Friday, August 31, 2012

Digital Media Convergence Essay (20%)

Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to Music Video Online.

“Media convergence is the process whereby new technologies are accommodated by existing media and communication industries and cultures…(Dwyer, 2010, pp.2), Using this definition one can assess the digital convergence of many media forms, including that of music video online. This phenomenon was revolutionary, especially the development of this medium into a digital form. By examining the historical development of this medium, investigating the role it plays within our culture today, and by assessing its impact on various media platforms it is clear how music video online has converged to be the digital media form that it is today.

Music videos have come a long way since their most basic form in 1894, when actors and electricians created imagery and performances to complement sheet music (Garcia, 1998). Today, music videos have transformed into a mix of the weird and the wonderful. Whether they use imagery to translate the lyrics of a song, or simply jump across treadmills like the Ok Go! music video that went viral on YouTube in 2006 with over 50 million hits (Dakss, 2009). 

2009 Music Video - Ok Go! (Here it Goes Again)
Regardless of the style, they are successful marketing tools that have changed the way we interact with music, by including a visual element. One of the more important moves within the industry was the introduction of the television. Networks across the world began producing television shows including the Australian hit Countdown in 1974, which would air popular music of the era, and their music videos (Skatena, 2005). This program among others, predated the infamous MTV (Music Television) channel by seven years (Kugel, 1998).
As technology has developed, advances were made in conjunction with music video production. These changes led to music videos being produced into digital form, beginning the digital convergence of music videos, and transforming them into a compatible online format. In the early 1980’s video recording devices became more portable and much easier to use. This era also encountered the use of special effects within music videos.
The most important development to this online media form was of course, when the Internet became video friendly. The World Wide Web had been functioning for a few years before the website iFilm launched in 1997 which allowed users to watch short video clips, including music videos (Collier, 2000, pp.14). Napster’s entry 1999 as a file-sharing site, allowed users to interact with one another, in the first interactive platform that played music videos. MTV and several other sister channels had stopped broadcasting music videos, in favour of reality television shows by 2004 (Thompson, 2012). A new website saw this break in the music video broadcasting market and launched the iconic website, YouTube in 2005.
The convergence of music videos to an online platform has caused other older mediums that were once used to broadcast music videos has become obsolete. This was the case with the introduction of YouTube and impacted negatively upon televised music video channels (Cashmore, 2006). McCain believes that YouTube’s success relies on its “unique video form” and interactive environment…(McCain 2003 pp.2). Others, including Hilderbrand, believe it was their practically non-existent advertising schemes contributed to its instant popularity and “…Rather than being promoted by multi-million-dollar campaigns … YouTube became popular by word of mouth…” (Hilderbrand, 2007, pp.48). This website changed the way users, artists and society would experience music video forever.

Lady Gaga's 2010 hit 'Telephone' 

These technological changes to music video and its gradual convergence to an online digital format have resulted in several cultural changes. Many music videos now come with parental warnings for explicit content including sexual references and nudity. This has ethical implications as users can access much of this content through their free YouTube accounts. Although warning and age limits are in place, they are not enforced regularly enough and several music videos of this nature have been extremely controversial. Lady Gaga’s music video for the 2010 hit Telephone caused much debate among critics of music videos. (Burgerstein, 2010) These productions have made many members of society sceptical of the industry and question whether or not music videos of this nature should be available online. This criticism contradicts the otherwise positive development and convergence of music videos.

Smartphones and other media devices have 
changed the way we experience music videos.

These days, it would seem that most artists produce music videos and release them on multiple platforms that are easily accessible to audiences. By having these videos in a digital format, it “…Allows content to be made for distribution over several ‘platforms’…” (Dwyer, 2010, pp.2) which makes a huge difference when people are using so many different media platforms simultaneously, especially in conjunction with mobile devices, such as smart phones.

Itunes and YouTube Converge

Although YouTube was fairly revolutionary in its format, it is important to remember that other media sharing websites do exist and provide users with music videos online. Notably, Apple Electronics launch of iTunes in 2003 also released several music videos free for download from their iTunes store. In Australia, one can now expect to pay between AUD$2.50 and $4.50 for individual music videos (Apple iTunes, 2012). iTunes and Youtube have converged their own technologies and users can now use a direct link to purchase the music video within the iTunes store from the Youtube page. One of the key players within the online music video sphere is VEVO. VEVO broadcasts the majority of their videos through YouTube and
Google Video where artists are provided with their own VEVO channels. This is one way both VEVO and artists are able to create advertising revenue (Stelter, 2009).

Public uncensored feedback connects
audiences and fans directly.
“Media convergence is more than simply a technological shift.” (Jenkins, 2006, pp.24)…Jenkins notes that the cultural shift in music videos has impacted on the way we interact with media. YouTube for example provides an interactive environment in which users can like, rate or simply comment on specific music videos  and remain practically anonymous. This technology has broken down communicative barriers between audiences and artists providing musicians with instant feedback. Artists also have the ability to reply to this feedback directly or post video responses to audiences, which can be used for public relations purposes. “This circulation of media content- across different media systems…depends heavily on consumers active participation...” (Jenkins, 2006, pp.68). This active participation Jenkins mentions enables audiences to have more power in selection and wider access to digital music video content across a broad range of technologies.

Therefore, it is clear that the phenomenon of music videos converging to an online digital format and platform have enabled a wide range of benefits including increased direct interaction between music artists and their fans. The historical context of this media form demonstrates the gradual process of convergence and has reshaped the way we experience music and video completely.

References: (2012) Apple - Press Info - iTunes Store Top Music Retailer in the US,, 31/08/2012.
Burgess, J, and Green, J. (2009) Youtube: Online Video and Participatory Culture, New York, Polity Press pp.1-14.
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Collier, M. (2000) The Ifilm Digital Video Filmmaker's Handbook: Pre-Production. Lighting, Digital Video, Editing and More, New York, Lone Eagle Publishing Company, pp.14-15.
Dakss, B. (2009) Here Goes 'Ok Go' Again. CBS News, February 11th. , 30/08/2012.
Dwyer, T. (2010) Media Convergence, McGraw Hill, Berksire, pp 1-23

Garcia, L. (1998) - Video Index, , 31/08/2012.
Hilderbrand, L. (2007) 'Youtube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright
Converge', Film Quarterly, Vol 61, pp 48-57.
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture, New York University Press, pp.68.
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture, New York, New YorkUniversity Press, pp 1-24.

Kluger, C. (1998) The Creation of an Icon: MTV, 30/08/2012.
McCain T.A (2003), The effect of body type and camera shot on interpersonal attraction and source credibility, paper presented at Speech Communication Association, New York, New York, 2003 pp. 1-17.

Meikle, G, and Young, S (2012) Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everyday Life, Palgrave Macmillan pp. 48-49. (2011) Big moments in the history of MTV - Entertainment - Television -,, 31/08/2012.
Mundy, J. (1999). Popular music on screen: from Hollywood musical to music video. Manchester, Manchester University Press, pp. 1-5.
Scatena, D. (2005) Clip Go the Years. The Sydney Morning Herald, February 26th, , 30/08/2012.
Shetler, B. (2009) Music Industry Companies Opening Video Site . The New York Times, December 7th, 30/08/2012.
Thompson, R. (2012) How MTV's 'Real World' paved the way for reality TV twenty years ago. Fox, June 3rd, , 30/08/2012.
Vidyarthi , N. (2010) A Brief History Of MTV, Vevo, YouTube and the Online Music Video. The Social Times, Spetember 23rd, 26/08/2012.
YouTube- LadyGagaVEVO (2010) YouTube - Lady Gaga - Telephone ft. Beyoncé,, 31/08/2012. (2009) YouTube - OK Go - Here It Goes Again, , 31/08/2012. (2011) YouTube - Broadcast Yourself ,, 21/08/2012. (2012) YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.. [online], 21/08/2012


Culpan, P, (2012) Iphone 5,, 31/08/2012.
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Unknown, (2012) Vevo is Live,, 31/08/2012.
Unknown, (2012) YouTube Icon,

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