Read me, Its free!

Our world as we know it is becoming more digitalised, where access to any information we may need is available almost everywhere online. As a result, much of the online content we come across is of open access which Suber (2015) describes asdigital, online, free of charge and free from almost all copyright and licensing restrictions’.

What are content producers?

Content producers typically oversee the making of content for websites and other online properties. There are many websites such as Wikipedia and YouTube which rely on user-generated content but also allows us to access it free of charge. However, open access affects content producers and could discourage people from publishing their work due to high publication costs.

Open access in Education

This short 3 minute video will briefly explain the idea behind open access and how it is beneficial for today’s society.

Figure 1. Understanding Open Access (via YouTube)

How likely is it that you would pay to access academic literature online? As a student, I can certainly say that I am put off when I come across a journal I want to access yet I am prevented from doing so because of a price to pay. And even if I do purchase an article, I would not know of its relevance until after I pay!

Yet, this is not always the case and for the most part during my time at university, I have encountered various articles, publications and journals which are free for me to use. I have created a video below to highlight key advantages and disadvantages of open access.

Figure 2. Advantages & Disadvantages of Open Access (self-produced via Biteable)

Yet, open access goes further than just academic literature. It can also include the music and film industry.

Open access in the music industry

Figure 3. (Self-produced via Canva)

According to TheDrum (2013), ‘90% of online content is expected to be behind paywalls in the next three years.’ I have come across this article which argues for and against the use of paywalls towards content producers. However, whilst I can appreciate this, I feel as though paywalls are of no help to the digital divide. This is because I believe that open access material should boost the knowledge economy and help increase innovation.


Proponents of open access believe that it has the potential to increase the speed of scientific discovery, encourage innovation and enrich educational experiences such as using MOOCS. For example, I recently had the opportunity to be involved with a MOOC on FutureLearn called ‘Learning in the Network Age’ which is free to sign up for which is not just available to University of Southampton Students but to a wider global audience. It just shows how open access is ‘central to the continuing development of learning and development’ (Hall, 2014).


Word Count: 440


Geib, A. (2013). Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access | Edanz Editing. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

Hall, M. (2014). Why open access should be a key issue for university leaders. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Suber, P. (2015). Peter Suber, Open Access Overview (definition, introduction). [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2017]. (2017). Advantages and disadvantages of Open Access. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2017]



19 thoughts on “Read me, Its free!

  1. Hi Caroline,

    Firstly, well done on a great blog post! I found the video you made to be very engaging and informative. In addition, I like how you branched out to looking at the film and music industry, an idea i did contemplate but chose against pursuing, so was nice to actually see!
    In terms of the discussion to the music industry, what would you stance be on if an artist were to distribute their work completely for free via online downloads- for example say as Chance the Rapper a popular rapper did with his previous albums- would you say (as with the case of open access journals that they can be cited an referenced freely) that the music should be able to sampled and used by another music freely? Or would samples still have to be approved by the musician whose initial music it was? I know the issue of samples causes a big issue within the music industry so look forward to hearing your views!

    Well done on a great blog! I look forward to keeping up with your future blogs!



    1. Hi Jordan,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for your lovely compliments!

      Your question has been very thought-provoking! Chance the Rapper is recognised as the only successful independent artist who has won a Grammy nomination via a streaming-only album and I think it is amazing to see that he has achieved this. In regards to your question, I do agree with you that samples can cause major complications and issues in the music industry. But I do still think if artists want to sample a song, they should still have it approved by the owner of the music. This kind of relates to academic work- you wouldn’t write a whole essay using other peoples theories without referencing them, right? What are your thoughts on this?

      Thanks again,


  2. Hi Carolina,

    I really enjoyed reading your post; the structure was clear and the coverage of academic research as well as the music industry helped to make it well-rounded.
    Additionally, I found the first video by Wiley extremely interesting, in my post I suggested that a way to overcome paid access and publication costs could be to bring down the cost of academic research to the public, so it is affordable yet researchers can still acquire some revenue. However, I was unaware that funders sometimes provide the money to cover publication costs which is also a great solution.

    I also agree with your stance on paywalls; they do increase the digital and socio-economic divide, which is pretty redundant because like you said; you do not know if an article is useful until after you’ve read it.
    Furthermore, you suggest that the free tiers available on Spotify which often interrupts the playlist through advertising is a useful way to overcome paywalls. Although this is true, I think it is also important to note that Spotify only uploads music from labels and distributors which is disadvantageous for the independent artist (
    In addition, Spotify’s editorial tastes and recommendations lean toward corporate-funded labels at the expense of the little guy ( which goes back to the problem of paid access and the need to be published in the “best journal” in order to gain exposure; so as Taylor Swift suggests perhaps, free music streaming services are not all they advertise themselves to be.

    In cases like this, do you think that a service like Tidal which is more expensive than Spotify but is produced by artists and allows for greater exposure is a more economic service to use?




    1. Hi Raziya!

      Thank you so much for your comments, I’m really glad you’ve appreciated how I tried to incorporate other industries and not just stick to the theme of education!

      Having looked at the first link you’ve included in your comments, I wasn’t aware that Spotfiy did this, which confuses me as Chance the Rapper has his latest album ‘Coloring book’ on it and he is an independent artist. I guess this is something worth looking into!

      To reply to your question, although you suggest that Tidal may give artists greater exposure, I still think that it can be unfair for those fans who can’t afford to pay for Tidal. In addition, there has been criticism by recording artists like Lily Allen who fears that this streaming service can result in ‘crippling the music industry and increasing piracy.’

      Furthermore, the decision Kanye West made to only stream his album ‘The Life of Pablo’ on Tidal led to critisim from fans who also felt that it would promote piracy. As a result, he later made it available to other streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. However, this article shows how fans felt betrayed at having paid for a Tidal subscription.

      What are your thoughts on this?


      1. Hi again,

        Carolina, it most definitely appears to be a catch 22. Tidal is better for artists although, they appear to ambush fans into buying a subscription. Additionally, other streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify​ appear to be better for fans.

        I think that artists should utilise YouTube more so fans have a chance to listen to new music before purchasing and that the subscription fees of Spotify​ should be reduced.

        Thanks for your response,



  3. Hi Carolina,
    I was drawn to your post this week by the graphics they look excellent on your blog and support what you are saying. The YouTube video used is very good for explaining in detail what open access is. I like that you have involved your own experiences into the post, I feel as though I can relate to not wanting to pay for something that you do not know is going to be worth it.
    I thought that the video you made was very good, it was clear and very relevant to the topic. The fact that you involved other industries not just academia was very interesting. I myself only use streaming sites so it was very interesting to hear about how they are effected by the artist’s views like Taylor Swift, however this is still not “free” to the listeners, you pay a monthly fee, how do you feel about this?



    1. Hi Charley,

      Thank you so much for your comments!

      To answer your question, I think this is fair as we must take into account how hard artists work for in order to get their music listened to and shared all over the world. Especially there are streaming services like Apple and Spotify who offer student discount which is something I take advantage of! What are your thoughts?

      Thanks again,


  4. Hi Carolina,

    Firstly, I love the title of your post! So in keeping with the theme its brilliant. I agree with you about being put off when having to pay for a journal – sometimes to just have online 24 hour access you can be charged £40! When you say some are “free to use” do you mean they are available online for free or the university has already paid a fee so you can? If it’s the latter to what extent do you think we can call that open access?

    I think your link to Spotify if really interesting. I found this article that adds wider perspective to the debate: I particularly appreciated the comment by Mark Mulligan who compared the value of a stream vs. a download for a song – with a download being 5.5 times more worthy!

    Let me know your thoughts on this.



    1. Hi Rachel,
      Thank you for your comments!

      Firstly, I did at first mean both of what you suggested, however you do raise an interesting question. When I’m at home, if I’m not connected to the University’s portal I can’t access some material without logging into it, so I would say open access can vary at times. Sometimes, I even get cases where I have to email the author to request access to their papers. What do you think?

      Really interesting article you’ve included there. The way I feel about this debate is that most cases seem to paint the idea that streaming services are a bad thing. However, we are living in a digitalised world and it is understandable that streaming services exist due to advancements in technology they need to keep up with. Furthermore, I do feel that to a certain extent streaming services have helped decrease piracy in the music industry. What is your opinion on this?

      Thanks again,

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Carolina,

        Thanks for getting back to me! I think with streaming services there is a lot of negative stigma surrounding them. I personally think they are a great service and have deterred people from illegally downloading songs. However I do understand why artists feel slightly hard done by. I agree with you that this is probably just a sign of technological advancement!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Carolina,

    Excellent blog post. I am interested by the claim alluded to in your post that “90% of online content is expected to be behind paywalls in the next three years” (Lepitak, 2013). Do you think that their claim of this being the case within 3 years is likely to prove true? As you suggested in your post, this could be greatly damaging to the knowledge economy and could harm scientific discovery rates. How do you think it is best possible to reduce the risk of paywalls getting in the way of open access? Do you think we should be trying to protect open access?




    Lepitak (2013), “90% of online content is expected to be behind paywalls in the next three years media company survey suggests”, Available From , (Last accessed 10/05/2017)


  6. Hi Carolina,
    Really enjoyed reading your blog post this week and just wanted to say I loved the title. It was the first thing that drew me to read you blog in-comparison to others as it was different whilst remained captivating.
    I liked how you made a comparison of academia to media which I similarly did. The video used was insightful in understanding what open access is and how it is used.
    I’m also impressed by your honestly in how you stated that often paying for academic journals was not beneficial for you in the long run as you would only use them once.
    Would you say that the introduction of Spotify as a freenium service has promoted or hindered artists? Granted this is dependent on each artist but do you feel that as service Spotify has simply encouraged people to listen to music legally and would this system work for the next 20 years or so?
    Many thank,
    Word Count : 160


    1. Hi Ausaf,

      I am glad you enjoyed my post, thank you so much!

      In regards to your question, I definitely agree that streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify has encouraged people to listen to music legally. The article I have linked below suggests that online piracy has fallen to its lowest rate in years.

      Furthermore, I do believe that Spotify to an extent has helped artists especially those who are not signed with a label, they are able to put their music up on Spotify through companies who can help distribute it for them.



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