MAS 110 Online Essay
By Maddison Colgate (42870151)
Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to Advertising and New Media.
The phenomenon of digital media convergence has detrimentally impacted on advertising in the global music industry. Digital convergence has led to artists and musicians becoming no longer dependant on the marketing function of record companies to establish a strong fan base. The digital convergence of information technologies and applications has caused fundamental advertising concerns, including the illegal copying and downloading of music over the internet via peer-to-peer file sharing programs. Advertising divisions, in order to remain effective, must develop and implement new strategies in response to these concerns in order to create value for consumers regardless of price. Methods include free listening initiatives and the development of legitimate digital music stores like Apple iTunes. Thus, the responsibilities of music advertising has changed since the digital revolution, essentially since the mid 1990s when the internet pioneered, and in order to adapt to new challenges, new marketing business models must be employed.
Both upcoming and renowned artists no longer rely on record companies to create publicity and an established fan base. This is as a result of the digital applications developed through digital convergence that provides all individuals with the ability to “routinely create…share content” (Dwyer, T. 2010, pg.11) over the internet. In terms of the production of music, the internet in combination with home recording devices is equivalent to processes conducted in a recording studio (Elliott, Rundle-Thiele &Waller 2012, pg.428). The advertising and exposure of this content can be spread through podcasting, digital radio websites including Triple J Unearthed, social network sites Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Tumblr, personal websites and through video content using youtube. These digital tools are available through one’s personal computer, mobile phone, laptop, Smartphone, Ipad and so forth. This equal level of capability between music marketer and music consumer is a significant outcome of digital media convergence which has significantly changed the authority of record companies.
Digital convergence has caused imperative concerns for music advertising, including the illegal downloading of music via peer-to peer file sharing programs. Music piracy is in fact responsible for an annual loss of approximately $1.6 billion in the Australian music industry (Elliott etal. 2012, pg.51). Gayer, A & Shy, O. (2005, pg. 478) claims that prior to the digital revolution, different forms of information, whether print, audio or video, were distributed via individual communication channels and required distinct knowledge and equipment. However, the digital era caused these independent media forms to converge, allowing all information to be distributed and copied via the same platform, essentially through the internet.
Furthermore, converged applications including the free peer-to-peer file sharing program Limewire is the means in which music is downloaded on the PC, laptop or Smartphone. “Limewire is known to be the most popular such network in Australia with Music industry Piracy Investigation Pty Ltd suggesting it represents in excess of 60 per cent of file-sharing activity” (McKenzie J. 2009). It was the growth of the internet in combination with peer-to peer sharing tools that ensured “that once an illegal copy of a song was online, virtually everyone could obtain an illegal copy” (Elliott etal. 2012, pg.428), triggering the internet file sharing revolution. McKenzie J. (2009, pg.297), however, believes that “there is no agreed a priori foundation for suggesting that illegal downloading necessarily helps or hinders legitimate sales and the question subsequently remains an empirical one”.
In response to illegal music downloading, music advertising needs to develop new strategic plans that appeal to the needs, wants and desires of consumers that are used to accessing free music products and services. Morrison D. & Sheehan K. (2009) argues the importance of altering methods towards embracing the ‘confluence culture’ rather than resisting its effects. For instance, free listening initiatives attempt to reduce the capital lost from music piracy by increasing revenue in other significant forms like merchandise, concert ticket sales, online music magazines and so on. This is demonstrated in 2008 when “consumers could listen to Oasis’s latest album Dig Out Your Soul free of charge on MySpace prior to release”. Interaction between advertising and customers via social media is used here in order to enhance the levels of sales.
Vaccaro V. & Cohn D. (2011, pg. 48) state that “legitimate online digital music services” are included in the new business model that responds to music piracy, as shown through the introduction of Apple Computers iTunes in April 2003. Cuneo A. (2003) believes that Apple CEO Steve Jobs transformed the illegal copying trend into a “marketing opportunity” through the use of a “dual platform approach” that marketed the iPod in combination with iTunes.
The 2004 Pepsi-Apple iTunes advertising campaign consisted of codes for a free song download that were randomly placed in one hundred million Pepsi bottle caps (Graham, 2004). This importantly acted as the “first major convergent media promotion” that connected traditional media with the internet (Vaccaro V. & Cohn D. 2004, pg.54) and furthermore built awareness of the simplicity of iTunes with each song only costing $0.99, including a CD cover image. Fundamentally, the development of Apple iTunes provided “the ease, flexibility, and affordability that downloader’s are looking for without violating copyright law” (Altschuller S. & Benbunan-Fich R. 2009 pg. 55). Alternatively, Vaccaro V. & Cohn D. (2011, pg.48) also asserts that the “legitimate downloading of music is still just a drop in the bucket compared to the massive…usage of file trading via unauthorized…music services”.
Digital media convergence has highly influenced the advertising of music products and services. Convergence has provided all individuals, through social media, with the opportunity to distribute music and create a fan base without the use of record companies. A key issue that has arised from digital convergence and impacts music advertising is the illegal downloading of music via the internet. Subsequently, advertisers face the difficult challenge of persuading people, who are used to accessing free content, to become paying customers. Whilst successful initiatives have been implemented in reaction to this concern, including legitimate online music stores and free listening strategies, it still remains clear that the development of more innovative solutions is imperative.
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