Convergence is the notion of change in technology that is a merge of many different mediums coming together allowing new forms of production and distributing. The change in convergence also has great affect on the relationship between technologies and audiences. Marshall McLuhan’s statement “The Medium is the Message” is at the forefront of this change of convergence, as new mediums are introduced they become the message. A great example of this can be seen in live stream, a riveting medium that is now used to watch the latest episodes of TV, interact with celebrities online or to watch music concerts all done from the comfort of our own homes. Since it’s creation in 2007, they have created a new medium, successfully removing the barriers that exist from other platforms (Marketing Weekly News, 2009). The future of convergent media in the notion of live stream desperately depends on how these new platforms interact and participate with each other, because in today’s society audience participation is key in making a successful platform. There are many risks and failures that can affect the relationship between Live Stream and its audiences. Live Stream is mainly dominated by a user empowered base allowing constant and free streaming. With such easily accessible content production there comes issue of Copyright and Control, this can have a major impact on the ideologies of content creation and can often be potentially harmful to legacy media platforms. This further shows the effect that new converging platforms has on a range of mediums creating a strong need for change in dying business models.
Convergence between Live Stream and its audiences has had a strong and controversial effect on the issue of copyright and control. Copyright was introduced for the protection however it is an industry dynamic (Mitew, 2015) that is a controlling force over the ideology of a user empowered platform. Live streaming has become an easy and affordable medium to showcase productions such as TV shows, movies, award ceremonies and sporting games on a global scale. While this is legally used by business companies, broadcasting stations and media moguls there is also opportunity for the audience to regenerate content themselves. It is at this point of user creation that issues of copyright and control come into play. The Digital Millennial Copyright Act, established in 1998 by President Clinton, was created to ensure there was still fair use of copyrighted works (USCO, 1998) while also ensuring that credibility was given to those who were original content creators. In most recent years live stream has been on the rise with the introduction of brand new platforms such as Meerkat, Periscope and Twitch, a live stream platform dedicated solely to gaming. There has yet to be any major legal cases in regards to content production with these technologies (Miners, 2015). There are strict Terms of Service when signing up for the broadcasters in order to prevent users from uploading illegal content. These apps though are aiming to prevent copyright infringement only deliver content with the space of 24 hours (Peoples, 2015). This gives companies very little time for takedown requests, which could cause market harm to production companies. In March 2010, Live Stream delivered a online letter to content and event owners stating their zero tolerance on piracy (Hoat, 2010). The letter directed at content creators warned about the unlawful practices and how damaging infringement can be to creative industries. Hoat went into detail about how the company were not interested in artificial growth gained from illegal content. In 2008 Live Stream pioneered the automated take down tool allowing any infringements of the DMCA from rights holders such as Disney, NBA, International Olympic Committee, WWE and Warner Bros. This was a great lead from Live Stream and caused many other competitors to follow in suit. This since has allowed audiences to deliver free content that is rightfully theirs as well as protect the rights of artists from their content being stolen. This has now given audiences so much power and effect on the notion of technological convergence.
People formerly known as the audience (Rossen, 2006) are at the forefront of convergence. With today’s audience creating content and regenerating content at great speeds why would you need to pay for anything when there is a place that you can get it for free (Mitew, 2015). In todays mediated sphere we are in the medium, you can be anywhere with the Internet imposing no barriers to entry, there is no economy of scale and no limit of supply (Shirky, 2011). This allows users to create content at the level of big media producers with little to need for high tech gadgets (Technology & Business Journal, 2011). Content creation can occur on Live Stream and other platforms as it happens and of any specific focus. Live Stream gives users the opportunities to become citizen journalists, something that has been increasing in today’s social media age. Live Stream has especially launched off this year, as Periscope and Meerkat were released, allowing there to be a greater allure to be able to share content instantly (Metz, 2015). Thus making it addictive in todays mediated sphere. Today’s smartphones offer easy accessibility (Miners, 2015) no matter where you are. Some of this generation’s most generated content includes that of music festivals and concerts. Coachella, one of the greatest American desert music festivals, has streamed some performances across the globe for the last 5 years (Spangler, 2015) allowing access for people who can not necessarily make it to the opposite side of the globe to see some of the greatest artists in the world perform. Streaming has rapidly become a dominant form of music consumption (Resnikoff, 2014) and has caused current business models into question. At many music concerts and festivals people can easily stream good music delivering it to people at home. It allows people to generate content to an audience that is in demand. Not everybody can afford to attend music festivals or go to all of their favourite artists gigs but with the introduction of live stream there has been a complete shift in who does what. Imagine you are at a music festival, you are initially the audience watching a band play. However you soon become a content producer delivering a service to an audience with a new technology. This is exactly how convergence has affected today’s audience. The new technologies have changed who the audience is. It has given them the power to take control in new situations that reproduce content to everybody regardless of their status making a powerful force that has pushed against that of the industries. While the industries attempt to fight back, their business models are dying making it harder for all parties to work together and provide powerful platforms for the benefit of all.
Convergence has caused an overturn of many mainstream media platforms and live stream has definitely made a contribution to this. From journalism, TV, movies and music, many legacy media forms are starting to lose their touch. Over recent years the music industry has been damaged by the streaming both via live video and online streaming sites such as Spotify and Pandora (Luckerson, 2014). And with the availability of such platforms on mobile phones, “the mobile supersedes the legacy infrastructure” (Mitew, 2015). Live stream has become a market leader in this movement of real time event coverage (Technology & Business Journal, 2011). This has changed the message of content creation, instead of reporting on events after they happen live stream, as in name suggests, is the message of broadcasting in the now. Live stream has successfully worked in the past for the band Kings of Leon who, in collaboration with YouTube, offered viewers a 360 view of their concert (Sorokanich, 2013). Though this comes at a price to the event holders it does offer more of a connection between the technologies and the audience. Allowing viewers to control the content, when it comes from a regulated source, has changed a normal business model for the better. However many other apps that allow users to generate their own content do not often fit the specific needs of the industries. Meerkat and Periscope both stream live as it happens and store content for 24 hours before it is removed from the site (Peoples, 2015). This gives companies very little time for takedown requests something that can cause market harm to production companies. Though in the big picture of things this is out of legacy media control. The idea of convergence is the fact that the audience now plays one of, if not the, biggest role in todays mediated sphere. Without the continuous remixes, regenerative and recreated content the medium would be very boring.
Convergence has definitely influenced and affected the way that audiences interact and participate in today’s convergent society. It has offered a great change from legacy media and allowed the audience to take control of content into their own hands. Though there are many rules and regulations in regards to copyright and control, the audience has been given the opportunity to create content that has provided a social utility to many other people. Whether they are streaming cats, sports games, protests or concerts Live Stream has opened up a world of ready-made content at the touch of a hand. Such platforms like Meerkat and Periscope take it a step further and place the readily available technology in the palm of a hand through smart phone devices. Marshall McLuhan’s original statement “The Medium is the Message” has followed through into this convergent age. As live stream continues to become a growing medium, its message of producing content as it happens has affected the audience and delivered so much potential.
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