Music, Youtube, and Academic Libraries

By Dougan, Kirstin | Notes, March 2016 | Go to article overview

Music, Youtube, and Academic Libraries


Dougan, Kirstin, Notes


ABSTRACT

The current environment of video sharing sites like YouTube, and direct-to-consumer digital music distribution models, presents challenges to academic music libraries' primary mission of building collections of materials to support research and create a record of scholarly and artistic output. The rise in the use of smart mobile devices that allow individuals to store large quantities of music and use sites like YouTube has created an expectation that finding and accessing music should be convenient and easy. This article examines the ways in which university music faculty members in the United States consider YouTube use in their teaching and research. It finds that there are differences in how faculty in different music subdisciplines view and use YouTube, and that there is a dichotomy in how faculty as a whole value YouTube for teaching compared with their own work. Faculty understanding of YouTube's content, legality, and applications for teaching and research varies widely. Finally, this article illuminates how faculty view their institutional libraries in comparison to sites like YouTube, and explores the implications all of this might have for the future of library collections.

Academic libraries collect and preserve materials related to the disciplines they serve, thereby creating a record of scholarly output. Given that music is a performance-based discipline, sound--in live or recorded formats--has always been intrinsic to its study. Composers, scholars, and performers all make extensive use of audio and video recordings in learning, analyzing, and creating music. With assistance from publishers and vendors, music libraries have collected every conceivable audio and video format produced, from wax cylinders to Blu-ray discs.

Today, however, recordings can be distributed and delivered directly to individual consumers via downloads and streams, and sales of physical media have declined. (1) In many cases, downloads are restricted by end-user license agreements (EULAs), which preclude libraries from downloading and circulating the tracks. In 2013, music streaming through sites like YouTube and Spotify in the United States was up by one-third from the previous year, totaling more than 118 billion streams, (2) while streaming from Netflix and YouTube accounted for 50 percent of all North American fixed (nonmobile) network data. (3) Venerable performing groups such as the London Symphony Orchestra (4) and record labels such as Rhino Records (5) have their own YouTube channels with sanctioned content. UNESCO uses YouTube as a method for sharing cultural heritage materials, including music and other performances. (6) There is even a YouTube Symphony Orchestra, the first online collaborative ensemble, which premiered Tan Dun's Internet Symphony no. 1, written for the occasion. (7)

The current college student population has always lived in a world with computers, and relies increasingly on smartphones and other mobile computing devices. In using them for personal and academic information, they do not necessarily see a boundary between the two. This is the context in which music is being researched, taught, and learned. Therefore, it stands to reason that YouTube and similar sites are having an effect on teaching and research in music.

This study examines university music faculty members' use and perceptions of YouTube for teaching and research. It also seeks to determine whether a faculty member's music subdiscipline, such as performance or musicology, is a significant factor in his or her use or perceptions of tools like YouTube. It also asks faculty to compare YouTube to their institution's

library collections and their use of both. Finally, it explores the implications for academic library music collections as they face challenges in collecting, distributing, and preserving online media, and in striving to meet faculty and student needs given their current use and opinions of sites like YouTube. …

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