Friday, August 31, 2012

Digital Media Convergence: Music Video Online

Digital Media Convergence: Music Video Online

To actively gain an understanding into the phenomenon of Digital Media Convergence one must acknowledge that it encompasses far more then a technological focus. Other factors that must be considered include the Political, Economic, Social and Cultural and how they intersect with the evolution of the Media Industry.
The shift from the Analogue to Digital Age is set to have a profound impact on the Media world and its spectators. There will be a surge in the amount of information instantly available, the creation of new tools and mediums to access and store it, as well as a greater capacity to expand to new audiences. The “Access to new media, and especially to mobile and online media, means that people are able to organise their everyday contacts and their personal, leisure and work activities while on the move” (Dwyer 2010: 6). In order to thrive, traditional media companies – radio, print and television must evolve at a steady rate to ensure that certain age demographics are not discriminated against and are able to adjust from the old media and adapt to the new.
Economically speaking these mass media companies are not about replacing current media technologies but rather integrating them with the new in order to expand its potential customer population. After all Digital Convergence will impact on the company’s ability to be an efficient and practical business – Change can imply the restructuring of the organisation, jobs opening and closing, removal of unnecessary facilities and equipment – often impacting the next stage in media practices. With the development of multi-operational media devices and an advanced infrastructure Benkler believes that this combination will “lower many of the traditional costs of producing, distributing, and consuming media” (Moore 2010: 182). 
One example of this steady evolution of media convergence can be observed through the concept of Music Video.
Many associate the concept of Music Video with the creation of MTV in 1981, after the ‘Radio Star’ was murdered. The idea behind linking two of the most popular pastimes together began long before – it is about emphasising the experience being had by the audience in relation to the media focus whether it is film, television or music. Judy Garland sang in The Wizard of Oz, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John started the Grease phase. The Beatles started a frenzy in the United States after their 1964 performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Australia enjoyed the success of popular talent shows such as Bandstand, Countdown and more recently Rage, which launched acts such as Johnny O’Keefe, Skyhooks and Silverchair. One of the most notable shows of all time, a prime example of Music Video and an incredible feat of media convergence was the creation of Live Aid. With an “estimated 1.5 billion viewers across 100 countries watched the shows in what was one of the largest – scale satellite linkups and live television broadcasts of all time” (Wyman 2008: 158). These concerts saw $90 million raised for famine relief in Africa; subsequent funds were made with the release of the CD and video (later on DVD).

Examining Live Aid from a more digitalised perspective, one could draw on the fact that while it was for an important cause, the significance of an event this large would diminish slightly because it is no longer a one-time experience. The music, television and film industries are funded through commissions, royalties (‘performance, synchronization, print, and foreign’) and advertising sponsors (Loizoides 2010: 128), and with the evolution of p2p and social networking as well as video archives like Youtube, it means viewers control when, where and how they view it and whether or not they will pay. As mentioned by Nightingale, the major challenges associated with emerging digital media is understanding and enforcing intellectual property laws to ensure content protection, especially as the threat of video sharing, illegal downloads and production increases (Dwyer 2010).

Copyright has been at the centre of the intellectual property debate for sometime. To examine in greater detail the effects digital convergence is having on Music video, one must look no further then the creation of Youtube, who’s slogan “Broadcast Yourself” gives the user free range in how they create, control and use the media.  This can be seen as both a problem and saviour. In regards to music videos, there lies a mix of original and unauthorized content – Numerous parodies, celebrity collaborations and musical talent (Lonely Island feat. Akon, Justin Timberlake etc, Beyonce’s Single Ladies) where artist/creators are being acknowledged but by an interpretation that differs from the original.


The major problem stems from the user ‘plagiarising’ footage from various media forms and uploading the video online (Still pictures with music playing in background). What makes it worse is the creation of websites such as, and, which allow users to download and convert youtube content to personal media devices without paying a cent. “Youtube has become one of the most prominent and popular sites where what’s actually legal law is being contested and potentially curtailed” (Hilderbrand 2007: 56).

Other sites such as Facebook and Myspace act as a legitimate advertising mediums for the music industry through BandPage and Myspace Music. As an advertising medium they allow the free streaming of music and videos online with the consent of major, independent and budding artist in a bid to promote their work to a wider cultural audience.

“The traditional media of television, radio and the press are all evolving along with the rising popularity of new media forms” (Dwyer 2010: 14). It is this convergence of digital media that sees an evolution in human interaction and communication, how people understand, learn, create and exist through media. “Old media never die” (Jenkins 2006: 23), and through it’s integration with new media and technology Digital Convergence becomes quite contradictory because as problems disappear, new problems emerge as seen through the study of Music Video Online.

Reference List

Mas110 reader
Dwyer, T 2010, “Media Convergence” McGraw Hill, Berkshire, pp 1-23
Hilderbrand, L 2007, “Youtube: Where Cultural memory and Copyright Converge”, Film Quarterly, vol. 61, pp. 48 - 57
Jenkins, H 2006, “Convergence Culture: Where Old & New Media Collide”, New York University Press
Online Recommended Readings
Orgad, S 2009 'Mobile TV: Old and new in the construction of an emergent technology' Convergence, vol. 15 no. 2 pp. 197-214. Viewed 26th August 2012, Sage Journals.
Own Research
Heatley, M 2008, “Reader’s Digest: Where were you when … the music played?” The Reader’s Digest Association, Adult Trade Publishing, Pleasantville NY.
Loizides. L 2010, “The Fat Lady Still Sings: Bringing Music into the Digital Age”, Transitioned Media, The Economics of Information, pp. 123-134. Viewed 27th August 2012.
Roberts, D & Foehr, U 2008, “Trends in Media Use”, Future of Children, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 11-37. Viewed 28th August 2012, EBSCOhost.

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