Monday Morning: Tectonic Shift

Last week after the artist Prince Rogers Nelson died, a segment of the population were mystified by the reaction to his passing. They’d missed impact this artist had had on music which happened concurrent with a paradigm shift in the entertainment industry. Prince rose in sync with music videos in the 1980s when musical artists became more than sound alone.

Music television has since collapsed as anyone who watched MTV and VH-1 since 2000 can tell you. Programming once dedicated to music videos became a mess of unscripted reality programs and oddments, punctuated occasionally by music specials, chasing an audience which increasingly found and consumed music on the internet.

This weekend, though, marked another shift. R&B pop artist Beyoncé released a ‘visual album’ on HBO on Saturday evening entitled ‘Lemonade’. The work was available exclusively through Tidal after its HBO premiere until midnight last night when it was released on Apple iTunes. This is the first music collection released in this manner, using a cable network not previously dedicated to music in tandem with internet streaming and download sales.

I won’t offer any analysis here about the album; you’re not looking if you do not see at least a fraction of the deluge of reaction and think pieces responding to Beyoncé’s latest work. I will say, though, that like Prince’s Purple Rain in 1984, this collection of work will have long-term impact across not only music but the entire entertainment industry.

Let’s launch this week’s roundup…

The Dutch pull a Lavabit-plus
Encrypted communications network Ennetcom was shut down on Friday and its owner arrested. Dutch law enforcement claimed Ennetcom was used by organized crime; its owner is accused of money laundering and illegal weapons possession. The network relied on servers located in Canada, where law enforcement has cooperated with the Netherlands by copying the information on the servers. Unlike the former secure email provider Lavabit in the U.S., it’s not clear there was any advance request for information by way of warrant served on Ennetcom in either the Netherlands or in Canada. Given the mention of illegal weapons, one might wonder if this seizure is related to the recent prosecution of gun smugglers in the UK.

Time for ‘Spring Cleaning’ — get rid of digital dust bunnies
Seems like a surprising source for a nudge on this topic, but the Better Business Bureau is right to encourage cleaning and maintenance. If you read Marcy’s post this morning, you know failing to use adequate passwords and firewalls can be costly. It’s time to go through your electronic devices and make sure you’re using two-factor authentication where possible, freshly reset strong passwords, and on your network equipment as well as your desktop and mobile devices.

Planning for your funeral – on Facebook?
A BBC piece this past week noted that Facebook will eventually have more dead users than live ones. Which brings up an interesting question: how do you want your digital presence handled after you die? Do you have instructions in place? Keep in mind, too, that your social media could be mined to recreate an online personality — your personality. Do you want to live forever in teh toobz?

Investigation into Flint’s water crisis continues
A Michigan legislative panel appointed by Governor Rick Snyder will hear from more state and local officials today in its fifth such meeting to investigate the Flint water crisis. Snyder is conveniently out of the country trying to drum up business in Europe — and conveniently not drinking Flint’s water.

Odds and sods

  • Waiting for word on Yahoo’s final bidders list (Bloomberg) — No word yet on who will remain among the 10 first-round bidders offering between $4-$8 billion.
  • German regulators won’t approve recall and fix of VW’s 2.0-liter diesel-powered Passat (Bloomberg) — And yet the U.S. is going forward with VW’s proposed fix for 2.0l vehicles? Odd, given Germany’s less-stringent approach to automotive emissions compared to U.S. and California in particular.
  • A UK-based inquiry found widespread emissions controls failure (Phys.org) — By widespread, I mean “not a single car among the 37 models involved in the study met an EU lab limit for nitrogen oxide emissions under normal driving conditions.” VW’s emissions controls defeat was just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s your Monday. Have at it!

UPDATE — 5:25 P.M. EDT — Oops, the auto-publish feature failed me today. I wasn’t able to come back and check the egg timer on this post and it got stuck in the queue. Oh well, better luck tomorrow morning!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
6 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    Will an audience that “increasingly consumes music on the Internet” continue to go for visual things like Lemonade? Also, do you know whether there is an age thing involved here? That is, as people get older, do they go for more music and less entertainment, or vice versa? Or is there enough of each, for everyone?

  2. Rayne says:

    bloopie2 (6:10) — LMAO Sorry, can’t believe you asked me that. YouTube — video streaming site — is the second most trafficked website in the world, reaching that status in well under 10 years. A lot of that traffic is to music videos and the consumers who use it most for that are young. (sampling of stats)

    One of the interesting angles in Beyonce’s Lemonade release is that HBO handled it versus other outlets. HBO is struggling to remain relevant in a saturated market, where users time-shift viewing (ex: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu) while cutting cable. HBO now has an on-demand streaming service (HBO Go) to compete with the other streaming outlets, but it needs more original content to fight for eyeballs. Beyonce’s Lemonade was all that.

    WRT (6:20) — That op-ed you linked by Ijeoma Oluo is pretty doggone good, but we will be picking apart every song and the video in that Lemonade collection for years. It’s one of the most powerful bodies of work I’ve heard and seen, and organized/produced by another all-in-one artist not unlike Prince. You’ll know how incredibly powerful it is by the critics who trash it and why they do so — like that hack Piers Morgan mouthing off that Beyonce was “militant.”

    Which is a snooty old white man’s fresh spin on saying uppity woman of color. Ugh, that man needs to catch the Hot Sauce clue bat with the brain pan.

  3. bloopie2 says:

    Touche. But as to this: “It’s one of the most powerful bodies of work I’ve heard and seen” You must mean as to “music video type ” works, right? Because there are thousands of musical works and written-word works and visual works that are so incredibly powerful and good that they are heard and read and seen decades or hundreds if not thousands of years later. Just sayin’.

  4. Ian says:

    Rayne said:
    The Dutch pull a Lavabit-plus
    .
    “Given the mention of illegal weapons, one might wonder if this seizure is related to the recent prosecution of gun smugglers in the UK.”.
    .

    I SAY:
    I think you can say there is a VERY HIGH PROBABILITY that the weapons smuggling charges against 5 men who were part of an organized crime gang that was trying to sell AK47’s & other such military weapons to “the highest bidder” within Britain itself was COMPLETELY intertwined with the Dutch & Canadian interception of encrypted messages and the supposed decryption skills of the Mounties (in the British case) and the Toronto police (in the Dutch case).
    .
    The common element in all these cases is the concern expressed in The Guardian report that the weapons all came from:
    ….. “ AFG Security, [of Zalaba Station in Slovakia] investigators believe, was the source of several of the of the firearms used by the Kouachi brothers in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and their friend Amedy Coulibaly, who killed five hostages at a kosher grocery store”.
    .
    No European—or Canadian—–police force will hesitate for a moment to shut down & arrest ANYONE “associated” with that type of activity, no matter how “patriotic” they claim to be.
    .
    And you can also assume that the stories of the Mounties or the Dutch having decryption powers is just a cover story—the Dutch are entitled to call upon the FULL powers of GCHQ & the NSA & the CSEC in one of these cases.
    .
    I don’t deny that somewhere a uniformed officer acting as a “sworn peace officer” will be found to “make an oath” so that a court will listen to them—but this a full “active terrorists” investigation across multiple countries –and all the countries mentioned so far have more than enough capacity & competence to deal with it.
    .
    Further references include:
    “The [British] NCA [National Crime Agency] put the gang under surveillance after receiving intelligence they had plans to illegally smuggle firearms into the country. BlackBerry phones fitted with PGP (pretty good privacy) encryption software were sent to the Canadian mounties to be decoded, in order to intercept messages between the men.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/21/how-police-decoded-encryption-software-to-thwart-arms-traffickers

  5. bloopie2 says:

    Anyhow, enough of this highfalutin’ stuff. My brain has been engaged for 14 hours now, time to veg out with a rerun of Highway To Hell. I can guarantee you they won’t be picking that one apart for years to come. But, Tow Trucks!
    .
    Thanks again for your work here.

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