Friday, August 31, 2012

Online music video

Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to Music Video Online
Georgia Turner - 42858100

Convergence “transgresses the accepted boundaries of media formations” (Russo, 2009)

Remember the rage of having to wake up really early in the morning to see your favorite artists new music video on television? Close your eyes and imagine a world where you can sit down at your laptop, open up the Internet and be one click away from viewing any video you can possibly imagine at any time of day. Now open them… welcome to the Age of Convergence. “Media convergence is the process whereby new technologies are accommodated by existing media” (Dwyer, 2010).  This essay will discuss the impact of convergence on the music industry and the rise of music video. Furthermore, the use of online media platforms in globally distributing and promoting audiovisual content will be examined.

Nowadays, online music video is a means of global music distribution, which promotes the music industry in a positive way, however initially, online music streaming had a negative effect on the industry. Before media convergence, control lay in the hands of a few record labels whose profits relied on their exclusivity of delivery (Coats, Freeman, Given, & Rafter, 2000). However, the introduction of digital distribution and more specifically, the Internet, as Coats et al. predicted, has had a severe impact on such companies. In addition to copyright issues, online streaming has negatively impacted the sales of music. Once a particular CD has been uploaded to the Internet, it can be reproduced at no cost and circulated around the world for free access to all Internet users (Balaban, 2001). Thus, the Internet deems hardcopy music sales obsolete causing a huge loss of profit for the industry giants. This online music phenomenon began in 1993 when ‘Internet Underground Music Archive’ (IUMA) was created by college students in an attempt to spread their own music at low-cost (Coats et al., 2000). A vast array of music streaming websites followed this initial method of music distribution but none were as successful as YouTube.

YouTube has impacted all media industries since 2005 through its availability, immediacy and flexibility (Hilderbrand, 2007). The sites online nature, in addition to its freedom of use without any sign-up, made YouTube an extremely popular form of entertainment throughout the world. In the instantaneous entertainment industry of today, users want immediate, on-demand availability of music, video, television and information. YouTube provides exactly that, a factor which has made the site the “revolutionary, viral phenomenon” (Hilderbrand, 2007) it is today. By providing online video streaming of all variants of media content, YouTube has become the “go-to website for finding topical and obscure streaming video clips” (Hilderbrand, 2007). This freedom of access has transformed the music industry both negatively, as discussed before and positively. In terms of profits, YouTube music videos often include a link to the song in the 'iTunes store' where consumers may buy individual songs, using YouTube as an advertising strategy. In addition to user-friendly access, YouTube allows the user to create an account for free and post videos of their own, thus expanding the sites vast collection. This feature allows amateur musicians to promote themselves, creating a global audience at no cost (Coats et al., 2000; Jenkins, 2006). Early exposure allows the musician to develop a fan base, which can exponentially increase with the more videos they post. Many artists have become ‘YouTube stars’ (Hilderbrand, 2007) in this way and by the time they are supported by the music industry, their fans are ready and willing to listen to or purchase their work.

Christina Grimmie is an example of a self-developed artist who went from low quality bedroom recordings to having over 1.5 million subscribers to her YouTube channel and near 717 million video views. ‘Team Grimmie’, her online fan base have given this artist the support and recognition she needed to become noticed within the wider music industry and she is now recording her own music and going on concert tours both as a supporting act and as her own artist.

-  2009, Christina records in a poor lit room with no audio editing or enhancement at zero cost

 -       2011, Christina performs her own written song in a high cost Music Video produced with actors, audio and visual editing, sound and video crews

Established artists also use online music video streaming to promote their work. Often, artists will use Music Video to enhance the overall story of their song through intricate production using acting, editing and visual performance. This elaborate approach conveys the huge impact that music video has had on the simple audio recording of music. The online posting of such a music video allows fast dispersal of such works through ‘linking’ the videos URL to friends via social networking sites, email and online video sharing (Balaban, 2001). Lady Gaga offers many examples of elaborate movie-like music videos, creating extravagant spectacles to accompany her songs.

Thus, “online video produced by professionals and amateurs converge across a continuum of platforms” (Russo, 2009). YouTube sanctions this through the promotion of established artists as well as the self-exposure of new artists (Coats et al., 2000) who find themselves on the same side during the move towards convergent media (Russo, 2009).
With the ever-increasing development of technology, the media industry, like many others, is forced to adapt and change in order to keep up with its audience’s preferences. The need of todays nomadic society to have access to media platforms on the go is complemented by the introduction of multi-media devices such as smart phones, mp3 players, portable radios and the list goes on. Across such a vast array of technology, convergence of media forms has occurred. The convergence of television, music, mobile phones and Internet is one combination of such a merge. Mobile TV or Internet access on phone phones complies with the nomadic nature of media consumers by giving users “private and personal viewing” (Orgad, 2009). This notion of mobile TV or media access allows the user to view content wherever and whenever is most convenient for them (Orgad, 2009). The user can view any source of media from their pocket at any given moment, highlighting the relevance of Internet use in our everyday lives.

Convergence within the music industry is a means of necessary change with online music video shaping music production and distribution throughout the world. The introduction of the Internet caused a metamorphosis in the way consumers access, share and create music media, handing control over to the audience. This element of freedom and opportunity allow amateur artists to become known in the global sphere, expanding the once exclusive industry to a broad spectrum of musical talent. Furthermore, music video has enhanced the communication of musical intent through the addition of visual storytelling. Online music video streaming, accompanied by multi-media technology has allowed the enrichment of music as well as its instantaneous, infinite supply to consumers anywhere, anytime.


Balaban, D. (2001). The Battle of the Music Industry: The Distribution of Audio and Video Works via the Internet, Music and more. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Law Journal, 12(1).
Coats, W. S., Freeman, V. L., Given, J. G., & Rafter, H. D. (2000). Streaming into the Furute: Music and Video Online. Loy. L.A. Ent. L. Rev. 285.
Dwyer, T. (2010). Media Convergence McGraw Hill, Berkshire.
Hilderbrand, L. (2007). Youtube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright Converge. Film Quarterly, 61.
Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. NY University Press.
Orgad, S. (2009). Mobile TV: Old and new in the construction of an emergent technology. Convergence, 15(2), 197-214.
Russo, J. L. (2009). User-Penetrated Content: Fan Video in the Age of Convergence. Cinema Journal, 48, 125-130. 

Online media content used

Christina Grimmie - 2009 "Me singing Dear Friend by Stacie Orrico"
Christina Grimmie - 2011 "Advice (Official Music Video)"
Lady Gaga- 2010 "Telephone ft. Beyonce"

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