A music video is a motion picture made to accompany a song or piece of music. Today they are essentially used as a marketing tool designed to promote sales of an artist’s music although the
history of the music video dates back to the late 19th century. The first music video was created by an electrician called George Thomas in 1894. By projecting a number of still images of performances onto a screen he created what was known at the time as an illustrated song.
This technique became a popular means of entertainment until the arrival of the ‘talkies’ in the 1920s. Music videos gradually developed in the first half of the 20th century and by the 1960s popular
music was being taped in a studio and videos added at a later date. A prime example of this style as the promotion clip made for the Animal’s 1964 hit ‘House of the Rising Sun’. The song was taped and a video of the band lip synching was recorded to produce a high quality, colour clip.
Similar styles of promotional clips were shot over the next two decades until the arrival of music television in the late 1970s. Top of the Tops, the British music show began playing music videos around this time although the number of outsourced videos the show could air was limited by the BBC. As a consequence, bands soon realised a good music video would increase single sales as the public would purchase the songs in order to see the video the following week. In 1975 Bruce Gowers produced a promo video for the Queen classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in order for it to appear on the show.
Music videos became mainstream in 1981 with the launch of U.S. channel MTV. The Buggles ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ was the first ever music video to be aired on the channel. Throughout the 1980s, with the development of inexpensive video recording and editing equipment, it became the norm for artists to record a music video with every single they released. Notable videos in the decade include the 1983 release for Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. The 14 minute epic cost $500,000 to make and is widely regarded as the most successful music video of all time. ‘Money for Nothing’ by Dire Straits was also a pioneering music video of the decade in the sense of the advanced computer animation used in the production. The video is widely attributed for making the song an international hit.
In 1985, MTV launched the channel VH1, aimed at an audience of a slightly older generation than MTV. This was followed by the launch of The Chart Show, aired on Channel 4 in the UK in 1986. In 2005 the website You-Tube was launched making viewing music videos online much easier. The social networking site MySpace also accommodated similar video facilities in 2007. Websites like these had a huge effect on the way music videos were viewed and, as downloading music from the internet became more and more popular, videos became a major source of fame for artists, regardless of their fame or status.
After YouTube’s merger with Google, the site promised to pay royalties to major record companies for music videos it had uploaded onto it. Apple’s iTunes Store now sell music videos that have been
compressed in order to watch on the latest version of the iPod, which has video playback capability.