The History of Music Videos
In the early 60’s music was very popular in worldwide societies. Many artists such as the Beatles and Elvis were extremely famous internationally. This was both an advantage but also a disadvantage. Artists, particularly the Beatles, had to stop touring as they were so famous and popular that the stadiums could not hold the vast amount of people who wanted to see them play. Extreme popularity also meant that the Beatles would be touring around the world constantly and would have very little time to write new songs.
Therefore, as a result of this, the Beatles decided to film documentary style feature films in which the Beatles played themselves as characters. In 1964, they produced a film called ‘Hard day’s night’ http://youtu.be/cD4TAgdS_Xw. Throughout the film the Beatles would play their own songs and often performed as they would live but on screen and are set aside to the narrative of the film. This gave the audience the opportunity to see the artist as the main purpose of these videos was to promote the artist.
In January 1964, Top of the Pops was produced. A weekly BBC television programme which allowed viewers to watch the artists play songs live through TV. This also promoted the artist, but additionally the programme showed viewers which music was popular. In the early days of music videos, this was one of the only ways to promote artists. A good video would increase a song’s sales as viewers hoped to see it again in the next episode of Top of the Pops.
Feature films which music artists starred in were often shown on television. This promoted the artist among a wider audience as people who did not own the film would watch it.
In 1981, the USA launched a music video channel called MTV, first airing ‘Video killed the radio star’ http://youtu.be/W8r-tXRLazs, which signified the beginning of a 24-hour-a-day music on television era. The channel was originally produced to promote rock music but later MTV began to produce other music video channels to promote other genres. By mid 1980s, music videos were set to play a central role in popular music marketing. At this point it was thought that the better the artists music videos were, the more successful the track would be. The key innovations of the production of music videos were the development of relatively inexpensive, easy to use video and editing equipment, conjoined with the development of ideas for visual effects. Artists then began to include a storyline or plot to their video (fiction or non-fiction), with some having direct relevance to the lyrics or the artist. This is very often seen in most music videos of the present time. At the time, these developing ideas were seen as a modern genre of video.
In 1983, the most successful and influential video of the music video era was released. This was Michael Jackson’s video for his single ‘thriller’ which was nearly 14 minutes long and included special effects and an original narrative, this set new standards for video production but also conjured up more controversial matters with regards to what was aired on MTV. http://youtu.be/N1tTN-b5KHg. This particular video used many of the codes and conventions of a typical horror genre as it was filmed in a graveyard and featured old abandoned houses and a dark setting with connotations of fear. The video also started a dance craze; many people who had seen the music video were instantly willing to learn the dance routine, one that, at present, is a very iconic and famous routine. This increased the amount of publicity for Michael Jackson among a range of audience. After the success of many of Michael Jackson’s videos, it was noticed that it was the first time African-American artists had been regularly promoted on the channel. In 1984, MTV launched the MTV Music Awards which was later to become one of the world’s most famous awards events. It also signified MTV’s importance within the music industry.
In 1985, animation was starting to become mainstream in the production of music videos. The first artist to use animation was Dire Straits in their song ‘money for nothing’ which helped the song become an international hit. A year later Peter Gabriel released a music video for his song ‘Sledgehammer’ which used many icon and surreal special effects and animation. The video won nine MTV Music Video Awards http://youtu.be/N1tTN-b5KHg.
From around 2005 to the present day, streaming music videos on the internet became very popular. This was because it was easier and often cheaper to view an artist’s music video on a website rather than buying a physical copy on video tape. In 2005, YouTube was launched; this made viewing music videos faster and easier. It also meant that the public could comment on the video, and post their own video. Many artists that are famous now, rose to fame through posting videos of them performing on YouTube for record labels to see them. Another advantage of YouTube was that the audience could watch the artist perform without needing to see them in concert. Many people who had been to their concerts (though of bad quality) posted videos of the performance on YouTube for others who had not been to see and experience. With the development of music in a digitalised form, MP3 players and IPods were now starting to develop and improve. Music videos became more accessible and portable, as consumers were able to upload music videos onto their mobile phone, IPod or MP4 player device. Another recent development is the 3DS which consumers can use to stream music videos using Wi-Fi connection; this means that music videos are now available to view in 3D. An example of this is a band called OK Go, who regularly provide videos available to stream every so often and are famous for their famous video of the band performing using treadmills. One of the first videos to be streamed on 3DS was ‘White Knuckles’ http://youtu.be/nHlJODYBLKs.
Many music videos in present day use codes and conventions of other music videos and also films. Many artists take ideas from other media texts and interpret and combine them in a unique way. An example of this is Blink 182 in their video for ‘all the small things’, in this video they are mimicking other music videos made by other artists http://youtu.be/9Ht5RZpzPqw .
To conclude, the form and style of music video has changed over time, mainly due to technological advances but also popular demand from the audience and level of competition from other artists. However, the main purpose of a music video, which is to promote the artist, has stayed the same.