Assessment 3

Produsers in Social Media

By: Xinyi Liu
Class: Kai Soh, Thursdays 12 pm
Core concept

In the age of web 2.0, more and more approaches for producing and distributing content are offered to users (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013), rather than they receive information passively from web 1.0. With the increasing popularity of SNSs like blogs, Facebook and Twitter, participation has become an essential quality of current social media and the audience is taking a more participative role as producers instead of simple consumers, according to Hinton and Hjorth (2013).

The term of users as producers is called “produser”, which is first proposed by Bruns (2008). He pointed out that the produsers are both users as well as producers of information and knowledge (Bruns,2008), taking creative and collaborative participations in generating content even if they do not realize this fact.


In chapter 5 of the book “Understanding Social Media”, Hinton and Hjorth explored how this idea has been conceptualized by different scholars and put into practice with several examples. They first explained that the participation of internet-based media is two-way communication and it includes two aspects: the first one is public response like commenting on a news online, which also exists in earlier media practice and has been widely discussed; the second aspect is the audience as producer, providing original material actively through social media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Next, several academic approaches of this idea are analyzed by the authors, including fan culture, active consumers of, professional amateur and produser. Hinton and Hjorth(2013) pointed out that the initial form of users’ production emerged in the fan communities and the term of produser simplified the concept of users as producers.

Moreover, the authors introduced two related themes, user generated content, which refers to the content disseminated by users and their personal information, and the user created content, which is created intentionally by users for others to consume ((Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). At last, the examples of crowd sourcing, Wikipedia, citizen journalism and online activism are used to illustrate how the produsage influence our engagement with the internet and the society.

Case study

On March 20, 2017, the line 1 subway and Jiangling Road Station in Hangzhou, China turned into fire red with thousands of music comments, attracting widespread concern and discussion both offline and online. This is the “Train of music comment” campaign of NetEase cloud music. 5000 superior music comments from its users with the largest number of “likes” were exhibited on the wall and floor of the subway as well as the station. You could also see the user names of content providers and the songs they are commenting on.`

Some of the comments are full of touching emotions, like “I want to be the one who tells about your life on your funeral.”; some are funny, for example,” I’m alone, so I even don’t want to see two dumplings sticking together intimately.”; others like “The world is so wide, but people always come to narrow of grief.” are poetry and philosophy.

In the meantime, a “Music comment museum” was set up on the NetEase cloud music app and its website. Every time you enter this online museum, ten carefully selected comments will be provided which never repeat. Users could jump to the link of the music being commented.

All the comments showed on the two campaigns are very impressive, and most importantly, they are totally produced by the users. These materials are based on the function of “music comment”, which provides users with an interactive way to participate and generate their original content. There is a comment area below the music player interface where users could post their reflections of specific music publicly, and the comments could be liked and replied by other users. The comments with most likes would be shown on the top of this are. Rather than simply commenting on the music itself, users are more likely to share their stories and feelings resonated by it as produsers. A popular song sometimes could get tens of thousands comment, and a piece of comment can gain tens even more likes.

Besides the comment function, various approaches for being produsers are also provided to users. For example, they can edit music lists with tags of different music types, which could be shared or collected by others, and the popular ones would be recommended at the top of the searching result for certain tags.

In this way, users feel they are engaged with the music and their produsage is valued (Reinhard,2009), thus they are willing to produce more high-quality content constantly. On the other hand, these user generated contents greatly promote the social interaction of audience, as they could communicate with others who have similar taste or the empathy of specific songs or music and share what they have produced on this platform. It is said that the content produced by users pass on a spiritual power, making users have the sense of belonging to a community. The NetEase cloud music does a good job not only on encouraging users to be producers but also on selling this culture with harnessing the enthusiasm and productions of active users as a strategy to attract more audience.

Critique and development

In the digital era, the copyright regime seems to fall into a more serious crisis, and with the flourishing of UGC and UCC, how to protect the produsers’ copyright of such social production has become a challenge (Elkin-Koren,2011).

There is no doubt that the copyright of the original content produced by the users belongs to the users themselves. However, by utilizing some terms and conditions, the copyright is owned by the social media corporations as well (Bird, 2011). In the NetEase cloud music terms and conditions of service, it mentions that when users providing content, they will grant the NetEase a global free license allowing it to use, spread, copy, modify, sublicense, create derivative works, translation, publishing, performing and display such content. This means the NetEase can use the content without paying the provider and even without their consent. The users contribute their labor to creating the content with economic value to the platform, but the profit is never shared with them. Elkin-Koren (2011) pointed out that the current copyright law neither defines the new form of relationship between users and institutions, nor addresses the problems of protecting the large-scale collaboration and the interests of users, which may decrease the users’ motivation and enthusiasm of producing. Furthermore, a worse condition is that the contents on social media are frequently copied and spread by some people like the “marketing account” on microblogs for drawing attentions and seeking personal profit, totally regardless of the copyright. At present, it is extremely difficult to track these people and investigate for their legal responsibility.

In recent years, the social media platforms are making effort to encourage the users to be produsers by providing participatory approaches and lowering the cost of producing. You can easily post a story on the blog, a picture on Facebook or upload a video on YouTube, but appropriating your content could be even easier. At this point, the problem of copyright might become a barrier of sustainable produsage in the future. The use of UGC and UCC should take this issue into consideration, and some licensing standards are expected to be established to protect the rights and interests of the users as producers.



Bird, S. E. (2011). Are we all produsers now? Convergence and media audience practices. Cultural Studies25(4-5), 502-516.

Bruns, Axel. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and beyond: From production to produsage. Vol. 45. Peter Lang, 2008.

Elkin-Koren, N. (2011). Tailoring copyright to social production. Theoretical Inquiries in Law12 (1), 11.

Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Participation and User Created Content. In Understanding Social Media (pp. 55–76). London: SAGE.

Reinhard, C. D. (2009). Discourse swings in understanding audiences. In International Communication Association.


2 thoughts on “Produsers in Social Media

  1. Hi Xinyi, I am quite into the issue you mentioned in the conclusion part. Copyright has been widely discussed on SNSs since we stepped into the digital era. Because of the incomplete network governance system, people who plagiarise others’ work or simply copy something to submit on their social media homepage would not receive serious punishments. Some produsers address that correlative regulations should be set up to protect the right of authors in social media platforms as well as the producers who generate products in reality.
    However, it is a tough problem. Since digital works not only contain the new forms of existing entities you noticed such as music, online articles and CGs, but also some applications and innovative internet products. For those products require technology of computer engineering if the first designer applies for the patent on a string of code, the followers who might have ideas on improving the products must pay a great sum of money to use this code. This situation could be a damage to the balance to a health knowledge economy environment and may cause a business monopoly.
    Nonetheless, the governance of digital copyright is still necessary to be put into society with a rigorous thoughtful consideration.


    Hollifield, C. A., Vlad, T., & Becker, L. B. (2013). The effects of copyright enforcement on production and international trade in copyright products. Australian Journalism Review, 35(2), 87-100.


  2. Hey Xinyi,
    I found your analysis of NetEase Cloud Music’s ‘train of comments’ campaign quite interesting. This campaign can be understood through the scholars Sam Hinton and Larissa Hjorth’s analysis of “place” (2013, pp. 126-127). Hinton and Hjorth define place as not just a geographical location, but also as the cultural and emotional significance tied to the location (2013, p. 126). As you mentioned in your article, the ‘train of comments’ involved NetEase Cloud Music selecting the most liked comments to popular songs and then displaying them on the walls of Hanzhou’s Line 1 stations and trains. Commuters could then read the comments for entertainment or inspiration. Understanding the ‘train of comments’ through Hinton and Hjortth’s description of place, it is interesting to see Hanzhou’s Line 1 as the geographical location wherein thousands of commuters are viewing the same comments, yet also being a location wherein each individual commuter experiences different feelings towards them. Furthermore, in using the scholar Adriana Silva’s term of ‘hybrid spaces’, it would be interesting to see whether certain groups of commuters would have similar connections with the Hanzhou Line 1 comments based on their family or friend’s influences (2013, p. 126). For example, imagine two best friends both share inspiration from a particular song. If both of these friends sees a comment on Hanzhou Line 1 sharing a similar feeling of inspiration from a song, then despite of these friends being surrounded by other commuters viewing the same comment, these friends experience their own unique feeling towards that comment.
    Thanks again Xinyi for such a thought-provoking article.


    Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). Participation and User Created Content. In Understanding Social Media (pp. 55–76). London: SAGE.

    Silva, Adriana in Sam Hinton and Larissa Hjorth (2013). Participation and User Created Content. In Understanding Social Media (pp. 55–76). London: SAGE.


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