The Music Video's New Home
'Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to Music Video Online'
It is rare for consumers to turn on the television nowadays to see the latest hit song’s music video. Instead, they head to YouTube available not only on their computer but as an application on a variety of devices including smartphones, portable music devices eg. iPod and tablets eg. iPad. Record labels now upload their band and singers' music videos to branded channels on YouTube for everyone to watch (Hilderbrand, 2007). In this way, YouTube has become the new media platform for what was traditionally found on the old media of television.
The traditional, big budget, stylised music video is no longer the only kind of music video created. In the convergent media environment user generated content has increased with new technologies being readily available and affordable and as a result “anyone can make, borrow or steal a clip” (Barker 2009, p. 142). These clips fall into three types of categories: “copied, appropriated and original” (Hilderbrand 2007, p. 56). Copied content is when snippets of a music video are put into a user’s video without any change, appropriated videos include the use of ‘copyrighted music or footage’ and an original creation might be an amateur musician uploading their own composition (Hilderbrand 2007, p. 56). Appropriated videos are popular with fans who often create lyric videos usually consisting of a song playing, the lyrics displayed and a background of images of the band. Another form of fan appropriation is the trend of remix and mashup videos. A famous example of this was users uploading their version of Beyonce’s video clip- Single ladies. This is a key example of converged media’s participatory nature. Of fans Jenkins (2006, p. 131) says they are the ‘most active segment of the media audience’ because they do not take what they are given as it is but want to have their own input and this is why appropriating occurs.
Music videos are easier than ever to make with smartphones, video cameras and webcams all giving users the capabilities to create a low budget clip and upload it for YouTube to convert it to a Flash format (Aoun, 2007). These videos can go viral with the crossover of social media in place. It can take just one user sharing a YouTube video on their Facebook wall and the rest of their friends doing the same to cause large amounts of hype. The band OK Go demonstrates this phenomenon. They created their video clip for the song “Here it goes again” on a low budget using a video camera and one continuous shot that filmed their choreography on treadmills. All it takes for a popular music video today is a well executed idea and ‘word of mouse’ (Aoun 2007, p. 169) .
Smartphones as previously mentioned play a large role in YouTube use and access. As a key example of digital convergence they combine many different technologies such as a camera, phone, the internet and more which have revolutionised the way users use media. YouTube has an application for smartphones and this gives users a wide range of freedom. If users choose they can have a personal communication experience courtesy of their smartphone (Orgad, 2009). With YouTube on their own device they can privately view content they want in the context they want (Orgad, 2009). Users can watch anywhere they desire without being bound to one location as with PC’s. They can have access to their own private channel if they don’t wish to broadcast publicly and can be interactive with selected users both posting and viewing comments (Orgad, 2009). Also, their experience can be customised by saving favourite videos and creating playlists on the YouTube app. These characteristics demonstrate how digital convergence has broken down barriers of time and space (Orgad, 2009). Users no longer have to work within schedules like when music videos were on Television and they had to tune in at a certain time (Orgad, 2009). Missing out on a favourite music video is not a problem anymore as they can be watched at a convenient time and place.
On the flip side of media’s personalisation aspects are their mass communication capabilities. This is obvious with YouTube which has the slogan of “Broadcast Yourself” connoting the wide ranging reach of their platform. Jenkins (2006, p. 26) claims ‘The age of media convergences enables communal, rather than individualistic, modes of reception’. On a small scale the portability of YouTube such as the app on a smartphone previously mentioned can lead to sociability with a user’s circle of friends. In conversation a user may mention a YouTube music video they have viewed, if none of the group have seen the clip the user can simply take out their phone and play it. On a larger scale a user may post a video on their YouTube channel which is set to public and as a result are set up for mass communication.
Digital convergence has created an availability of multi function devices that conveniently fit in ones pocket. Such devices have allowed platforms such as YouTube to be portable. As a result of this music videos have been taken off the screen of televisions and onto ones that can be viewed and used at any time and place the user so desires, rising above television’s time and space barriers. This type of convergence has created a high level of participatory media and freedom with users able to capture videos with a variety of technologies that will not break the bank and then share them with as many or as little of society as they choose. Digital convergence is a continuous process and is constantly evolving the way users access and interact within the media environment.
Aoun, S 2007, 'iPod and YouTube and everyone we know', Metro Magazine, no. 152, pp. 166-175, viewed 27/8/12, <http://search.informit.com.au.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/fullText;dn=200705513;res=APAFT>.
Barker, D 2009, 'Internet saved the video star: the renaissance of the music video', Metro Magazine, Vol. 160, pp. 140-144, viewed 29/8/12, <http://search.informit.com.au/fullText;dn=200904781;res=APAFT>.
Hilderbrand, L 2007, 'YouTube: Where cultural memory and copyright converge', Film Quarterly, Vol. 61, pp. 48-57.
Jenkins, H, 2006, Convergence Culture, University, Press New York.
Meikle, G & Young, S 2012, Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everday Life, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
Orgad, S 2009, 'Mobile TV : Old and New in the Construction of an Emergent Technology', Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 197–214, viewed 27/8/12, <http://con.sagepub.com/content/14/2/183>