Media convergence has seen existing media platforms revolutionise into new fields, where new technologies change the way society interact and access various media content. Dwyer (2010: 2) describes an understanding of media convergence as being a “process whereby new technologies are accommodated by existing media and communication industries and cultures. ” This concept of existing media transforming into new technological formation is shown through the shift of music videos to an online arena. With this shift, brings a change in the way such music videos are produced and accessed, which is explored further in this essay.
With the increased expansion of the internet, a new form of media at the time, saw the accessibility grow with greater content, and became individually sort after. Baldwin, McVoy and Steinfield (1996: 176) noted this development of the World Wide Web, describing this media revolution would provoke both a user and also on an economic level. Websites born through the development of the web, for example YouTube, revolutionised how music videos were accessed that markedly broadened this new online audience.
The online media platform saw the convergence of music videos programs like MTV expand into new technological areas appealing to a changing audience. This change known as a “convergence culture, where old and new media collide” (Jenkins 2006: 2) has allowed greater access for the individual to interact and communicate to an extended audience. Online media creates the possibility to engage with the content by commenting and linking to others through this social media.
Barkat, Hart and Salazar (2009: 364) explain the possibilities that Web 2. 0 has enabled, that it is an “environment open to creative opportunities for the users and aligns them not only with other users, but with other producers of screen media”. The potential of reaching out to multiple other users is more possible than ever before, this being exemplified by music videos that have gone ‘viral’, by such means as networking online, whereby music videos are linked and shared to the likes of Facebook for example.
Free Hugs Campaign – Sick Puppies ‘All The Same’ Popularity gained through this viral video viewed by millions, saw the status to fame of not only Juan Mann, the person filmed in the video, but the band (Sick Puppies) performing the song, ‘All The Same’. With a change in the way people now access media, along with a change in audience, shifts how music video producers and bands release content.
Music videos released have taken a remarkable change within production, for example the band OK Go’s one take video of “Here It Goes Again”, was renowned through its creative and quirky moves on treadmills, it launched this little known band into the music spotlight, mainly due to the fascination it created online. Growing interest of those music videos created by OK Go has seen the fan base increase, and the subsequent use of similar concepts in more of their videos continued their appeal to an increasing online user network.
Previous beliefs of music entities needing to release expensive music videos in the aim to attract a greater audience has diminished. With online music videos demonstrated affordability, music companies must see the potential in creating a distinct video for a lower price and “if it’s done right you have the potential for a million more listeners, and viewers” (Barker 2010: 143) Embed Video – OK Go ‘Here It Goes Again’
This online music video not only went ‘viral’ but formed the concept of an evolutionary way of producing music videos, where it constructed a video that both intrigued and entertained the online audience’s mindset which in turn can potentially increase awareness of the band or producer. Music videos converging to digital media have lead to big music producers adopting a new direction to better market their music content. “Large media producers and rights holders such as the Warner and Universal Music Groups have signed revenue sharing deals with YouTube. (Burgess and Green 2009: 5)
Paying for music videos to be available online is viewed by such entities as a gateway to a larger audience, in the aim to establish attraction for individuals to purchase the groups CD or album. Alternatively other media “companies seem uncomfortable with their role as participants in a space where they don’t exercise complete control over the distribution and circulation of their cultural products. ” (Burgess and Green 2009: 5) Possibilities that arise from sharing music videos online could lead to negative publicity, with music videos disregarded by online viewers.
User interaction online has allowed music videos to be criticised, parodied and negatively portrayed; this highlights the notion of the audiences empowerment in this new convergent state (Mehra, Merkel and Bishop 2004: 785). Take Rebecca Blacks song ‘Friday’ for example, a music video sensation that has been heavily criticised and parodied by online users due to the composition of lyrical execution and construction of the music video. Rebecca Black ‘Friday’ Recognizing the network of an expansive audience online has lead to the creation of further music video platforms for the viewer to access.
Large media producers like the Universal Music Group have gone to the level of constructing a music video platform online called Vevo, where artist’s music videos collaborated with that label, are uploaded in a higher quality for online viewers. High-end advertisers attracted to the potential viewers they could publicise to, sees the media producers associated with Vevo, as a new revenue stream. This is another example of how the direction of digital convergence is expanding within music videos. Convergence has seen new patterns in the way media content is both accessed and produced.
Producing music videos for online has seen unlikely groups obtain positive and negative popularity through their construction of their video. The production of music videos online has enabled the possibility of ‘viral’ music videos, a construct of media platforms where a music video can be shared and viewed by millions. Convergence of music videos to an online state has also seen the modifications of large media companies, a direction that supplies viewers with music videos on sites that evidently creates revenue through advertising because of its popularity associated with such sites.
Jenkins (2003: 308) views convergence of music videos to the online format, as “offering experimental artists access to a broader public that can be attracted to screenings of their work. ” This statement ultimately coincides with the commercial benefits of convergence, that it is “attractive to media producers and industries because it opens multiple entry points into the consumption process” (Jenkins 2003: 284), in short, accessibility of online music videos can lead to an extensive audience, a product valued by both producers and industries.