reflecting on the Music of Research

I wanted to prove the sustaining power of music – David Bowie

Music is something that I could not live without. It is a constant in my life and just like the flowers in my garden and the toothy vampire smile of my cat, music fills me with joy and light. So when I’m offered a chance to create a digital artefact that I can control and choose what media to explore with retrospect to audience, media and place – music was the choice for me. I have always been curious about the effect of music on people and how different platforms create a different feeling. While this wasn’t exactly a topic I could focus on solely, I decided to use this chance to explore how consuming and engaging in music has changed through advancements in accessibility to music and evolving technology. I didn’t have a specific research question that drove my research, but a general curiosity in the way music consumption has evolved and how the different way audiences engage with music as a media.

I am really happy I chose this as my research topic. Not only did I get to create a podcast and research something I am genuinely interested in, but I also moved outside of my comfort zone to interview a fellow uni student. My goals for this assignment to start with were larger than I could achieve. I had first wanted to create an entire podcast series and interview a larger audience but was constrained with time and length of the project. I hoped when I started this I would find an answer that would not only reflect my research but further my own thoughts on the evolving media platforms and how they affect our relationship with music. I managed to do that and I feel like even though I could have achieved a better result if I had more time to play with in regards to length of my podcast, I still achieved a resulting podcast that had information, research, dialogue and an opening to do more with the project even after this assignment is done. I feel like in this project I have managed to explore appropriately how the media practice of listening and engaging with music and the audiences experiences through different platforms are spatial in nature.

Who & Why 

My initial plans were to interview a wide range of people, my mother and sister, my boyfriend and a family friend. Probably a decision I had made because of my own reservations of asking and interviewing people I don’t know made it hard for me to go outside of my immediate circle. I actually ended up in my final project interviewing Ashley from our own tutorial class who was happy to help out. I asked her about her own music consumption, how she listened to music, where she listened to music and whether or not all those factors influenced how she felt while listening to music. My end recording from our interview was over 25 minutes long, so to cut all the information and most useful parts of our discussion was hard. I actually did interview my sister later, but even though I had more than one voice to include I found it was too hard to change and introduce people in the one episode. If I had more time to explore this topic I would have liked to include the diverse opinions about music in regards to media, audience and space.

Methodology and Platform 

Researching my topic was actually rather enjoyable. I chose to do the hard research first, finding sources and academic readings that could help me think of questions to ask, and to create my introduction episode for the podcast. Then I would do my interviews which would be another factor in my qualitative research practice. I feel like this was the right way to do this, as I had information to back me up when I was interviewing people, and also it helped me work out what direction my research was going to take me.

My project is shared through the Soundcloud platform as a podcast. As I was exploring something that was held in an aural form I decided to use this as my final method. The only negative I found with using this method was the fact that I had time restrictions. I actually had a third podcast episode written but as I was already over the time limit I was hesitant to continue pushing that limit. I may still end up releasing the final episode. As this was a podcast, and I come from a family with hearing impairments, I decided to write out the transcript of both episodes.
I really like what I’ve done, and now I’m more confident in my podcast making abilities I feel this this not only has sufficed for this project, it will be something I use again.

Musical head2
Music Therapy 

Learning, Challenges and  Development

I feel like this project has only furthered my curiosity with the effects of music and the future of music engagement. Through researching effects of music, the way we consume music, the music industries tribulations with material sales and digital streaming services and musings on how much influence consumers have on media – I have finished this with insight into the many facets of media industries.

Not only did I learn something about my project but I also furthered my knowledge on digital researching, the technical side of creating a digital artefact and my communications skills. Before this I would consider my strengths in research purely just in being able to reiterate in essays, but now I have used the research I had done as a tool to create the questions needed to get the information I needed.

The challenges I had to overcome with this project were spatial in nature themselves. The restrictions Torsten Hagerstrand explores in his space-time path theory are that human spatial activity is restricted by physical (capability), coupling and authoritative constraint. For example, to meet up with Ashley at the university in the afternoon on a day where we both were doing more than one assignment somewhere else was a challenge. In the end, the time we were to meet was pushed back due to travelling time constraints as a result of going overtime on another project I couldn’t finish at uni, and then our own coupling limitation was because we had only enough time to be helping each other out before we had to leave to do something else.
I also had problems with coupling constraints in relation to other interviews I had wanted to have with other people. But although I was able to do one, the other person had just spent time in hospital. These are just an example of how altering factors contributed to the construction of this project.

Usefulness to Media Industries 

Now I may sound a little conceited, but I feel like the topic I am raising and exploring in my podcast would be advantageous to those involved in the music distribution industry. I am exploring not only why people consume music but how, where, when and on what medium or platform they are using. Although I have only shown one interview on my podcast, I am confident that Ashley and myself are exploring common paths taken by modern music consumers these days. Stories like this are effective, and if stakeholders or those involved in the music industry are serious about future consumer interest, they should listen to study projects likewise to mine.

Final Thoughts

This is probably one of the most enjoyable projects I have done. I feel more confident in my own abilities now, and also like I have done and achieved something out of my comfort zone. Whilst I haven’t been able to create the podcast of my dreams (easily boring people with lots of information and wild sound effects) I still have created something that I am proud of.

One thought on “Reflecting on the Music of Research

  1. Hi Maddy, I just happened to be on Twitter in the UK when this popped up. It’s really got me thinking about making all research (including student research) more accessible for research participants. We should include this in the curriculum. Thanks for the reminder.

    Lovely post.


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