MTV was born 30 years ago this month, in 1981, a year that wasn’t a significant one in music history – unless you count Britain winning the Eurovision Song Contest with “Making Your Mind Up” from Bucks Fizz.
The idea behind MTV was to simply play music videos all day, every day. Music artists and record companies soon saw the marketing benefit and the evolution of the music video began. In 1984 MTV presented the first “MTV Video Music Awards” or VMAs from Radio City Music Hall in New York City with a notable performance from Madonna in a wedding gown singing “Like a Virgin.”
In 1992 MTV began to list the names of the directors at the bottom of the credits, bringing the likes of Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and David Fincher to wider attention. Without MTV new music video directors, such as Emil Nava, creator of all of Jesse J’s music videos, wouldn’t play such a key role in the launch of a new track.
As the internet began to grow through the 1990s, music videos became more available online, leading to MTV diversifying into reality TV. Shows such as Jackass(2000), The Osbournes(2002) and Pimp My Ride(2004) soon became big hits for the channel. The music emphasis remained, with the launch of more specialist strands such as MTV Unplugged and the channel continues to champion new artists. The MTV brand continued to develop globally and there are now numerous native-language MTV-branded music channels around the world, including several spin-off channels under the UK’s MTV Music brand.
So, we thank MTV for its support for new music over the past 30 years and look forward to checking out this year’s Video Music Awards on 28 August live from Los Angeles.