A Look into Niagara's Local Music Scene

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Canadian Music Op Ed Piece

Music is a large part of Canadian culture; and any culture for that matter. In a music culture highly dominated by our neighbours down south, it is important that we as Canadians educate ourselves and protect the music culture that our country has. A dedicated Wikipedia page on Canadian music is important and useful, and it plants Canada as a contributing country for world music. 

The Wiki Talk section of the Music of Canada Wikipedia page is quite extensive (47 discussion topics to be exact), which I believe suggests many good things. (I’m noting now that the “Music of Canada” page is a Wiki-project, meaning that editing is ongoing. The talk page that I am analyzing is the talk page on the project itself – all the topics relate to what you see on the main page.) For one, it means that people are taking interest in the integrity of the knowledge available about Canadian music. It also shows that there is more information to discredit the cliché of “Canadian music sucks” – and that many people are fighting for a national music culture that is documented and can serve the purpose to educate.

I think that the information found on the Canadian Music page is extremely reliable because there is a designated group of people that are making it a project. I particularly liked the topic of “the” Arcade Fire. A user made a point to go through the entire Arcade Fire page and Canadian Music page and add in “the” in front of “Arcade Fire” to ensure that people reading knew the band’s official name. As well, there was a topic dedicated to the dispute over Art Bergmann’s date of birth. These small details might at first seem pointless or miniscule but they in fact are what contributes to the overall reliability of the information  found on this Wiki page, or any Wiki page for that matter. 

There is a topic titled “Casey Sheehan and Weapons of Mass Instruction,” in which a user addresses the proposed deletion of James Gordon, Casey Sheehan and Weapons of Mass Instruction bands from the Wiki page. The manner in which it is proposed is not a final statement, it’s offering up an option of rejection to this idea for fans that believe they contribute to the page and the Canadian music culture. In my opinion this shows a great deal of respect not only for fans of these bands and artists but also to the editor that originally felt compelled to include them on this page. This also runs parallel with Jensen’s idea of the absent boundary between the uneducated and the scholarly editors on Wikipedia. 

This general discussion forum is in no way pretentious or matter of fact. Jensen (2012) quotes Wikipedia’s David Goodman; “The frontier mindset survives in the behavior of people on the net in settings like ours, where they think themselves similarly free from conventional institutional restraints, and the world is open in front of them to exploit and to remake as they choose.” Although exploitation is not the concept I am getting at here, the “remaking” aspect is. What user are doing on this talk page is reworking the previously held notions of music culture to Canadians. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that people are forgetting about the past and are primarily concerned with the present – they are merely condensing previous generations into a more concise history to make room for the present state of culture which holds the potential for growth.

Finally, in terms of legitimacy of the sources, it is always questionable and with something as ambiguous as music, the concrete sources are very “wishy washy” if you catch my drift. Going through the talk section it’s hard to determine where exactly the sources for the information are coming from other than discussion and debate. I feel this echoes my previous point of Jenkin’s notion of the absent barrier between the educated and non-educated wiki editors. 

Overall, I believe that the information found in this Wikipedia page is about 75% reliable if a number was to be attached. There’s an evident passion for the accuracy of the information and protection of the Canadian music culture by the formation of the Wiki project, and this in my opinion is an extremely good and important thing. The improvement I would see beneficial is to have more defined and concrete sources.


Jensen, R. (2012). Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812.
 Journal of Military History. 76, 1. pp 1165-1182

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July in Niagara

To help keep those interested up to date I published a Storify article containing upcoming shows and events throughout the Niagara Region in July!! If you have a show you think I should include, leave a comment! Click here: Storify Article - July in Niagara

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Module 5 Podcast

The article used in this podcast can be found at the following link:


I chose this article because it supports the purpose of my blog and emphasizes the importance of local music. This is something of great interest and importance to me and I want others to take interest in what Niagara's local music scene has to offer.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Consumption is a Choice

Larry Lessig’s video was reminiscent of my post from module 4 about culturally common content and remixing. He acknowledges the difference between piracy and “read-write” and this encapsulates perfectly what I was stating in my discussion. If you’re using a cultural product for a “read-write” creation, then it is not piracy, it is “re-creating” to say something differently. Piracy is the “wholesale” distribution of a product “without the permission of the owner.”

This re-creation of cultural products is key to the evolution of culture. Lessig speaks about the literacy of our generation through these recreations of cultural products - it is how our generation speaks. And what the corporations are doing is criminalizing the way we speak. What the corporations are trying to do is criminalize the products and the producers of these products, but as Bradley (2006) states, “it is the formation of participatory communities rather than any particular cultural artefact that is paramount” – which designates that it is impossible to criminalize [all] producers. You can perhaps take down a few YouTube videos and a record company will sue someone in the working class for everything they own, but you cannot stop the re-creation and production of new cultural material – there’s too many people who not only agree with it; they also support and embrace it, promoting its growth. McCourt (2003) makes an interesting statement that supports my point. He says, “Consumers will find innumerable choices at low cost as the Internet becomes a ‘vast intellectual commons’ in which ‘nothing will ever again be out of print or impossible to find; every scrap of human culture transcribed, no matter how obscure or commercially unsuccessful, will be available to all’”. 

So instead of criminalizing something that is fleeting, why not embrace its use? A flourishing creative commons could lead to less copyright infringement and more production of free cultural products. Let people choose what they want to pay for! Isn’t consumption a choice in the first place?


McCourt, T., P. Burkart. (2003). When Creators, Corporations and Consumers Collide: Napster and the Development of On-line Music DistributionMedia, Culture & Society. 25 (3), pg. 333-350 

Larry Lessig: Laws that choke creativity. TED Talks (2007). Filmed March 2007, posted November 2007.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SCENE 2013 Video Montage!

Here is a short montage of a few videos and photos I took at SCENE. If you want to know more about what bands played or where you can find their music leave a comment!
NOTE: The music is loud in this video so check that you have your speakers turned down a little if you don't want to be startled. 

Module 4: In Summation

In lieu of a summative post (due to having no comments) I’m going to give a “reflective” post on “Copy, Transform, Combine,” while also sharing some of my experiences and observations from this past Sunday’s S.C.E.N.E Music festival. 

In my post “Copy, Transform, Combine” I stated my opinion of the importance of culturally common materials that have low production costs. Having stated this I reflect on it now and I realize that this is a very broad and general statement that has many issues. First and foremost – my statement assumes that cultural products with low production costs are not worth paying for and this is not true. However small in value, it does still hold value and this is not to be overlooked. But I do affirm my point that there needs to be some sort of culturally common material to be used as building blogs. 

Now switching the pace – a common thing that I observed during the SCENE music festival this past weekend was the use of cover songs by bands. There are many things that could be said about this. I think that bands use cover songs during their live sets to keep the audience intrigued and to connect with them. With an audience member who may not be familiar with a band’s songs and may experience their performance with less enthusiasm because of this, a cover of a song offers a new connection between listener and band. Now I am not familiar with the copyright laws regarding the use of cover songs during live shows. But it would be my assumption of logic that because nothing is being recorded (intentionally) by the band that it would be free to do.

So doesn’t the sampling of other band or artists song have the same concept of playing a cover live? Kind of like my suggestion of allusions and intertextuality in literature? It creates a connection with the consumer/producer based on material that is KNOWN to be someone else’s. Isn’t that how knowledge and ideas are circulated? This is why culturally common material is fundamentally needed, and this is why I believe that copyright laws on music should be loosened and the boundaries of prosecution redefined.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Copy, Transform, Combine"

Remember back to high school English for a moment. Recall the terms such as allusion, or intertextuality - these terms are attached to literary works that reference other texts to create meaning, whether it is direct or implied. And these are commonly accepted scholarly concepts that have been engrained in our minds from a very young age. It is culturally acceptable to allude to another person’s writing, and it is recognized and supported by literary communities. Literature is a remix!

So why does the distribution and remix of cultural products online pose so many issues? We've been doing it for hundreds of years through published literature!

Kirby Ferguson`s videos (Everything's a Remix) raises the key point of market economics. This is in my opinion the dominant cause of all sample and patent lawsuits. In short, it all comes down to greed. Jenkins also focuses largely on the market economics of online cultural content distribution, although his is a less “greed” themed argument and takes a “struggling” tone, empathizing with both producers and consumers.
Jenkins is justified and balances his arguments in favour of both sides of the producer consumer spectrum, and I think that this is important. In order to have “freely accessible cultural commons,” we need to understand how we are consuming, and how material is being given to us.

In order for fully accessible cultural commons, I think that producers of cultural products need to redefine the monetary value placed on them. It is widely known by consumers that movies, for example, have extremely high production costs, and therefore consumers justify their purchase of movie theatre admissions or DVD purchases this way. Conversely, an internet blogger wishing to use a photo that is relevant to their writing would not value the photo in the same way one values a movie. Therefore, I argue that low production cost material or no production cost material SHOULD be made culturally common. Because without the building blocks for cultural production, such as photos, sound bytes, short video clips, fan fiction, etc. etc. etc., there is no way for culture to evolve. It’s just what Kirby Ferguson stated in his system failure video: “Copy, transform, combine.”


Jenkins, H. (2004) The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence  International Journal of Cultural Studies March 2004 7: 33-43