Friday, August 31, 2012

Digital Media Convergence - Online Music Video.

Digital Media Convergence.

Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to one of the following: Advertising & New Media or Music Video Online
Digital media convergence is a phenomenon in our world that has occurred quite swiftly, with very little people actually noticing what was happening. It is something we have all become accustomed to as it developed, and quite simply, just went along with as new technologies became introduced. Jenkins (2006) best describes digital media convergence, stating that it is “the flow of content across multiple media platforms… (and) the cooperation between multiple media industries.” This idea is best explored when looking at the convergence of music videos online. Through this media, it can be seen how the content “flow” between different media can create greater success and have more impact on both the producer and consumer of the product. To explore this we need to look at some online music video successes, and two that really represent these ideas are Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video, and as unfortunate as it may be, “Friday” by online music video “sensation”, Rebecca Black. Both show different aspects of the online music video, and help to explain the phenomenon of convergence.

Before delving into the examples of the convergence of online music videos, what convergence is should be discussed. Other then simply being a flow across media platforms, convergence requires consumer’s active participation as well as allowing multiple media functions to be brought together on one device. (Jenkins 2006) This shows that that convergence occurs not only in certain media productions, but also in technologies. The best example of this would be the mobile phone, where we are able to access almost anything, in the one place. The online music video is basically the convergence of music, image and the internet. Music videos are not new, but are an example of convergence themselves, as they bring images to the music, people could only once hear on the radio. Having music videos online, on popular sites such as YouTube (which is what will be discussed as the centre for online music video in this essay), the music industry is able to better gauge popularity of music through things like views, thus introducing the consumers participation. The more views a video has is likely to contribute to the success of a popular artist, through a high amount of people viewing it and eventually the more “copy cats” there becomes. These copies keep the music in people’s minds and can bring more attraction to the original. The convergence of music video to online can be beneficial to consumers as they are able to access it when they want. The short length (3-5min) of music videos allows them to be good for people on the go. “Music is thought to be especially suited to the small screen and ‘snacking’ mobile users.” (Orgad, 2009) Online music videos allow people today to witness the effects and changes the phenomenon of digital media convergence has had on industries.

Digital media convergence can have both negative and positive influences to its contributors. As mentioned, online music video as a form of digital media convergence can affect the success of an artist. Music video is “generally seen as promoting record sales which will result in mechanical royalties” (Gordon, 2005) The music industry has become accustomed to portraying an image and a lot of this has to do with online music video. More people are actually watching the artist rather than simply listening and it allows for certain images to relate directly to the music when heard without the actual video. A highly successful online music video is Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video clip or “Promo Video.” (Gordon, 2005) 

While this video was also shown as a music video on TV, it gained its most success through YouTube.  The official clip currently has a viewer span of over 189 million, but this is not all that shows its success.  This video is greatly successful due to, with digital convergent technology, people being able to pause, rewind and re-watch the clip over and over again, which allowed them to then imitate it. Without this ‘on-demand’ technology, and the ability to then repost imitation clips, the images now very familiarly associated with this song may never have been so popular. The video's copies do not have a demographic and draw in all different types of people. Here are three very varied examples. 

A high dance quality "flashmob",

A middle aged mans, home video..

And the youngest of them al,l a baby, not quite imitating, but enjoying the Beyonce spectacle all the same.

Here is just a very small number of imitation videos that appear on google when it is searched, and only a very small percentage of the videos out there. 

 There aren’t many people who don’t want to shake their hand or make a punching motion when they hear this song. This clip also had an essence of controversy surround it when the one and only Kanye West, claimed it to be “the best video of all time” at a video music award show when Beyoncé had not won the award. This controversy alone contributed to many more viewers of the clip as it gained a sense of hype. Was the clip really was the best clip of all time? The views and imitators may side with Kanye’s opinion. Beyoncé’s “single ladies” is an example of digital media convergence in the online music video and how it can impact success.

Digital media convergence can also lead to success for an individual, for all the wrong reasons. There is some sort of enjoyment today in watching ‘trash,’ which people share around eventually reaching large groups. Often, due to the humour, embarrassment and entertainment of these videos, these videos go viral. While they may not gain as many views as top artists achieve, they gather popularity at an incredibly fast rate. Without convergence, these videos may never even be seen, as they would not be noticed in the industry. But alas, the world of YouTube allows any music to be heard, whether it is heard by one or millions, everyone deserves a shot, right? And thus we are left with people like Rebecca Black, who was discovered purely due to YouTube and a general sense of dislike for her song “Friday” that for sometime became the anthem of the day, every Friday. 
(Time to have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day..) 

 While people dislike the song, its success cannot be denied. Not only did it rack in over 30 million views, but the spectacle of Rebecca Black was used by other celebrities to gain more recognition themselves and gave Ms Black the opportunities people would dream of, all because she achieved fame for being, well, bad. The online video clip for “Friday” reinforces how media convergence opens doors for different types of success and creates scenarios that may never have occurred without it.

Overall, the convergence of music videos to the online world, has allowed for some influential moments in the music industry whether it before for all the right, or wrong reasons. Through having music videos online, not only can a sense of a song or an artist’s popularity be gauged, but artists are able to promote themselves easier through image and allow consumers of music to be more actively involved, particularly in the form of imitation. Online music video, significantly shows one impact that digital media convergence is having in society today.

Reference list: 

1. Gordon, S (2005) The Future of the Music Business: How to succeed with the new digital technologies. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. p.51&52.
2. Jenkins, H (2006) Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide. New York University Press.  p:18&19
3. Orgad, S (2009) 'Mobile TV: Old and new in the construction of an emergent technology' Convergence, vol 15, no 2, p: 206&207

All clips from: 

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