Tuesday, 8 May 2012

music industry for g322

In last week's blogpost, I offered some general advice about approaching the second question on the AS exam paper- on audiences and institutions. This post homes in on some material you might access to help you with your answer.

Whatever the question in the exam, if you are doing the music industry, you will be able to use the material you have gathered. This area is always a good one for up-to-date examples which illustrate the complexities of the topic. In this post, I shall point you to a few useful resources and it will be up to you to decide how to make use of them.

Ameena Molyneaux's blog contains lots of useful examples on marketing, production, piracy, distribution and audience. A look through the videos, presentations and documents there would give you some good material for approaching questions on any of those areas. Of particular use, tucked away in the links at the end of her blog is the trade publication: Music Week. Here you can find lots of recent stories with relevant facts and figures you could use to back up arguments about the industry. Also useful is the BPI website, which gives you things from the industry's perspective.

The Guardian has a whole section on the music industry, with a massive database of old stories. There is a lot currently on the front page relating to online services such as iTunes and Spotify, plus the deal involving EMI and Sony and the blocking of Pirate Bay. A read through anything relating to material you have considered previously will help refresh the issues for you before the exam and give you some current case studies to use.

There are also a few good infographics relating to the music industry to be found online. Be careful though, if you use them, to make sure you understand what they mean. Here's one which has some good data. This one has some figures about piracy. I also found this interesting pinterest site which has loads of links to useful stuff. Lots of it won't really be relevant to the exam, so it's up to you to wade through it, but if you fancy a bit of a diversion into other areas of music, it will give you lots of ideas.

Good luck!

Friday, 4 May 2012

AS exam advice: Audiences and Institutions

Whichever media area you are covering for this question, it is important that you show understanding of the key concepts and refer to specific examples in your answer. In this post, we will consider some of the ways in which you can help yourself do well with five 'top tips'.

1. Read the question carefully

You have no choice of questions, so you have to have a go at what is there on the paper; sometimes students panic and think that they don't understand the question- maybe because of one particular word- but so long as you have prepared on all the concepts there will be something in the question that you recognise. Words like 'technology', 'convergence', 'distribution', 'marketing', 'digital'  come up and you should see them as your 'hook' into the question. Even if the overall wording seems to be baffling, look for the terms that are there in the question and see them as the springboard for your answer.

2. Don't spend ages on an introduction

You only have 45 minutes to answer the question, so there isn't time to waffle! A quick sentence which sets out what you are going to do and which media area or industry you are going to use will suffice. You can prepare a lot of this in your head in advance, so something like: In this essay, I shall write about (concept) in relation to the (film, music, radio, etc) industry, drawing on (examples) as my case studies.

3. Know your examples

Whichever industry you are writing about, you will need examples to support your points. I would always advocate having some contrasting examples so that you can look at all angles; for example, you might have a mainstream high budget film from the USA to contrast with a low budget independent Uk film, or a major record label to contrast with a little UK indie label. That way, you can talk about the different ways in which the industry might operate in different circumstances. You need not know absolutely eveything about just two examples, however. It could be that you know about the funding of a particular low budget film, but don't know about its marketing; in which case find another example of something similar where you can find out about its marketing. The important thing is to get a good grasp of the ways in which the concepts apply rather than every tiny detail of a specific case study example. What you do need is to make sure you understand the general principles well and can back up your points accurately.

4. Try to be systematic

Don't jump about between points; spend a bit of time at the start of the exam planning the structure of your answer and working out the main points and examples for each paragraph. this will ensure that the rest of your time is spent fruitfully as well. Know what key point you will make in each paragraph, what examples you will refer to and how you want to make a case from it all. Use similarity and difference as starting points for organising an argument; there will be differences between mainstream and indie which you might use as your way through, for example.

5. Make it all legible

Remember, examiners may be old and may have poor eyesight. Well at least that applies to me! Most students do not have great handwriting, so make it easier for the examiner to find the strengths in what you have written. Keep your paragraphs relatively short- half a page at most. Leave a clear line between each paragraph. There is nothing in the rules to say that you can't use a highlighter pen to emphasise your key examples or terms. Don't overdo this, but it does sometimes help to draw the reader's attention to points which ought to pick you up marks.

Prepare well and you should do well. Answers to Q.2 often look shorter than those for Q.1, but if you know your stuff and have revised properly, they shouldn't be. Good luck!