MTV was launched at 12:01 AM Eastern Time on August 1, 1981, and originally aired music videos as guided by television personalities known as VJs.
The first music video shown on MTV was The Buggles ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’.
In 1983 MTV took another big step when Michael Jackson debuted his iconic moonwalk during a performance on his hit number ‘Billie Jean’.
MTV began playing his music video in high rotation, and the legendary artist became a staple of MTV. Later in 1983, he revolutionized music videos with his $1.5 million video – ‘Thriller’.
MTV effectively diminished the power of radio – that had a direct implication on the bands would use to find success.
In fact, it made TV to be the dominant source of searching and seeing new music, therefore reducing reliance on the radio.
At first, MTV’s main target was young adults, but today it is primarily teenagers, high school and college students.
Since its inception, MTV has toned down its music video programming significantly, and now consists mainly of original reality, comedy and drama programming and some off-network programs and films, with limited music video programming.
The creation of MTV allowed the record industry to change the packaging of bands and music artists, and to do this in a larger extent compared to previous years – made them more accessible, but came with other effects such as increasing drug abuse and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
That also led to the creation of the current phenomenon that is girl bands and boy bands, all packaged to appeal to teenage audiences and younger people. In fact, the rise of these groups is a direct effect of the cable network.
Record companies found alternative methods to market their artists as well, through the use of music videos. They were also able to do this without the reliance of live performances, which was an important skill for past artists to have.
From the mid-2000s going forward. MTV was however, at the forefront of the game, and they started reality TV long before the rest of the World caught up with them.
In fact, they started a series in 1992, through a documentary-soap opera hybrid known as The Real World and Laguna Beach.
In addition, a side effect of that reality TV was promoting ideals such as LGBT rights, since these shows began to feature LGBT cast members in prominent roles on the show.
Today, MTV may no longer play music videos, but it remains a game-changing network.
It is now a billion-dollar worldwide enterprise located in 164 countries, to more than 400 million people, and through 50 music and entertainment channels broadcasting in 23 languages, plus 38 websites.
We can not deny the impact MTV has had on music videos and their evolution, but we also can not deny that it came with unwarranted side effects that still stick around to this day, and have affected the consumption of music.