Music videos, in particular, have undergone a huge transformation with the onset of their convergence with digital means of distribution. This transferral to digital realms has been so forceful that it has cut the golden days of MTV short before their time, and left their programming utterly aimless and somewhat drivel-heavy. YouTube, in contrast, has been key in prolonging the longevity of the video star, through its user-driven content and consistent rediscovery and redefinition. Users think of new ways to promote and distribute on YouTube all the time, and it can be argued that YouTube alone has greatly benefited the music video.
Jenkins contends that convergent culture is made up of three distinct and separate concepts. They are Media convergence, participatory culture and collective intelligence. YouTube wears the habits of its consumers proudly upon its bosom, in the sense that any media that is uploaded onto their network is given a view count, a like/rating bar and the ability to share this content across many other social networks. Any YouTube video is a perfect example of convergent culture in its three components – however in terms of addressing participatory culture, specifically, this video excels in doing so. While it is not uploaded to YouTube specifically, it perfectly encapsulates participatory culture, Media convergence and collective intelligence. (http://www.pozible.com/index.php/archive/widget_2011_1/7123/57722/626262)
This is an Australian band that took to social networking to fund the recording of their 2nd record. They issued a statement:
Gay Paris have done an awful lot for you since we crawled up out of the swamp... Never have we asked for a damn thing in return – sure, the hat has been passed around at shows and sometimes there is enough money in it to buy a drink. [but] Now we need your help. We need your money, bad – but we're too proud to beg. What we propose is an exchange of services. What do you want? What do you need? Got a troublesome school assignment? We'll do it. Need the global economic crisis explained? That's fine too... Check out what we're willing to do to get our hands on your money to make the best record ever a reality.
The participatory nature of Sydney’s music culture allows for such gestures to be made and successfully fulfilled. The band has offered to its supporters liner notes in artwork, early access to pre-production demos, t-shirts, signed records among other things. In this instance, participatory culture is as richly rewarding as ever. Between the collective intelligence of all those involved, there was something that the band could offer its entire and diverse network of fans. And, of course, the way in which they used digital media to promote the production of their endeavours on other formats, is a perfect example of media convergence.
The music video is also still incredibly useful in garnering attention to musicians and acts that may not have previously been well-established. YouTube again plays a significant role in musical perception – a lot of attention is paid to the amount of views a music video has, as well as other interactions like comments, likes and shares. This is a music video for a band that gained critical attention after touring with bigger names than themselves – and were also able to retain the attention of YouTube users with their memorable music videos.
This group of musicians have now gained an intense amount of attention through the convergent nature of their exposure in the live realm, as well as their memorable music videos. In the space of a tour that lasted just half of 2011, Red Fang experienced a monumental increase in likes on facebook, from 20,000 to exponentially higher, on the verge of 100,000+ likes. As one indicator of exposure/buzz online, it speaks volumes about the behaviour of the average fan today, and the way in which the behaviour of the fan has succumbed to the converging technologies available to them. Above all, one of the most important tools at the disposal of the average musician/music video subject is all and any social network. In addition to this, Dwyer observes that: "The application for digital technologies in personal communication devices, such as mobile/cellular phones, MP3/MP4 players and PDA/Smart phones, has provided the impetus for change in the traditional media industries and revitalised the confidence of Internet industries damaged by the Nasdaq tech crash of 2000." (Dwyer, 8)
This means that in addition to social networks, a musician is able to gain exposure through iPhones with 3G capabilities and a YouTube App, or, in earlier years, a phone with Bluetooth capabilities to send and distribute information completely free of charge. The Music Video is perfectly displayed on the screen of any pocket-sized apple product, and 3G accessibility allows for these music videos, archived on YouTube as far back as the very first official music video (Bohemian Rhapsody) The music video is ready and able to be accessed and enjoyed more so than ever before.
To sum up; the music video has completely transformed its role, its perception and purpose in its transition over to convergent and digital media formats. In saying that, it still has the appeal of adding visual to assumingly already rich aural landscape, even if, in some cases, the music video has next to nothing to do with the music. Combined with newfound accessibility, interactivity and authenticity of content developed by musicians on a small scale, modern music and audio culture has benefitted greatly from these new convergent approaches.
Dwyer, T, (2010) Media Convergence, McGraw Hill. Berkshre, pp.8
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture, New York University Press.
Red Fang (2011) “Wires”, Relapse Records < http://www.youtube.com/embed/WQPfQvLIseA?rel=>
Gay Paris (2012) “Help Gay Paris Release ‘The Last Good Party’”
Appelgren, Ester 2005, The influence of media convergence on strategies in newspaper production, KTH, Numerical Analysis and Computer Science