Many musical artists made their careers a success by using music videos. As an important part of the music industry, music videos not only showcase an artist’s singing talent, but also how they perform. The history of music videos shows how the use of the videos transformed the music industry.
Premiering in 1974, the Australian TV show ‘Countdown’ played an important role in the development of the music video industry. Music video clips were used as a method of promoting acts that were to appear on the show. As the popularity of the video clips grew, the music industry began to realize the marketing potential of these music clips. One of the most notable video clips features was the AC/DC hit, “It’s A Long Way to the Top.” During the 1980s, ‘Countdown’ aired in 22 countries.
In 1980, the New Zealand group Split Enz became one of the first bands to create an entire set of music promo clips and market them on video cassette for each song on their album, ‘True Colors.’
Predating MTV by almost three years, ‘Video Concert Hall,’ was the first nationwide video music program on American television. Premiering in June 1981, one of the first US programs to play music videos was the USA Cable Network program ‘Night Flight.’ Night Flight predated MTV’s launch by just a few months.
In 1981, the U.S. video channel MTV was launched and it began the age of 24-hour music television. They launched the channel with the video, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Throughout the 1980s, MTV expanded to become an important tool used in music marketing. Singers like Madonna not only used music videos to promote their albums, but to create their images. In 1983, the almost 14-minute-long video for Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller,” was released. It became the world’s most successful and influential video in music video history.
In 1985, MTV launched the channel VH1 which featured softer music for an older audience than the typical young MTV audience. In 1987, MTV Europe was launched and in 1991, MTV Asia was introduced.
In 1988, the MTV show, Yo! MTV Raps was launched. The show helped to bring hip hop music to a nation wide audience. Two of the videos that are most famous for being two of the three most expensive music videos of all time are Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream,” which cost $7 million to produce, and Madonna’s “Bedtime Story,” which cost $5 million. “Scream” is still the most expensively video ever made.
During the 1990s, MTV launched channels around the world that included: MTV Latin America in 1993, MTV India in 1996, and MTV Mandarin in 1997. In 1996, MTV2, originally called “M2” was launched as an alternative and older music video channel.
By the mid-2000s, MTV and many of its other channels had stopped showing a large number of music videos and began showing reality television shows.
Music Videos have played an important role in the success of many artists and the music industry.