It was initially scoffed at when introduced, but MTV came on the scene in 1981. Nobody knew the massive impact it would have. The industry was given a powerful new advertising medium, the public got to see all those weirdos who make the music they like, budding film/TV directors got to workshop their skills in a short format, and the musicians were saddled with a stronger emphasis on their “image.” But someone saw the writing on the wall, as the very first video ever played on MTV was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. Quasi-prophetic, as it turned out that photogenically challenged artists were ushered to dark corners by record company stylists, and were kept there until their contacts ended. Musical talent became somewhat less of a factor for big-time success. What no one could ever, ever predict, though, is that within three decades MTV wouldn’t be playing any music at all!
Ya Can’t Kill It: Nowadays, in the era of file sharing, we’re all familiar with fear-mongering ad campaigns against copyright infringement. The BPI (British Phonographic Institute) released their famous campaign, “Home Taping is Killing Music… And It’s Illegal” back in 1981. It might have sounded scary then, but it’s more obvious now; the entertainment industry always panics over new technologies and consumer buying habits. Radio was supposed to kill live performance, vinyl was supposed to kill radio, TV was going to kill radio and movie theaters, VHS and cable TV was going to kill movie theaters, cassette dubbing was supposed to kill music, and so was CD burning. But, over the decades, entertainment sales grew and grew, and the industry survived. Now they say mp3, file sharing, and streaming services will kill the music industry. Should we believe it? Nah. Only one casualty is certain, though. With the advent of MTV, video killed the radio star.