MTV’s 40th Anniversary
Musings by Purple
A significant date has recently passed for all lovers of 80’s music. The launch of MTV on August 1, 1981. It’s so hard to believe that 40 years have passed. It seems like it was just yesterday!
I was fortunate enough to witness the launch of MTV. I remember being glued to the edge of my seat, fixated on the countdown on the screen. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited.
After the countdown, a rocket launch flashed upon the screen followed by a voice saying, “ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll”. I knew right then and there that this was going to be something special.
I became immediately hooked and MTV became a big part of my life. I would put MTV on as soon as I came home from school and it would be on most nights until bedtime. Weekends it was on around the clock. I always had a passion for music growing up, and MTV just seemed to fuel that passion. It brought a sense of newness and excitement to the music scene that was sorely lacking at the time. Record companies and radio stations seemed to be unsure of their direction in the early 80’s. Disco had been dying since the end of the 70’s and 70’s ”arena rock”was waning in popularity.
Then along came MTV.
Established acts were reluctant to make videos since they still were unsure of the popularity of music videos and doubted the impact they would make on their careers. Record companies were for the most part, were unwilling to provide free videos to a network they expected to be a failure. So during the early days of MTV they relied heavily on UK acts. The network then became a showcase for many of the early new wave and metal bands. This allowed me to become introduced to so many amazing 80’s artists I would have not heard otherwise due to lack of radio airplay.
The power of MTV grew and bands were obliged to make music videos in order to sell records and remain relevant in the current music scene. As the network continued to expand its global reach, we then began to see videos being made by artists with limited talent who were more packaged with a sleek video promoting their “look””. It started to become less about the music and more about selling an image. By the time the 90’s rolled in, MTV started dabbling with reality TV with the launch of the show “The Real World”” This was the beginning of the end, as the network then slowly began to abandon most of their music programming in favour of reality television.
It’s sad to see such a powerful force in the music industry.become a shadow of its former self. If it weren’t for MTV, I don’t think the 80’s would have had such a big impact on the music scene because so many great bands would have been overlooked and remained undiscovered on a wider scale. I’m grateful to have been around for MTV’s heyday and hope one day it can return to its former glory. But it will never again reach the heights it did when it played all that amazing 80’s music.
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