The Cycle: the Relationship Between Convergence and Fragmentation in Media.

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The relationship between fragmentation and convergence is now more interrelated than before. With technological advances all industries have to change their approach and business plans in order to stay competitive. The main result from these advances, are the change in consumer behavior and demands. These new players generate a fragmentation and convergence cycle. While the originator of this cycle may not be clear or vary from industry to industry, the presence of this cycle is imperative for all industries to understand.


Media fragmentation is defined as “a trend to increasing choice and consumption of a range of media in terms of different channels such as web and mobile and also within channels, for example more TV channels, radio stations, magazines, more websites. Media fragmentation implies increased difficulty in reaching target audiences” (Chaffey, 2007). This is clearly a way of further breaking up media industries to create more choices. According to the University of Syracuse Convergence Center website, media convergence can be defined as “the coming together, into a single application or service, of information content from sound broadcasting, telephony, television, motion pictures, photography, printed text, and money” (2009). This is clearly a consolidation of media industries in order to meet specific demands created by specific consumers. These are two different scenarios that share a unique relationship. One will eventually lead to the other. The presence of one is the direct result of the other. However, which one leads? This is the digital media/entertainment industry’s casual dilemma .Which comes first? The different digital media/entertainment industries have all shown these two conditions at some time in their existence: the never ending cycle. Media/entertainment industries are under constant change and constant pressure to keep up with both technological advances and shifts in consumer behaviors. In order to do so, both fragmentation and convergence have to be implemented in the digital media/entertainment industries. How these trends are implemented and to what extent they are utilized, varies with each industry.


Perhaps the digital industry that has the most history and has adapted to more market shifts and different consumer demands in its lifetime is the music industry. While being a well established, successful industry well before the digital age, the music industry had a very tumultuous experience with the digital change. Before the change, the music industry business approach was very much fragmented. It was a market of choices for consumers. It also supported format changes by redistributing content in a different format. When the digital revolution happened, the music industry was the first to feel the new demands and the first industry to try and catch up with the new technology. The introduction of the internet ushered in a new way for consumers to hear and more importantly for the industry, to share music. This is when the music industry started showing first signs of convergence. By definition, the new technological advancement (the internet) was now being implemented to deliver the content. Music can now be purchased the traditional way, a tangible format (CD) or non tangible (digital copy). However, the interesting reason why the music industry struggled with the digital change was not because it simultaneously displayed aspects of both fragmentation (choices) and convergence (the internet), but because key players, like artists and consumers also evolved. They became savvier and demanded more specific choices. Artists are now self-publishing (Radiohead) and consumers are now transforming before categorized “indie music” into mainstream genres (Brandle, 2007). The music industry is quickly redefining itself once again because new platforms and different distribution approaches are now being implemented to keep up with the changes in...
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