I’m sure if I asked you all who remembered the glory days of MTV, I’d get a response along the line of “coming home after school (or work) to check out the artists that are currently popular, or if my favorites released any new music videos.” If you would not give me an answer like that, then, well, points to you for using your time more wisely or using it to watch Dragon Ball Z instead. If I asked anyone today under the age of 16 of what they’ll remember of their youth regarding MTV, their answer would be drastically different. MTV has slowly taken its shift away from promoting artists and showcasing the artists’ lifestyles to subjectively odd reality television. The smoking gun has been a missing item to the uninformed for years now.
To put this into perspective, lets backtrack a bit to an artist that didn’t quite follow the standards of “radio friendly,” in that they wouldn’t pass for listenable content in today’s mainstream audience: we’ll use rock artist Marilyn Manson, an artist known for his controversial and grotesque theatrics, as an easy example.
When Manson first started making music, he released three music videos from his debut album. When he had his mainstream breakthrough in Antichrist Superstar, his second album, he released a total of seven music videos off that album. If you thought that was a large number, his second album, Mechanical Animals had six music videos off of it. It stretches further, as his Holy Wood album would release the same number of music videos, and his greatest hits album would spawn two more despite featuring older songs. Each of these videos would hit MTV, garner an insane amount of views, and create amazing record sales for a controversial artist who had trouble playing live shows or getting airplay in certain areas. Since then, however, he’s only released two to three videos per album, with one of each being a live concert music video.
The same goes for artists like Eminem, Slipknot, Linkin Park, Bullet for My Valentine, and even pop acts like Britney Spears. If you go on a by-year analysis, current pop artists such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga don’t even release music videos as fast as these artists did in their golden days, and most of these don’t even garner the majority of their views off of MTV. It doesn’t have as much to do with the artist going out of style as you’d think. So what was the cause of this, you ask? The irate angsty young teenager would go “It’s all MTV’s fault. If they still played music videos nowadays, there’d still be a reason to make music videos reach out to a bigger audience!”
Well, I’d say that’s a bit of a harsh response. The truth of the matter is that everything in business can be changed by a single catalyst. ONE shift can alter nearly every industry and the media, because everything in pop culture and its businesses feeds and buys off each other to survive. I was going to explain it to you, but a terrific and hilarious video came out less than a week ago that I believe can explain it better than me.
The video will show you what has truly affected the business of showing music videos on television.
Yep, you heard it. The combination of piracy and the rise of the internet has virtually destroyed any necessity in premiering music videos on MTV. Sure, they still show them, but only in their dead hours between say, 12AM and 7AM when they don’t need to offer anything to a viewing audience.
A great point is raised though; why would you sit in front of your TV and wait for your music video to come on when you could just get the instant gratification by going on the internet and seeing it for yourself? A decade ago, you had to subscribe to magazines, scour news articles, and listen to the radio to find out information on your favorite artists. Now, if you so much as enter “One Direction” into your search bar, you’re peppered with hundreds of google pages, from Tumblrs to Twitters to Youtube videos to Facebook pages to iTunes to Spotify: the amount of things you can find out about a band at the click of a button is absolutely mind blowing. Why would you sit in front of a TV when Youtube exists?
Illegal downloads have not only backed MTV into resorting to playing IQ dropping shows like Jersey Shore to recoup money, but they’ve also shattered the possibilites of making a good music video anymore. Eminem’s videos were always a treat to see, or watching Ozzy Osbourne and his crazy antics composed into a music video were always creatively presented. The budgets are too low to make anything as mindblowing as it once was before: something that is a shame as we now have the tech to make something really amazing.
I don’t think we’re getting old by seeing stuff like this, it’s just a matter of making room for the next era. The “age of the internet” has caused many changes that we have to soon get very used to, or else we won’t be able to keep up in the business. MTV is simply adapting by letting its “M” die out. Would I want the old MTV back? Of course. Is it practical? The answer today is “absolutely not. RIP.” Sorry folks.