Did the Internet kill the Video Music Star?
The onset of digital media convergence has raised a few ideas of thought on new digital media. One of these is that digital media will replace or make redundant, older forms of media, such as film, radio and in my particular case study, music videos. However by discussing the phenomenon of digital media convergence I look to uncover some of the real implications of digital convergence and its impact on music videos.
To begin this discussion I will talk about what digital convergence is and then give examples as to how it has affected music videos.
Digital Media Convergence
Digital media convergence is the overlapping and blending of how information is delivered and where. However, digital media convergence is not only limited to the change in distribution methods. From a content perspective, all digital content is digitized into products of millions of formatted ones and zeros, making the physical content all the same. Where the audience once were only able to read the news buy buying a physical copy of the paper, that had been printed via a printing press the night before, they can now read it on an Iphone or Ipad on their way to work. Digital media convergence has given the ability of consumers to obtain multiple services on a single platform or device or obtain any given service on multiple platforms or devices. (Dwyer 2010)
Dwyer (2010) suggest that higher bandwidth Internet will only see it more and more common for people to access their favorite TV shows or Internet sites no matter where they are. In the same way, where once the people had to tune into their cable TV prescription to watch broadcast selected music videos on MTV, channel V and other music stations, they can now watch them on streaming sites, such as YouTube, in the context of their own demand. This raises the important question. Did the phenomenon of digital media convergence kill the music video star?
Who Killed the Video Star?
Whilst digital media convergence in theory may not have killed the music video star, its main side effect of giving power to the user, has changed the role played.
Before digital media convergence, music videos were mainly used as advertisements for music or the artist. Music videos used to be profitable and effective because when the consumer watched a music television broadcast station, such as MTV, the nature of the station forced the viewer to watch whatever music videos they put on the video playlist. What this created was an unsolicited sales pitch of all kinds of music, genres and artists. Much like a stream of television ads, specific for music. (LAvideoFilmmaker 2012)
Due to the change in nature of viewing music videos, there is no longer the ability to make real money from music videos. This is as post digital media convergence music videos are often made by artists as vanity projects, in hope that they go viral. The reason it has less advertising power for the artist and possibly their music labels, is because if you put a music video on YouTube, it is more than likely that the audience were looking for that specific artist. As less music videos are found by accident, it is unlikely that the video will generate net growth of the fan base.
So has digital media convergence killed the video star completely?
Whilst there is less appeal in making music videos for advertising purposes, the artistic value of the music video for entertainment purposes may still exist.
An example is the music video by Gotye that went viral, receiving 2 million hits on Youtube, in the initial stages of the video being uploaded. This was after his song had gone number one in the US. Therefore, almost in reverse, the publicity of the song generated interest for the music video, the artists in it and also for the filmmaker Natasha Pincus. (ABC 2012)
Somebody That I Used To Know Video
Future for the Music Video Star
By looking at how the convergence of digital media has affected the mass media market, we can see that music videos still have a place in it.
Twenty years ago, most people thought that digitalisation would lead to a mass consolidation and merger of all media infrastructures into one vertically integrated monopoly. Hence creating a one-stop shop for all mediums of communication. Whilst device wise this may be happening, content wise the exact opposite can be said. Cheap, abundant processing power is promoting disintegration and specialization along the communications value chain. (Mueller 1999)
Successful firms are moving away from end-to-end, vertical integration to focus on specialized, horizontal segments of the market. This results in abut a completely new media system that accommodates to the specificity of individual consumer needs. (Mueller 1999)
This has paved the way for integrated music video viewing, on sites and blogs, specific to music. For example, the MTV website hosts many music videos as well as music news and other artist information, providing the audience with an online music channel experience that is user friendly and user controlled. This is also a unique way for music that is not yet on the radar of certain audiences, to by discovered and marketed.
In conclusion, it is evident that the phenomena of digital media convergence has not necessarily killed the music star, however changed the role played in the distribution of music. Due to the power of control shifting to the user, music videos are more an artistic or entertaining extension of an artist’s music rather than a marketing tool for their music.
- Mueller, M 1999, Digital Convergence and its Consequences, The Public Vol.6, http://javnost-thepublic.org/article/pdf/1999/3/2/ viewed 31 August 2012
- Dwyer, T 2010, Media Convergence, Mcgraw Hill, Berkshire, pp: 1-23
- ABC; Radio National 2012, Gotye's Music Video Goes Viral, Australia, viewed 31 August 2012, http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandartsdaily/gotye27s-music-video-goes-viral/3968410
- LAvideoFilmmaker 2012, Why Music Videos are Dead, LA, viewed 31 August 2012 http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/business/why-music-videos-are-dead.html