(On the Significance of Music Videos)
In the Internet age, YouTube is perhaps the biggest source of music videos. Whenever a music fan wants to check out a new song by her favorite artists or a new band which got her curious, the automatic go-to site is YouTube. However, did you know the origin of music videos—at least the official one?
On August 1, 1981—36 years ago—MTV (Music Television) was launched. It is an American cable and satellite television channel that Viacom Media Networks owns; with its headquarter in New York City, United States. The first music video shown on MTV was The Buggles’ version of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” a song originally recorded and released in 1979 by Bruce Woolley & the Camera Club. The song was an expression of the sentiment that music videos would ultimately make the artists behind songs obsolete.
I never bought that suggestion. For me, it’s just another knee-jerk reaction of those who tend to feel aversion for anything that is new that they feel possesses better qualities than the things that they’ve grown accustomed with. It’s the same old story of the aging, jaded and tired ol’ hippie’s getting threatened by the emerging, young hipster who is full of life and energy.
In fact and in fairness, the advent of music videos has even extended the lifespan of music stars. MTV’s having taken their music, along with their faces via music videos, right there into the very bedrooms and living rooms of the homes of countless music lovers around the world enabled many of such artists to expand their horizons from the claustrophobic confines of the radio and record players and exhausting concert tours (which could only go so far, considering time and promotional budget).
In simple words, MTV teletransported so many artists and their music to the farthest reaches of the television network. So, instead of maligning the development of music-video technology, artists and fans should actually be thanking music videos for broadening the scope of music—no longer only auditory but has also become visual and as creative and imaginative as it could get—more influential and inspiring.
After all, at the end of the spin, music will never really die or fade away. It just keeps on growing and growing and diversifying in styles as newer and younger songwriters emerge—not to replace but really to join the league of the veterans as well as the departed yet musically immortalized ones. Like any other cultural elements, music just evolves and expands. As in books versus e-books—the art of reading remains whichever format the reader prefers. So with music—be it via the radio, vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, MP3s, YouTube, or live concerts—the underlying purpose beneath all these is the music appreciation.
For, whatever happens, music will always be constant. Only the formats change. Long live music!