Friday, August 31, 2012

Digital Media Convergence and Music Videos

The Viral Phenomenon of online music videos

Rebecca Le Bas 

Digital media convergence is a viral phenomenon that has seen “New technologies become accommodated by existing media and communication industries and cultures” (Jenkins: 2006, pg. 2). Online media distributors such as “Google and YouTube have accelerated and exaggerated these expectations for availability.” (Hilderbrand 2007, p.50) Further, Sheehan and Morrison (2009) explain that "As Internet connectivity and digital capabilities continue to expand across global populations, increasing numbers of online users are expressing their thoughts, desires, interests, and creativity online."

Technology and news can get published on more media platforms, with the same, or fewer resources. This statement has been exemplified through the myriad of products accessible from the one platform. An Apple iPhone is multifaceted technology acting as a music player, camera, GPS, movie player and a phone. The below video is an example of recent television adverts advertising the Apple iPhone and providing great emphasis on it’s many functions. Due to these technological convergences, it has provided changes in the way audiences view music videos.

The online music industry giant’s mark is creating a higher following than television viewers. Youtube is the world’s largest video sharing website and since its birth in February 2005, has created a personalized selling point to market themselves individually to consumers. Individuals from anywhere in the world can produce and distribute their own content and works. The participatory culture created by YouTube has therefore blurred the line between consumer and producer. Simply, non-professionals now have access to production, distribution and exhibition of media and can even outdo professionals. Within modern mediascapes, this become one of the few places where media ownership is dispersed rather than concentrated. Jenkins (2006) however still concludes that corporations have greater influence than individuals overall.

Advertisers of youtube have cleverly marketed the You’ to provide freedom to the user to cater to their daily needs and fixes of television shows, audio and most potently music videos at their disposal. Billions upon billion of users upload music videos everyday to get their name out into the music industry. Internet connections have also meant individuals can collaborate their talents into a band. Fellow youtubers have done just that including “What about Tonight”, an Australian band featured on X factor 2012. The five band members have been marketed as Australia’s answer to global teen heart throbes “One Direction.” Youtube provides a diverse platform to solo and aspiring musicians. Below is a clip of “What About Tonight” performing a cover of Maroon 5’s Hit “Pay Phone.” Youtube has been effectively to market their homegrown success and likeability to the Australian population; the video's already reached 204, 000 views!

“Music video were once the most interesting things that happened in the media  landscape in the 80s and 90s. However,  the golden age of the music video is long gone and the Internet has caused the end of music videos as we know them. But music videos are born again, in a new form, and in a new space, youtube” (Sibilla 2010).

Many popular music video networks on television like MTV and Video Hits that dictated early wakeups on a Saturday morning are dying out. What once used to be all about money through advertisements and investments are now gradually losing viewers due to convergence as a single user can record a show and upload it online to share it to millions of others. Many large music companies are investing online music videos primarily through youtube and VEVO- a partnership has generated a wider audience as over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month. Youtube heavily advertises I Tunes, particularly direct links to buy Itunes music for corresponding music videos. Mainstream artists like One Direction and LMFAO use the video sharing website Youtube to gain exposure as they have profile page, distributing music videos and engaging with their audiences around the globe. The scale of budget is interesting, the high budgeted "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO reached an impressive 409 million views. Ok Go’s “This too shall pass” which was filmed in one take with minimal production costs garnered almost 35 million views. “Online users also enjoy the confidence of authorship as they create content for themselves and others, then share that content as entertainment and information” (Jenkins, 2006). A great benefit of YouTube is that it encourages low budget music videos and artistic interpretation.

Convergent social giant media Facebook is shortening the geographical distance of communication between artists and fan bases. A sense of unity can be created just like Benedict Anderson discusses through his notion of an ‘Imagined Community.' Viewers don't all need to be in the same location, they can be anywhere in the world. Through the convergence of music video and the Internet, it has provided a sense of equality for all artists as potential artists have the opportunity to have their music heard. Triple J Un-Earthed website has also allowed individuals to connect and contact aspiring artists and listen to their music, allowing a larger pool of people to appreciate and link their friends to these artists and diversify the music industry more than ever. Mainstream television music video shows like Video Hits often only facilitated hit songs and chart toppers, excluding fresh talent. A positive outcome of media convergence in regards to music videos is that big artists only get bigger, while the small are provided with opportunity to grow. In the music video online industry, Justin Bieber Fever became a youtube craze through crazy success of “baby" and his latest track "Boyfriend." The video went viral online through means such as Facebook and Twitter, following suite from Rebecca Black’s “Friday” which garnered 27 million YouTube views in 2011. Bieber’s 2010 “Boyfriend” gained over 137 million viewers. 

In conclusion, the phenomenon of digital media has brought great benefits to all media industries. Through technological, cultural and social processes digital convergence has occurred to make media industries such as music video online much more accessible, affordable and enjoyable to the general public. Through the aid of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and self broadcasting sites such as YouTube, amateur musicians have been able to produce, broadcast and control their own music in the digital media scene. The online music video industry has been truly revolutionized as a greater diversity of music genres and artists have reached our accessibility via the internet. The huge media convergent platform that “Youtube” provides will lead to further ventures once unimaginable. 

Reference List

Online Article:
Sheehan, Kim and Morrison, Deborah (2009) Beyond convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world in  First Monday vol 14 no 3 -

Readings from MAS110 Unit Reader

Dwyer, T. (2010) 'Media Convergence' McGraw Hall, Berkshire, pp1-23

Hilderbrand, L. (2007), 'Film Quarterly, Vol 61, 'Youtube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright Converge'' pp 48-57

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. Introduction. pp. 9. New York University Press.

Other Academic Reading
Sibilla, G (2010) It's the End of Music Videos as we Know them (but we Feel Fine), Transaction Publishers, pp 225-229

Real-World Example
Justin Bieber (2012) "Boyfriend", viral music video on Youtube

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