In October 2012, I travelled all across the world with my dance crew ‘Infinite Dance Crew’ to compete in the Hip Hop Unite World Championships, held in the Netherlands. When our first international flight got cancelled, we needed to do something to fill our time between flights and to cure our boredom. We decided to film us –a group of dancers- doing the Gangnam Style dance everywhere we went with the aim of uploading it to YouTube and on social media to show friends and families what we got up to whilst overseas. Our video is called Infinite Style
I filmed the video on my digital camera and iPhone. We never planned when or where we would film us doing the dance so it was very handy to be able to pull out my iPhone and film. I wasn’t worried about differing resolution between camera and phone or shakey camera movement from being handheld as this was a spontaneous action video. I achieved the spontaneity of mobile film making through the instant access to my cellphone, but I tried to stay away from the particular DIY aesthetic that comes with low quality mobile phone cameras, eg; shakey camera, pixelated etc.
Unfortunately I did not get round to editing and uploading this video until early this year. Although this meant everyone had to wait a long time to see it, I am now able to use the video for two of my practical workshop exercises, Upload a short film/video to a digital distribution site and Publicize a short film/video via social networks. I will be looking at uploading the video to YouTube and publicizing it via Facebook.
Workshop Project 1: Upload a short film/video to a digital distribution site.
The Process of the Upload:
The first part of my process was to upload the video to the internet. I knew this video might be hard to upload because it uses the song Gangnam Style by PSY and this may cause issues with copyright law. The Korean pop song came out in July 2012 and took over the world. It has been viewed well over a billion times on YouTube and is the sites most watched video.
Once the video had finished loading onto YouTube I was notified that it contained music that was owned by a third party. I was asked to acknowledge the third party content or dispute this claim.
I was sent this email,
My video was now accessible to everyone on YouTube but it was blocked in Germany. Why Germany? The GEMA (Society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights) believes YouTube can be held accountable and owes them money for breaches of copyright and damages caused by these breaches. They require a large amount of content that involves copyrighted music and even original music to be blocked on YouTube in Germany, including the Gangnam Style by PSY. This video gives a two-minute description on the situation.
A condition of my video being online is that it couldn’t be viewed on mobile devices. These days I watch most YouTube videos on my iPhone because most videos I watch reach me on Facebook and Twitter. This video, and many other videos on YouTube would probably have many more views if they were available on mobile devices.
I thought the advertisements that appeared on my video would be relative to my video, yet after seeing a few of them pop up I quickly realised the ads had nothing to do with it whatsoever.
It seemed bizarre that ads about ‘Why Men Pull Away?” and “Tummy friendly milk” should be sitting on top of my video. This video that I created now has an unrelated ad attached to it that I can’t remove. For me, one of the original points behind YouTube and vlogging is that it was an expression of individual creativity. Now, our individual creativity is clouded with advertisements from companies that are making money by hosting their ads on our videos. In “The Entrepreneurial Vlogger: Participatory Culture Beyond the Professional-Amateur Divide”, Jean Burgess and Joshua Green state that “the entry of commercial media players into YouTube… [was a] corporate takeover of what had been a “grassroots” media platform” (90). Now that advertisements have flooded in to every aspect of YouTube, there is less of a feeling of it being a place for creativity and expression and more it being an annoying platform for companies such as McDonalds make you watch their video before you can watch your own.
Though the advertisements that appeared on my video are seemingly random, the videos chosen to sit in the sidebar next it seem to have had some relation to my video title and description.
The top one featured is actually the show-reel for Kirsten who is in Infinite and in our video. This was very weirdly coincidental at first and then I realised that one of the comments below my video is made by one of Kirsten’s relatives.
YouTube picked up on this, ran the words in the comments, title and description of my video into a computer algorithm to find alike content. This type of word scanning to find related videos or advertisements makes the process of viewing content online more personal, as it feels like the website knows exactly what you are interested in.
The above and below picture is a screenshot of traffic sources for my video. The main traffic source is “Embedded Player (unknown source)”. I have no doubt in my mind that this embedded player is Facebook. Once I uploaded the video, I shared it on Facebook, then the rest of the girls in Infinite shared my link on their own pages and it was everyone’s status. It would have reached well over 3000 people throughout all our networks within the first 24 hours.
Copyright, PSY and Dance Imitation:
Thousands of videos seen on YouTube include statements describing how the use of music in the video is being used under the Fair Use Law. In regards to copyright laws ruling YouTube, “[YouTube] argue that since one of the goals of copyright is to provide financial incentive to produce and distribute content, [because] distribution over the internet is often at low or no cost, there is no need to provide financial incentive” (Pike, George. Dancing babies and the future of digital copyright). Copyright laws on YouTube music videos and songs are necessary so that financial gain can be made by the original artist yet there are perhaps even more benefits when the copyright on a song is a little more relaxed. Gangnam Style is a prime example of a song/video that has had relatively lenient rules in regards to copyright infringements and has benefitted from them.
There is a big difference when uploading a video with the Gangnam Style music track compared to other music tracks from other production companies. Apparently PSY and YG entertainment have had a “relaxed attitude to people infringing on his copyright … [helping] turn Gangnam Style into one of the most successful cultural phenomena in recent years, and that includes becoming the most viewed video on YouTube ever” (Moody, Glyn. Tech Dirt). It is the ability for fans of PSY and Gangnam Style to be able to upload their own interpretation of the song and dance that leads to the huge popularity surrounding the song.
As the view count went up on my video, the advertisements started appearing. This is something I have no control over because it is a condition of using PSY’s music and probably any other copyrighted music. According to TubeMogul, a video ad buying platform, “PSY and his agent YG Entertainment have raked in about $870,000 as their share of the revenue from ads that appear with YouTube videos that involve his music (Youkyung, Lee, Cashing in on Gangnam Style’s YouTube Fame). PSY is not just making money off his own music video, he is making money off every amateur imitation video that involves his music. This shows that PSY an YG Entertainment have realised there is a new way of earning money through music, not only by sales of the song, merchandise and concerts, but also by advertisements on YouTube videos.
The dance style that PSY has created for Gangnam Style is a very popular well-known selection of moves that mimic the action of riding a horse. There is something interesting about how many people –including me and my dance crew- choose to upload videos of themselves imitating popular dance moves on to YouTube. Kirsten Pullen in “If Ya Liked It, Then You Shoulda Made a Video, Beyoncé Knowles, YouTube and the public sphere of images”, discusses how the dance moves in Beyonce’s Single Ladies video clip has sprouted a stream of imitations that both promote and mock the original performance. She talks about how the popularity of imitation videos depends on how badly or comically the dancers are dancing. The fan made single ladies videos that are the most popular are generally terrible imitations of the dance moves such as “Single Ladies Gone Wrong” and “Beyonce Single Ladies Dance”. Both these videos have between ten and twenty million views on YouTube and are so successful because of the performers inability to do the dance correctly. With regards to my video on YouTube, in most parts we are doing the dance correctly, we don’t mock PSY, nothing spontaneous like hitting our heads on a television happens and we aren’t dressed up in some ridiculous costume. My video never had the ability to become a viral video. This video was made for friends, family and supporters.
Next step, publicising my video on facebook…
Workshop Project 2: Publicize a short film/video via social networks.
As soon as my Infinite Style video was live on YouTube, before I knew whether or not it would get taken down because of copyright, I shared it on my dance crews private Facebook group. This meant that they all got the first view and could give me the seal of approval. After nearly everyone in my crew (12 people) had seen the video -which was within 20 minutes of me posting to the page- I shared the video in my Facebook status as an embedded video. Rather then having a link, which would take you to a new tab and onto YouTube, having an embedded video meant that people did not have to leave Facebook to view the video. People could watch the video instantly on their Facebook news feed.
From here, it started to get shared around. According to Meagan Palatino in “Social Sharing – Publish your videos to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube”, we live in a society where sharing content is second nature. We see something that interests us then forward it on to friends and groups because we think it will interest them also. The benefit of this video involving my entire dance crew is that we all wanted our own individual groups to see it, therefore it was shared on each of our pages within an hour of it being online. By everyone sharing it on their personal profiles, this meant the video reached an extremely wide audience.
We were able to post the video on the public pages for Infinite and for the dance studio we train at Pump Dance this, once again, extended the audience. By using each of these networks it may have seemed that we were limiting the video to people within the dancing community. However because of the subject matter of this video, being a sort of documentary of our trip overseas, anyone who was at all interested in following our journey would have been able to see it with this video.
Because of the way Facebook puts notices on our news feeds when we comment on something or ‘like’ something, this means that “Almost every action someone makes with social media shows up in some way, and those connected to that person will see it” (Atkinson, REELSEO). People who aren’t even connected to me may have ended up seeing something to do with my video. Like a chain link, the video continued to be passed on from person to person, profile to profile.
The ability to ‘tag’ someone in a comment on the video allows information and notifications about the video to be directly shown to someone in particular. You can effectively ‘make’ them come watch your video. You are hailing them to come and look at this video and with one click they can make their way to the embedded video. “This is the essence of viral video marketing – create good content, and it spreads by word of [virtual] mouth” (Palatino), by ‘tagging’ someone in a comment, you are, in some ways, yelling for them to notice something virtually. According to Laurel Papworth in “Four Types of Status Updates for Improving Social Engagement on Facebook and Twitter” you are creating a ripple that can jump from network to network and then also onto other social media sites such as Twitter or Instagram. Because I am in charge of the social media platforms in my dance crew, I was able to easily promote and publicize this video via multiple media sites.
When uploading content to social media there is a definite desire for things to be instant and ever changing. If you want a successful facebook status it has to be continuously liked and commented on for it to stay visible in news feeds. If no action takes place on it then it is likely that the status or shared video will simply disappear further down to the bottom of the status pile. To create something buzz-worthy and popular there must be constant action taking place to prolong its temporality.
As Facebook becomes more and more consumed by monetising platforms, you are now able to pay Facebook to promote your post for you, to get it seen by many more people directly in their news feed. This makes Facebook earn money from advertising your post, much like YouTube earns money from companies buying advertising space on videos. In a way, posting something on Facebook and then paying Facebook to promote it is exactly the same as being an advertising company paying to have their advertisements on YouTube, but on a much smaller and cheaper scale. I think that my video will easily reach in between 1000 and 10,000 people via Facebook without paying for a promotion, simply because of how many different friend communities we have within our dance crew, therefore, no need to pay money for Facebook to do something we can do ourselves.
When I next create a short video I will make it under three minutes in length. It would be interesting to see if a similar video of a shorter length could have better statistics of people watching the video right till the end. If it is a dance video/document of a trip I will aim to edit, upload and publicise the video within a few weeks of the event as the hype around the particular event will still be up and fresh in the social media network. This will result in a higher view count and as well as that, people will be drawn back, through my YouTube channel, to Infinite Style.
Burgess, Jean and Green, Joshua (2009) ‘The Entreprenurial Vlogger: Participatory Culture Beyond the Professional-Amateur Divide’ in Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau (eds) The Youtube Reader, pp. 89-107
Cubitt, Sean (2008) ‘Codecs and Capability’ in Video Vortex Reader: Responses to Youtube, Geert Lovink and Sabine Niederer (eds) Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, pp.45-52
Pike, George. “Dancing babies and the future of digital copyright.” Information Today. 30.1 (2013): 22. Print.
Online Journal Articles:
Courtois, Cédric, Peter Mechant, and Lieven De Marez. “Communicating Creativity On Youtube: What And For Whom?” Cyberpsychology, Behaviour & Social Networking. 15.3 (2012): 129-134. Web. 1/05/2013 <http://web.ebscohost.com.helicon.vuw.ac.nz/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=a6712099-e18c-4ad0-950b-a66cddcd50f7%40sessionmgr4&hid=19>
Pullen, Kirsten “If Ya Liked It, Then You Shoulda Made a Video Beyoncé Knowles, YouTube and the public sphere of images.” Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts. 16.2 (2011). Web. <http://www.tandfonline.com.helicon.vuw.ac.nz/doi/full/10.1080/13528165.2011.578846#.UYWZ2SuSASh>
“Copyright Implications of the Gangnam Style Phenomenon.” Governance Across Borders. 3rd December 2012. Web. 01/05/2013. <http://governancexborders.com/2012/12/03/copyright-implications-of-the-gangnam-style-phenomenon/>
Masnick, Mike. “Gangnam Style Shows What Can Happen When You Don’t Lean On Copyright.” Case Studies by Tech Dirt. 2nd October 2012. Web. 01/05/2013, <http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121002/11573120572/gangnam-style-shows-what-can-happen-when-you-dont-lean-copyright.shtml>
Moody, Glyn. “Psy Makes $8.1 Million By Ignoring Copyright Infringements Of Gangnam Style.” Case Studies by Tech Dirt. 10th December 2012. Web. 01/05/2013. <http://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/articles/20121209/07431921317/psy-makes-81-million-ignoring-copyright-infringements-gangnam-style.shtml
Williams, Kara. “Gangnam Style & Harlem Shake: The New Era of Music Copyright.” YouBlawg. 1St May 2013. Web. 01/05/2013. <http://www.youblawg.com/law/gangnam-style-harlem-shake-the-new-era-of-music-copyright>
Youkyung, Lee. “Cashing in on Gangnam Style’s YouTube Fame.” YMusic. 5th December 2012. Web. 01/05/2013. <http://music.yahoo.com/news/cashing-gangnam-styles-youtube-fame-103746853–finance.html>
Palatino, Meagan. “Social Sharing – Publish Your videos to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.” Longtail Community Blog. Sep 25th 2011. Web. 15/05/2013. <http://www.longtailvideo.com/blog/22445/social-sharing-publish-your-videos-to-facebook-twitter-youtube/>
Atkinson, Chris. “How to Increase Video Views and Maximise Distribution via Integrated Media Channel Promotion.” REELSEO. Web. August 2012. 15/05/2013. <http://www.reelseo.com/increase-video-views-integrated-cross-media-channel-promotion/>
Papworth, Laurel. “Four Types of Status Updates for Improving Social Engagement on Facebook and Twitter.” Laurel Papworth, The Business of Being Social. Web. April 17th 2013. 15/05/2013. http://laurelpapworth.com/four-types-of-status-updates-for-improving-social-media-engagement-on-facebook-and-twitter/
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