Friday, August 31, 2012

Digital Media Convergence Essay

MAS 110 - Digital Media Production
Beau Quick SID 42841402

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

The standard technically-oriented definition of media convergence used by the UK's convergent media regulator is "the ability of consumers to obtain multiple services on a single platform or device or obtain any given service on multiple platforms or devices" (Dwyer 2010:4). We see these new ideologies of convergence taking place, as we examine the world of Music Video online. Through this essay I will analyse, the birth of music video and it's subsequent decline due to media convergence and how this then paved the way, for a greater distribution of music videos and music related user-videos to be produced without the means of great financial support.

At the end of the first decade in the third millennium, "newspaper circulation, TV audiences and advertising revenues were all in slow decline" (Dwyer 2010:3), due to the privilege of media convergence experience by everyday consumers. Convergence, describes "the flow of content across multiple media platforms ... and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want" (Jenkins 2006:18) but this circulation of media content across different media systems depends heavily on active consumer participation. This is where the Youtube phenomenon comes in; a site dedicated to streaming videos, where anyone can upload, comment, rate, favourite and subscribe. It's user-generated content for other users of the media service resulted in a great deal of active consumer participation. This is an example of where the old traditions of Music Video were overthrown by new ideas of media convergence. For instance, back in 1981 when MTV aired  for the first time, they gave their channel the original tagline, "You'll never look at television the same way again" (CNN 1998) and rightly so, with never before seen music videos appearing on television 24/7 using on-air hosts called VJs. The debut music video of the channel was the synonymous hit 'TV Killed The Radio Star' by The Buggles. Without knowing it, the producers had already made a prediction about the history of media and its format. MTV was the only channel that consumers could watch music videos on and this made for a community streamlined towards watching music videos solely on the television. But "the days of MTV having anything to do with music began winding down in the mid-eighties and eventually ground to a halt in the late nineties" (Robinson 2010:1). With the explosion of the Internet, the music industry was profoundly effected.

(the debut of 'Video Killed the Radio Star' by the Buggles on MTV)

Let's look at the current generation, only a couple of decades on, yet you can now watch those same music videos, on your television, or on the internet, or even on your iPhone while on the bus or train, while texting at the same time. That's a giant leap in only a couple of decades. Now, convergence of media has enabled everyone to locate the means and the services that they require, such as music videos, whenever they want. Media convergence in turn, has become a necessity for media companies wishing to fulfil the needs and desires of everyday consumers. 

Convergence represents "a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content" (Jenkins 2006:18) but our way of thinking of convergence is also changing, especially due to popular culture's impact on the relationship between producers, media audiences and content. To draw an example from Youtube again. It has combined audiovisual media with social networking; in turn, this allows for the sharing of completely original material, straight from the people producing it to the media's audience. It has become "the go-to website for finding topical and obscure streaming video clips" (Hilderbrand 2007:48) and it has seen a great success due to it's user friendliness. Music video in it's heyday represented the pinnacle of musicianship, only the big names in music had music videos made for them, and they were only displayed on television beside actors, models and politicians. Youtube has allowed the audience to create and share their own original content, transnationally with a click of the mouse. If we think back to the birth of MTV, any artist pursuing a career in music, would be struggling to find solid ground in a sea of voices who all wanted to be heard. It would have been impossible to share your musical talent with the world, if not for streaming video and this convergence of media. 

In some cases, a video on YouTube obtains numerous views quickly, due to sharing, commenting, favouring and embedding videos, causing them to go 'viral'. Some people have even achieved fame from YouTube, such as rapper Hopsin.  Hopsin has gained high popularity on YouTube where many of his songs accompanied with music videos are uploaded, most remarkably 'Sag My Pants', uploaded in October 2010, and 'Ill Mind of Hopsin 4', uploaded in July 2011, with the former having over fifteen million views and the latter having over fourteen million. On July 18, 2012, his 27th birthday, he released 'Ill Mind of Hopsin 5', which received over 10,000,000 views within a month. In 2007, he was signed to deceased rapper Eazy-E's record label Ruthless Records and in 2009 founded his own record label Funk Volume. Hopsin's success was greatly due to the user-friendliness of YouTube and the ability to share his original content transnationally. This example shows how convergence of media has allowed for greater sharing of original user content to the world of the web.

(Hopsin talks about his buzz and success due to the online community.)

(An example of one of Hopsin's songs gone viral. 'Ill Mind of Hopsin 5" has achieved over 11 million views in little over a month.)

Through the birth and decline of Music Television (MTV), we saw a greater emergence of aspiring musicians and acts, sharing their material with the internet in the hopes that someone, or everyone will see it. Although media convergence in a way killed the originality of the music video, it has paved the way for a new generation of music video online to be experienced. 'If the histories of communications technologies have taught us anything, audiences rarely adopt and use media in the ways they were originally envisioned" (Hilderbrand 2007:48).

Word count: 995


Dwyer, T. (2010). Introduction. Media Convergence. McGraw Hill: Berkshire, 
pp. 1-23.

Hilderbrand, L. (2007). YouTube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright Converge. Film Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 1, pp. 48-57.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Introduction: “Worship at the Altar of Convergence” in Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York University Press: New York.

MTV changed the music industry on August 1, 1981 at music-vidoes-beavis-mtv-crowd? Retrieved 29 August, 2012

Robinson, I. (2010). Analysing the End of Music Television at

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