Video did not kill the radio star. The advent of MTV and music videos in the early 80’s actually fueled album sales and radio airplay. Radio was alive and well in the 80’s and 90’s and I think videos only added fuel to that fire. No, what killed radio was the Telecommunications Act of ’96 which allows one corporation to own all the major stations in any given market. In most major radio markets the top 10 stations are often owned by one of only 4 companies. It was the homogenization of terrestrial radio that killed it. Actually the beginning of the end started in the 70’s and was partially due to the consulting team of Burkhart/Abrams who were largely responsible for the advent of the Top 40 Format as a replacement for the FM album format. Before Burkhart/Abrams pushed for tight formats and top 40, most FM stations allowed their individual DJ’s to each have their own style and sound.
We know what killed the radio star, the bigger question is, what killed the video star? Like newspapers, magazines and radio, it would be easy to blame the decline on the internet. The problem with that is, MTV stopped playing music videos (at least to any degree of regularity) long before the internet took over our lives. The advent of more cable channels and satellite TV should have only fueled it. So what gives? I believe the number one culprit is MTV itself. Yes, the same cable TV channel that fueled the music video revolution helped bring it to an end by simply not playing videos. What would happen if tomorrow Amazon.com decided to stop selling things and switched to only talking about retail goods? For awhile at least, internet sales of consumer goods would drop drastically because Amazon is the number one online retailer…by a long shot. Of course sales at other sites like target.com and walmart.com would pick up, but overall internet sales would stay down for awhile. Now imagine that Amazon was the ONLY online retailer and they stopped selling things. It would grind to a halt instantly, and that’s what happened to music videos. We (here in the US anyway) only had one full-time music video outlet and that was MTV. Those lucky enough to have satellite eventually tuned into the Canadian channel Much Music where they got to see tons of cool videos for awhile, but even Much Music changed and was very hard to get.
For a moment it looked as though YouTube might bring music videos back, but the quality of posted videos is usually horrible, many of them have clipped intros or outros and you have to wade through a lot of other junk just to find them. I’m not a fan.
Fear not because there’s big news for music fans…Music videos are back! MTV took a giant step this week towards righting the wrongs they have committed by introducing MTvM (mtvmusic.com). MTvM is a music video site. It is simple to use and you can make your own video mash ups and embed music videos on your blogs or website. Check out the video I have embedded below. You can search for any video on MTvM and they have a great selection, including multiple videos from Sparks, Crowded House, They Might Be Giants, Split Enz, Fountains of Wayne, ELO, Yes, Jellyfish and much, much more. I did stump it though and if you get too obscure or out of print it probably won’t be there. Here’s hoping this takes off and that even more videos are added.