Surveilling Taste


I found that both the Taste and Surveillance readings were quite relevant in regards to Negus’ piece. For a record label to succeed, it must somehow identify trends regarding taste in the market in order to decide which artists are worth investing in and promoting. Negus explains two coping strategies of record labels, the first being the “throwing mud against the wall” method where companies overproduce tons of music spanning many genres to see what sticks. The second is when labels lay low and wait for someone else to find something promising that can later be acquired by the company.

It seems like conglomerates like Warner Music Group may have a better chance at successfully identifying trends due to their cross media ownership. By being able to gather more data (or surveillance) on the public’s taste in several industries, such as film, publishing, television, and music, perhaps WMG can better determine which artists will be received best by society.

Negus’ “Market Intelligence” section outlines specifically how surveillance is achieved by record labels. By gathering data from online sources, sale information, and even from gathering information from nightclubs, labels can analyze the lifestyles of and decisions made by consumers. Though record labels are not the only type of companies to gather sometimes sensitive information from consumers, these processes made me think about how almost all of the information we give out online (though social media, web-browsing, and more) is used by companies to target advertisements. The readings made me start thinking about how common it is for our activities to be monitored, but how little we tend to think about it. For example, there have been many instances where I recall having a conversation with a friends about a particular store, and then a few days later seeing an ad pop up on Instagram for that exact store, despite me not ever having inputted the name into any kind of search engine or social media platform. Its creepy, but after another few seconds of scrolling I seem to forget about it entirely. Just how much of our information is being collected through our consumption of social media, music, film, and electronics. And how?

Moreover, reading about surveillance and how companies utilize their means of surveillance made me think about the Black Mirror Episode titles “The Entire History of You” where everyone a memory chip implanted into them which allows them to records and rematch everything they do, see or hear. In light of the readings, the episode seems like a sneak preview into how companies could gather our information in the future… If they have access to our phone’s microphones and apps, maybe they would gain access to devices such as the memory chip in the episode! I made my video by overlaying a quote from they keywords about the uses of surveillance on top of parts of a trailer for the Black Mirror episode I referenced. I hoped to evoke a kind of eerie feeling about what personal information of ours is being monitored by surveillance measures.