The Student Life as an Uninformed Business – a bad metaphor

No feedback, no luck

Maddie and her fellow Marketing Department students have just finished their second university year. How did it go? Well…we don’t know yet, and we won’t know until all the formalities of making our grades official are completed. It surely seems odd to us that following a year of studying we have nothing to show if we have done well or not. To be completely honest, we do have grades for one unit which finished in March, but how about the other units that started in the beginning of the year and for which we have submitted many assignments before the final exams?

While walking terrified towards my final exam for the Marketing Management unit I was trying to remember what I’ve studied during my second year. One of the topics of discussion was Marketing Research and the importance this has in businesses making informed decisions. As it happens in the case of most students when trying to revise, my mind suddenly started wondering off the Marketing Management, and I’ve had and “epiphany”. I realised that towards the end of our second year we are as uninformed as a business manager who decided against marketing research and went with all the ideas the company has for new products. Let me go back and try to explain what I mean.

When deciding on what new products a company should pursue, a company conducts marketing research to find which products are more commercially viable and try to ensure the company’s success by choosing the product/s which is/are conferred to have this characteristic. In the case of Marketing (Advertising and Marketing Communications, PR and Marketing) students, at the beginning of the year we were informed we would have 4 units during the course of the year, each accounting for 30 credits. Making a simple calculation, at the end of the year we would have 120 credits, out of which only 90 will count for the degree calculation. To put it in business terms, we have 4 new products, out of which we must ensure that 3 are of very high standards and that they are profitable (we get our proposed degree qualification at the end of the third year). Throughout the year, we are meant to research and come to a conclusion as to which products will have the most “commercial viability”, based on the data collected (grades and feedback) from our marketing research company (tutors and lecturers). Before the final exams come into the picture, students should have enough data available to be able to decide which of the “products” is not feasible (which unit has no chance to improve the final grade), so that more effort can be put into the other 3 products. Unfortunately, despite paying the marketing research company, the data required (feedback or grades for the submitted assignments) for the student to make the informed decision has not been presented with sufficient time to allow us to make the informed decision, except for one of the “products” which has already had the final results presented.

We therefore have two options, each of them with risks associated due to the lack of information available:

  1. We don’t make a choice and try to concentrate as best as possible for all “products”, all the while hoping the results will not be mediocre for all of them;
  2. We chose two “products” to focus on, and hope that we made the right choice.

When the “End of Year accounts” are submitted (i.e. the final grades are posted), we might find out that we have either been successful or failed, but you must agree that no business should run in “blind”, and that most businesses who do so fail, sooner or later. So why risk students’ future by not providing them with the required information to make informed decisions? I understand that each tutor might have a “quota” of grades to achieve, and perhaps a reputation to maintain, but I feel like misinforming students should not be the way to do it.

The Advertising and Marketing Communications course at University of Bedfordshire has been the best decision I’ve made, but I can’t help imagining how much better it would be should students receive their feedback and grades according to the university guidelines.

What’s your opinion?

Love,

Maddie.

Rant of the week – with a twist :)

I’ve not told many people yet, but I’m a Student blogger intern at my University. The reason for that is I wanted to ramp up a few posts and then do something with it. I thought it was just a silly thing the uni want me to do for free and without any consequences, until I wrote the post below. It is no longer available on my student blog due to one phone call that woke me up this morning. I was told that it’s too negative and that I will get an e-mail with topics and guidelines of what I can and cannot do on my student blog. So I will just rant on my own little blog, which has more than 3 readers :))

Sometimes I wish that I was writing this blog under complete anonymity and that no one actually could see both my picture and my name at the top of the page. But then again, I’ve never been one to run from responsibility.

DisclaimerI want to confirm that it is not me writing this blog, but my tired and confused mind, and I reserve the right to take back some of my words at a later time. (soon 🙂 )

OK so … I wish that tutors were more interested and excited about the courses they are teaching. I mean seriously, even I am more excited about counting invoices than they are about MARKETING! What’s not exciting about Marketing? Well, maybe research, but regardless! You have a bunch of very interested, eager to learn students, and all you do is … well, just drain the life and excitement out of them.

I was just writing my personal reflection for my first graded assignment, and I had an epiphany…If Marketing communications requires planning and research, shouldn’t teaching also require some planning and structure? I know someone did some research at some point, but it seems that structure is something that’s missing here (well other than excitement).

So…what’s the deal here? We are paying £9000.00 per year…are we expected to make the tutors excited about their course, or is it the other way around? I’m not saying I want my mind to be blown and to have lectures and seminars that would make me praise the tutors every single time…I’m just saying that a bit of involvement wouldn’t hurt.

So tutors, please be a little bit more involved and at least pretend to be interested in the subject you’re teaching. 🙂

Thank you for listening to my rant…hopefully I will have a more positive approach to life next time we meet!

I don’t think it was inappropriate, I was just speaking my mind. And if that’s not something the student experience is about, than what is?

Well, anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a more positive approach to life in the next few hours, so I’ll write a new, more bubbly post on the other blog, which I hope no one reads!

Until next time, have a delicious day!

Love,

Maddie.

Stop crying your heart out!

I really don’t know what’s gotten into me lately, but I haven’t been in my best moods (yes, I have more than one good mood)…However, about a week ago I woke up with a song in my head, and I had no idea who sang it. I just knew that some of the lyrics were “Sally can wait” and while singing it in my head another song took over and the lyrics said something about “stop crying your heart out”. Of course I still had no clue what the names of these songs were, or who in the world sang them. I did the stupid thing of singing the Sally one to my boyfriend, and he started singing “Scotty doesn’t know”. Sooo…the songs in my head were gone, while Scotty had taken over. I’ve been trying since then to remember the lyrics so I can “google” them, but I just couldn’t. All I had was Sally and none of the songs that contained Sally on Google matched. That is until this morning, when again Sally took over my mind and told me to stop crying my heart out.

The difference between now and then is that now I had a computer and an internet connection handy, and I could google the lyrics and find the songs. And thank God I finally could. I don’t know what it is with some of the songs that were written, but they just have a way of speaking right to your soul and somehow heal it. Now I know that even though the stars have faded away it’s not worth to cry my heart out, cause I’ll see them again someday 🙂 This dark cloud over my soul is slowly dispersing, and the stars will shine above me soon enough.

So, I just want to thank you Oasis for making songs that make me feel better 🙂 And where you are concerned, listen to this song and STOP CRYING YOUR HEART OUT!

P.S. : The Sally song is still by the Oasis and it’s called “Don’t Look Back in Anger”

Have a delicious day!

Love,
Maddie

PR done right!

Seattle Police must be the most awesome Police Department in the whole wide world. Their lates PR campaign is not only informative, but it’s also hilarious! I’d like to see more of these around the world. It’s really refreshing to see a Police Department that doesn’t take itself to seriously and manages to speak to the citizens on a more personal level.

Read more about them in this post from AdWeek.

P.S.: the funniest part for me was: “This sticker is not a lawyer and cannot provide you with legal advice”. I dare you to say something bad about them 🙂

I’ll speak to you soon.

Love,

Maddie.

UoB – The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards 2013

vice-chancellor-awards

Friday evening was very special. It was the evening when many people have been recognised for their work, me included. I must admit that I felt very special attending this event. It is just something you don’t do every day, especially as a student.

Everyone was dressed up, the location was gorgeous, and the people there…well let’s just say you don’t get to hang out with them very often. The atmosphere was very posh with our raspberry filled champagne glasses and important conversations happening all around the patio of the Putteridge Burry campus.

We were then lead to the marquee where the dinner was held and the awards presented. The dinner was lovely, with the dessert being the highlight for me and we soon moved to speeches and awards. It is really nice to see that the University staff and students are all working together to improve the student experience. And this is what this event was all about – recognising the merits of people who have gone the extra mile for the students. Lecturers, staff, societies, support teams and students have all received a round of applause for their efforts during this academic year. And even though I have not won an award, it felt really good to be nominated for the Student of the Year award. Having your efforts recognised is a very powerful motivator and I feel that I have enough motivation to move mountains the following year. It makes me want to work that much harder and to do much more for my fellow students.

The organisation of the event was splendid, and the live band was awesome. I hope that I will be able to attend next year’s event and perhaps win an award that time around. I’ll make sure they’ll have a reason to give it to me 🙂

I’ll let you know how it goes. But until then, I wish you a delicious day!

Love,

Maddie.

Spotify – How do artists get paid?

I’ve already mentioned how Spotify makes money through their subscription tiers and respectively through advertisements for the free service. But how does that translate into payments for artists, recording labels and right holders?

According to their website, of the revenue collected from the over 6 million paying customers and the many companies who advertise through their platform, close to 70% goes to right holders: artists, labels, publishers and performing rights societies such as ASCAP and BMI. In the US, just thre years from launch, Spotify has paid out more than 500M USD in royalties and they are rapidly increasing along with the popularity of the service.

But how does this work exactly? Spotify has direct agreements with record labels, digital distributors, aggregators and publisher collecting societies to whom they regularly pay royalties. They then pay recording artists according to their respective contractual agreement. Generally speaking, Spotify pays according to the popularity of a specific song or artist. For example, if one artist’s music makes up for 2% of what users are streaming, then the artist will get almost 2% of Spotify’s gross royalties.

For artists, this means that if their music is popular, they have a much better chance of increasing their revenue through Spotify than they have by just selling them through usual distribution channels, be them physical or digital.

How do the economics of this model differ from those of the current single and album sales model? Spotify sells access to music instead of ownership of individual songs or albums. Royalties are generated every time a song or album is streamed (vs. the one time a song or album is purchased), and Spotify users spend twice the amount of money on music through subscription than the average downloader. The economics of streaming are very different than those of digital downloads. A proper comparison requires considering the long-term value of a consumer. In other words, the question they ask is: how much revenue does a streaming subscriber generate compared with a paying downloader.

Spotify Premium subscribers are higher value consumers than “downloaders” because they pay at least £120 annually, whereas average download purchasers spend under £60 / year on music. So for instance, if the 40M paying downloaders in the US became Spotify subscribers, artists would earn twice as much for their music than they currently do.

And this is not only good for already acknowledged artists and their music, but for independent and emerging artists as well. Spotify pays out royalties to emerging artists whenever fans enjoy their music. Here are some artists who agree:

We’ve been big fans of Spotify ever since we got our hands on an early beta version. Spotify was just everything we had ever wished for. Spotify’s got a tight focus and became the main platform for the release of our last studio album, Lorentz & Sakarias. Later on, approximately 90% of our revenue came from Spotify. Prior to Spotify, the music industry had invested in safe bets – popular music, and TV formats such as Idol, but as we, and others with us, reached success on Spotify – the major companies dared to invest in new, more independent-minded music that was aimed towards a younger audience.
– M.Sakarias, artist and producer from the band Lorentz & Sakarias

Independent artists can choose the distributor that best suits them to get their music on Spotify. As with the labels, these distributors govern the specifics of how and when royalties pass-through to artists. Each aggregator makes its own policies clear on its website.

So, whether you’re enjoying their free service or you’re paying one of the subscription fees, you can rest assured that your favourite artists are getting paid for their awesome music and will be rolling out new songs for you.

Until next time, I wish you a delicious day!

Love,
Maddie.

Source: Spotify

Spotify in the news

Two recent developments have caught the eye of  journalists all over the world, and one other improvement to the Spotify mobile app has been announced on their Facebook app page.

The What’s new page has been refurbished and is now called “Discover”. Tina Hart from MusicWeek said:

“Discover personalises a Spotify user’s homepage according to their activity and makes it easier to find new music suited to their tastes, reports VentureBeat. Features of the page include daily personalised recommendations, new releases from ‘followed’ artists, music and playlists shared by followed friends and trendsetters, Songkick local gig alerts and instantly recommended related music when a song is played. The Discover page is currently available on Spotify’s web-based application and will be rolled out to desktop and mobile apps in due course. Spotify chief product officer Gustav Söderström said in a statement: “With the Discover page, we’re making good on our promise of helping you choose what to listen to when faced with millions of songs. We’ve made your listening experience more personal, more social, and more current.” “

discoverSince the article mentioned above was posted 2 days ago, Discover has been introduced to the desktop app users as well, and I must say it’s awesome. I found a few great songs based on the recommendations on the page.

The second interesting announcement that Spotify has released was the partnership with Ford. Chad Kirchner from Gotta be Mobile said:

“At [the] Mobile World Congress, Spotify and Ford announced that they would be partnering to bring a new Spotify app which would support AppLink. AppLink support will allow Ford drivers to access their playlists, move forward and back through songs, and everything else that they can do natively on the phone through the steering wheel or voice commands.

Available now (iTunes link) you can install the latest version of the app and integrate it into the vehicle. To make this connection, your phone must be connected to Ford Sync via Bluetooth and via a USB cable at the same time.

Once linked, pressing the Sync voice command button and saying “Spotify” should be all that is necessary to access all of your Spotify content. Once Spotify is connected and active, the phone will also become unusable; only displaying the Spotify and Ford logo.”

But as most cars now have the native use of the phone integrated in their functions, that shouldn’t be a problem – you’re driving anyway, so you shouldn’t be using your phone, should you?

The third, and most important to me, was the announcement that Spotify has released an updated version of their mobile/tablet app which allows users to “turn sideways” – it has the landscape mode! One of their Facebook fans responded to this post saying “Thankyou SO MUCH for this!!!! As an Android Tablet user I found that turning my head 90 degrees to listen to music was an awful pain in the neck (see what I did there!!!) THANKYOU!!!!! ” and boy his words are true. It appears as the users have been requesting this upgrade for a long time now and many of them are really pleased that their voice has been heard.

How many times has your voice been heard as a customer?

Until next time, have a delicious evening!

Love,

Maddie.

 

Spotify – Tips and Tricks

After learning how Spotify operates and how it makes money, I think it’s time to go back to the user perspective.

The lovely guys from Mashable have compiled a great list of tips and tricks that are designed to make your life as a Spotify user easier. And to make your life as an internet user easier, I will quickly tell you what they were saying :).

1. Discover new music

Try their various discovery apps, such as We Are Hunted, Pitchfork, Hype Machine and Blue Note. When you like particular bands, check out “Related Artists” on their artist pages, and check out Spotify’s “What’s New” tab for new music every Tuesday.

You should also use the Radio function for stations, based on a song, artist, album or even a playlist, and tailor your preferences with likes and dislikes. Also note that once you hit like on a song it will also be added to a playlist called “Liked from Radio” which makes it really easy for you to find it again.

2. Collaborate on playlists

Switch your playlists to a “Collaborative”, share them with your friends and let the music flow in! You’ll be amazed at the songs your friends add. And if you’re not, I think you should get new ones 🙂

3. Listen to music online with the premium subscription

I’ve already mentioned a couple of times that you can save money on internet usage by synchronising your playlists for offline listening. And why wouldn’t you when a good internet connection is not always available?

4. Check Play History and Top Lists

You can check your play history by selecting “Play Queue” in the left-hand toolbar, then toggling to “History” at the top. You can add tracks to your queue by right-clicking and selecting “Add to queue”. You can also select “Top Lists” under Apps, and see what you listen to most by choosing “for me.”

5. Use advanced search modifiers

Similar to Google, you can use certain search modifiers and operators to make your search more advanced. For example, by typing “year:2000-2005,” you can find all kinds of songs between those years, and even make it more specific (e.g., “genre:electronic”).

6. Organise Playlists in folders

Do you know how I mentioned the Playlists that you can use to organise your music? Well, if you find that you have dozens of playlists and your toolbar is starting to get a little convoluted, you can organise them by sorting them into folders. Simply click File > New Playlist Folder, and rename, drag and drop as needed.

7. Import mp3s From Your Computer

Spotify has a pretty expansive music database, but you might not find everything you’re looking for. Import your iTunes library to have all of your tunes in one place. To do this, go to File > Import Playlists, and follow the directions. Depending on how many songs you want to import, this could take a little while.

8. Embed songs online

It’s really simple to share the songs you like on your blog or website. All you need to do is right-click on the song you’re interested in and copy the embed code.

9. Link to a specific part of a song

If you’d like to share a specific point of a song with someone (one minute in, for example), right-click on the song, click “Copy HTTP link” and affix to the URL the time at which you’d like the song to start. See the screenshot for the example “#0:32.”

10. Change Privacy Settings Permanently

Since your Facebook and Spotify accounts are most likely linked, you might run into some trouble: for example, you listen to a ton of One Direction and your Facebook friends publicly mock you – and to be honest I can totally see why. Therefore, instead of entering a private session every time you use Spotify, go to Preferences, then go under “Activity Settings” and uncheck both share settings listed below “Privacy.

11. Find Song Lyrics

If you’re like me and love to sing along with your favourite songs, you’ll love the lyrics apps that come with Spotify. From my knowledge, you have two options: TuneWiki and musiXmatch. My personal preference is musiXmatch because they seem to have the lyrics to most of my favourite songs, as opposed to TuneWiki. With the former, you can create those inspirational pictures with lyrics from songs which is cool, but aren’t enough of those already?

So there you have the most useful tips and tricks you can found in regards to Spotify. Aren’t you impressed yet? If you aren’t then you should read some more…I’ll find a way to impress you!

But until then, have a delicious day.

Love,

Maddie.