MTV aired on August 1st of 1981 during the midnight; this channel started its transmission and played a big role not only in the music industry but also in music history for two generations.
As a very fulminating statement, MTV’s first video was ‘Video killed the radio star’ by the Buggles, after a message that said “Ladies and gentlemen, rock’n’roll!” A new era in the music world was just starting, the battle between radio and the cable channel with the purpose of ruling over the diffusion of pop and rock music.
Many audiovisual artists found a new way to express themselves, and the music industry saw a new investment option for their artists and performers to make a greater impact than would be reflected in up growing sales.
MTV’s origins date from 1977, when Warner-Amex Cable started the two first forms of interactive television in Columbus, Ohio. This was a system that offered special channels. ‘Sight on Sound’ was a music channel where the viewers could vote for artists and songs. The program for this channel was created by music producer Bob Pittman, who would later become MTV Networks president and CEO.
By the time, the Grammys were the indisputable music awards of this industry. But once MTV was installed all over the USA, with rising popularity between teens and young adults that could see their idols on the small screen, the MTV music awards were created in 1984. Madonna was the first one who won the most important award of the gala and Nirvana made history in 1992 when they broke all of their instruments in the stage.
Michael Jackson had also an important role in MTV’s history; he was the first black man to be aired on the channel. In a channel where basically all videos were starred by white people Michael Jackson paved a road for black people and opened the door for R&B performers.
In 1989, MTV aired a series of concerts named ‘Unplugged’. With a live audience and little witnesses, this format searched for getting the crowd closer to the artist. One of the most famous and most memorable editions was Nirvana’s unplugged in November of 1993; this was also one of Nirvana’s last performances before Kurt Cobain’s death.
There is no question that MTV became an important part of culture, modernity, and globalization. Suddenly lots of teenagers and older people started to imitate the hairstyles and clothing of their idols, they sang and danced the songs that this channel popularized.
Names such as Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard owes a lot of their success and popularity to the network that hosted them.
MTV also pioneered in the reality tv business. Displaying real people on the television in everyday situations was the network’s whole idea, this helps them understand what products could be more likely to have bigger success in sales. The first reality show aired on MTV was ‘The real world’ in 1992.
Other iconic products that came from MTV were ‘The Osbournes’ which showcases the life of Ozzy Osbourne and his family. Later, some animation would also be aired on MTV like Daria, Beavis and Butthead and South Park.
“You’ll never see music the same way” was one of MTV’s main slogans, after a lot of changes in their programming MTV faced a decrease in its popularity; it also had strong competence from channels such as VH1. Nowadays, MTV faces a bigger menace with the spreading of internet and music streaming.
Platforms like YouTube have unseated a lot of music channels since people have immediate access to the videos they want to see from the artist they prefer to consume.
After their very criticized spin to less musical content the network has promised to go back to their basics and bring back the old programming, they’re bringing back the ‘unplugged’ concert series, besides they’re launching in the USA a new channel called MTV Classics, dedicated exclusively to the old bastions of the network, but not leaving behind the mixture between music and reality TV that made them so popular back then. MTV Channel on YouTube