Youth and YouTube: The Evolution of User-Generated Music Videos

Date of Award

December 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Media Studies


Dennis Kinsey



Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study seeks a greater understanding of youth-created music videos on YouTube by studying the trends that have emerged through the evolution of this genre. Visual trends involving aspects of technology, production values, and process and presentation are examined, as well as trends in gender representation. Although music videos have become a popular form of user-generated content, very little literature exists which discusses this genre, particularly as it relates to creative youth communities of YouTube. The diffusion of innovations theory and the concept of barriers to entry inform the evolutionary aspect of this study, while concepts of youth cultures, identity, and music video inform aspects of youth-created content. This study utilizes a longitudinal trend study methodology, in which a quantitative content analysis is conducted on a sample of 100 videos from the years 2007 and 2013. Results show significant differences in many visual trends, as well as trends in gender representation. 2013 videos feature a significantly higher number of edits per minute, effects, and individual performers compared to the 2007 sample. The 2013 sample features a significantly higher percentage of younger performers, female actors, and female video creators compared to the 2007 sample. A discussion of these and further results allows for a deeper understanding of this genre and its evolution.


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