The YouChoose Era

Most users of the internet go on the internet to browse and discover new music, books, or any subject. of media We use the internet to connect with friends, do homework and many other things. What most users do not do is put themselves on the internet to reach stardom, to make it big on YouTube or iTunes. Most users before these user generated sites were around would not easily to able to create and be successful in creating response from what they shared.

I never knew that there were so many outlets on the internet to create, market, and share ones own original work. In Steven Beer’s Article “How Digital Platforms Are Changing the Entertainment World,” he writes about how many celebrities today started out on Youtube, such as Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black who started out by uploading videos, and were soon discovered by the public and major recording agencies. He points out that artists with any creative inclination can fund their works on a website called Kickstarter. Before reading this article I had never heard of this website. Kickstarter prides themselves on promoting independent artists. The projects range from the subject of art, to games and food. Just by browsing the main page of the site, there are many startup artists who have already raised money up in the thousands. Although not all of the internet users participate on the web like this, Beer argues that the consumers play a key part too, we now have the ability to be view whatever content we want. He argues that this combination of artists promoting their work online and consumers searching for new interests, allows for a “discovery platform.” Beer states that this relationship will continue to happen. Beer also argues that as we are discovering new artists, we are also shaping the way the content is generated. The internet allows the creator to know what audience will like, and according to that, they will have the ability to tweak their projects to reflect that. He claims that this has started “TheYouChoose Era.” 

The relationship between the artist and the audience creates what Nancy Baym would call Social Shaping in her book Personal Connection in the Digital Age. Social Shaping is one of the four social discourses of new media technologies. This happens when we influence technology, especially in the ways that content is produced. Websites like Kickstarter or YouTube are helping produce content, while also allowing discussion amongst the audience as to what they like about the content produced. Beer claims there is now sense of empowerment in the entertainment world because media platforms make it easier for these entertainers to control their own content. He notes that about half of the e-books on the New York Times top 25 list came from those who self-published their books. He claims this kind of empowerment would not have been possible before. This way, there forms a critical relationship between the audience and the creator. One where the creator has to know how to please the audience so that their content will spread through the internet. While most people start out their projects through well known companies, websites like Kickstarter and Youtube allow the artists to avoid the middle man and get their content out to their audience.

An affordance that Beer claims new user generated sites have is that they allow users to use the internet more than radio and television to discover new content. He claims that more teens use Youtube, Pandora or Spotify to discover music, and creators of this content recognize that too. While mostly mainstream artists get on-air time on the radio, lesser-known artists can upload their music to YouTube. He claims that as time goes on, and teens get older, we will still turn to new technology to discover new entertainment. While I think that radio will still influence that popularity of  songs, as Aliza mentioned in her blog post “Before You Came Into My Life I Missed You So Bad”, will it still be a great influence a decade from now?  Youtube and the like will be able to reach to a wider audience, not just those that listen to the Top 40 music lists, but people from any parts of the world.

While this seems like an easy way to release ideas and projects on the internet while being able to discuss the projects with the audience, it makes me wonder if its the best for all creative projects. If films are being created based on what the audience like or does not like, does that leave room for the artist to create work that does not have to depend on opinions?

In the video “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube” by Michael Wesch, YouTube plays a large part in the relationship of the user and the audience criticizing and encouraging the creators work. Beer believes in this idea that user-generated sites build on the idea of empowerment, that the user generated content can be uploaded, users can collaborate across time and space and no companies or organizations can tell you what content is allowed.

There’s no denying that fact that these user generated sites are directly influencing the success of artists. As the artists are creators of their own content, and feel empowered to freely post what they want on the internet, audiences can have a say in what is successful. Audiences will have a say in what gets discovered and what can be just another corner of the internet.



  1. I like that you are questioning the artists’ ability to fuel their creativity. Your point on whether the Internet has become a foundation of performance based solely on user response is valid and insightful. This idea reminds me of Slater’s theory of disembodiment in his article “Social Relationships and Identity Online and Offline.” He argues that, “because all presences online are textual they are also self-evidently performances, and therefore one can be liberated from the concept of authenticity itself, and enter a different ethics and politics, that of performance…” Although the Internet has given us the freedom to collaborate across time and space and to have our work viewed objectively thanks to anonymity, it has also become a platform in which we are putting a conscious effort to present ourselves and to perform for our audiences. This has both positive and negative results. I agree that to a certain degree the grade of creative freedom we have on our projects varies based on the audience’s response to these endeavors and may not be something that we are actually proud to put forward, although we know it will generate a positive response from our online peers. I also think that this takes away from our online authenticity because we become more concerned with our performance and focus less on our craft…

  2. I really enjoyed how you approached this article, the idea of the artist really has changed in the “YouChoose Era.” The creator/producer has the ability to spread content through different online mediums, and garner attention from it, lessening the importance of production studios, make-up artists, etc.. Everything has become a bit “DIY” with the hope of making it big, and being able to have other people do things for you.

    The fact that you brought in Social Shaping was definitely important, the internet is definitely shaping and empowering these producers of content to get their products out there, and to get feedback from a community, as you said it’s a critical relationship. You mention the fact that Beer states in the article that we will continue to discover music online as we grow older, through these new mediums, and there isn’t a foreseeable shift back to the traditional outlets for the distribution of content.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: