Perhaps There Isn't Any Money in Playing Music Videos Anymore

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There aren’t many music video channels around anymore. In the beginning, music videos were played everywhere; they existed on video cassettes, or you could find them on nationally syndicated programs that often started off with local television stations as well as MTV. But by the time MTV was overtaken by reality shows things had really started to change. The challenge that music videos are facing now is that they can be watched online on various web pages. You no longer have to turn on the television to watch music videos.

Even In Demand, which feeds various cable networks with content that require a digital cable box to view has music videos hidden on channels dedicated to MTV, BET and VH1. One thing that has come about in the wake of digital television is The Cool TV, a free station that plays music videos all day, every day. Not every market is covered, but a lot are, and you actually do feel as though you are watching MTV all over again.

At the same time I often wonder if there is any money in playing music videos these days. Some of the videos they play are new, but a lot of them are old concert videos from the seventies, just like it was with MTV when the novelty of watching music videos all day long was enough to keep you glued to the set but the actual selection of music that was being played left much to be desired. This is often how music video channels start though; MTV2 started off with a very obscure lineup of artists. Over time they added actual shows to their lineup and are now a strange hybrid of MTV and reality shows, but with a twist.

Another thing that differentiated MTV2 from MTV was their embrace of hip-hop. In the beginning MTV was known for their refusal to play Black videos, though Michael Jackson was successful enough to tear down that wall (even though they were initially hesitant to play his videos, and things had to get ugly). MTV2 took on hip-hop, where MTV had moved away from hip-hop after their Yo! MTV Raps was cancelled in 1999 (by then it was simply Yo!).

Most assumed that the show was cancelled in 1995 with that legendary episode where every important artist in hip-hop gave a performance, but it was repackaged as Yo! and hung around until 1999. At the same time Yo! was winding down on MTV, a network called M2 (which would later become MTV2) was rising in popularity. MTV2 hosted an 8 hour block of programming called Sucker Free Sundays, beginning in 2003. Around that time a lot of the money that was being spent on music videos was being spent on hip-hop videos.

Things are a bit different in 2011. Hip-hop videos are no longer known for exploiting “video girls”, sex vixens that were the eye candy responsible for the rise in popularity to begin with. It is not that rap videos no longer feature provocative images of Black women, but they also feature provocative images of women of every race. The focus changed from dark skinned women that people outside of the hip-hop culture rarely knew about that were somewhat representative of the girls that actually listen to and support hip-hop to women in general, whose only association with the culture is the fact that they work as a video girl. Since hip-hop has diluted itself and is no longer an accurate representation of the poor and disenfranchised it is no longer relevant, and people aren’t checking for hip-hop videos anymore.

How many artists have videos that you actually want to watch? Outside of Kanye West, Eminem, Katy Perry, Lady GaGa, Rihanna, Beyonce, Drake, Lil’ Wayne, or Nicki Minaj or on a good day, Jay-Z whose videos are people really tuning into? The aforementioned spend large sums of money on their videos and give a theatrical, if not controversial, experience and you are always entertained regardless of what you feel about the artist. A lot of other artists put out music videos that are just boring. I like Trey Songz videos, and Kelly Rowland has an interesting video for her song with David Guetta but most videos are like, whatever.

In the nineties, or even over the last decade you could see great music videos from anyone. I was compelled to download Linkin Park’s “The Catalyst” beacuse it was such a great video. For the record, Linkin Park is not a Christian band; take that song however you want to but they are just trying to raise consciousness, they aren’t talking about Christ (I understand where you are coming from, I was naive and thought that Creed was a Christian band as well but upon doing more research it is clear that was not what they were talking about either). Not everyone that talks about God is talking about Christ, but that is for another article. My point is that there are some epic music videos that you just have to watch, and there are a lot of other videos that are nothing special. If MTV were to play music videos all day long they were be saddled with a lot of music videos that are not worth the money it takes for them to be put into rotation, and they might actually loose money.

Does anyone remember just how many commercials the network started to air over time? Does anyone remember how the same songs are being played every 15 minutes on their sister networks that still do play music videos all day long such as MTV Hits, MTV Jams, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul and CMT Pure Country? A lot of us can get either MTV2 or The Cool TV over the air. There is no logical reason for MTV to go back to playing nothing but music videos; I doubt that as many people would watch it. It would be nice, but the novelty would wear off as MTV’s competition has picked up considerably since they made that change to reality shows ten years ago. 

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