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Seeking Our eMusic Selves

Seeking Our eMusic Selves

Pooja Satya is applying her scientifically-trained mind to one of the more interesting questions of modern, media-saturated life: How do music fans talk about music, and about themselves in the context of music, in the online communities that emerge from sites like eMusic, iTunes and last.fm.

Biology major Pooja Satya is using the TIP Fellows program to explore her interest in ethnomusicology.

For Pooja Satya, a senior biology major, the main academic priority has always been excelling in the sciences. But Satya, who's applying to medical school for the fall of 2011, didn't want to graduate from the university without also giving some rein to her non-scientific interests, particularly her interest in music. So when she learned about the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP) Fellows program, it seemed like a great way to go one step beyond simply taking some random classes in musicology and ethnomusicology.

With the TIP Fellows plan, she's been able to craft an integrated course of study, work closely with a faculty member from the music department, and apply her scientific mind to one of the more interesting questions of modern, media-saturated life: How do music fans talk about music, and about themselves in the context of music,  in the online communities that emerge from sites like eMusic, iTunes and last.fm.

Satya spoke to fellow TIP-ster Eric Yoon recently about her experience of the TIP Fellows program.

Yoon: First, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Satya: I am first and foremost a science nerd but have an interest in discovering new music. I have been involved in science research in the past through the Freshman Research Initiative and it was rewarding but I wanted to try something new. I am and have been involved with SURGe and helping undergrads get excited about science research. Besides extracurricular activities, I am learning to play the guitar and love needlecraft (e.g. sewing, crocheting, cross stitch, etc.) to de-stress when I need it. I have finished applying to med school so I’m waiting to hear back now.

Why did you join TIP Fellows?

I joined TIP fellows because I was interested in taking non-science classes. I thought it might be interesting to try to tie them together with a Capstone project at the end. I wanted to take the time I had left in my undergraduate career to try to learn something completely new and different.

Describe your research project this summer.

This summer I have been working with Dr. Sonia Seeman from the Music department (specifically Ethnomusicology). My research started out with an interest in how people discover their music and how people transmitted ideas through music. With further research, my interests narrowed to the effect on the Internet on how we talk about music and how people present themselves in online communities that talk about music. I am currently centered on the website called eMusic.com and am hoping to continue explore this idea of self presentation.

Tell us a little about your field of interest and how/why you chose it.

The reason I chose music/ethnomusicology is because I had been exposed to biological research for a while and was interested in learning more about other kinds of research. I decided to stick with it because discovering new music has been an interest of mine for a while and wanted to understand the perspectives that other music enthusiasts held.

Do you plan to draw on what you’ve discovered in your research for your Capstone project?

Yes! I feel like it would be make for a nice end to my senior year although I am sorry to say that I don’t know how I will be doing the Capstone project so I can’t say that I have more of an answer for this. I hope to continue with my current research project and I was talking to Madison about using that as my Capstone but I’m not sure yet.

What kind of interesting things have you discovered during you research into your topic?

If we all haven’t heard this enough, the Internet has changed the way we do business. As far as music, this means the record labels, musicians, advertising, web sites, online communities etc., have all changed. It has facilitated the community aspect of talking about music and sharing ideas. What is really interesting is that people usually don’t have access to information about sex, age, gender, or appearance so people can represent themselves however they want. I am really interested in how people distinguish between being just an indifferent listener to being an expert and subsequently how does this affect their interactions with other members of the community.

What have you personally gotten out of the research process in your studies?

I have really enjoyed finding new music on eMusic and have been amused by some of the posts I have read on their forums. The classes that I have had the opportunity of taking have been enriching because they have given me the right vocabulary to talk about my work or something cool that I have learned.

Are you interested in expanding your research to other online music communities such as Pandora or last.fm and comparing them to the eMusic community?

I was interested in looking into Pandora but it didn’t have an interface for members to interact with each other or editors like I would have hoped. There was no way I could have looked into member use of the site without interviews and I can’t do interviews without first getting an understanding of what I need to ask by observing the interactions (it’s a cycle). I honestly haven’t looked too much into the last.fm forums but decided to go for eMusic because it seemed to be a hybrid of iTunes’ Genius and Pandora which I thought was pretty cool.

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Tuesday, 07 February 2023

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