MTV Is Introduced To The World – 8/1/1981

US History |


By now, MTV has become a household name. However, the television channel wasn’t close to what we see today. Short for Music Television, back when it first started, MTV would actually strictly show music videos. When it first aired on this day, one of the creators welcomed it in with the phrase, “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll.” 

At first, MTV was only viewable in New Jersey and first aired by showing the music video for “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. How ironic, right? Since then, MTV has become a household name and has really revolutionized the way we presented music, as well as how we presented entertainment and pop culture as a whole. It started to spread throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

At the very beginning of MTV, video jockeys would put together music videos that were provided for by record companies. At first, the videos weren’t very complex and were very basic. However, the more MTV started to gain traction in the industry, the more people wanted to see creative and high-class videos. With this being a big promotional ticket for any artist, everyone wanted to start making music videos and before we knew it, music started to merge with the film industry.

Some artists that really saw their careers take off thanks to MTV and the music videos they shared are Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and Duran, Duran. MTV kept classic artists like these on a constant rotation on the channel, so listeners and watchers could see their favorites throughout the day.

It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that MTV would dip into the non-music related programming. They started making a name for themselves with reality shows, which kept people glued to their channel all day long. Series such as “The Real World” caught the world by storm and soon brought other series along, like “The Osbournes,” “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica,” “Laguna Beach” and “My Super Sweet 16.”

In addition to reality TV, MTV also dipped into animation series when they debuted Beavis and Butthead and Celebrity Deathmatch, appealing to a younger, yet mature crowd. It wasn’t long before MTV was at the center of pop culture and really they were deciding what pop culture was. If it was on MTV, then it was popular and everyone wanted something to do with it. It really swept the world off their feet and continuously became more and more popular. 

In 1984, MTV launched their own awards show, the MTV Music Video Awards. Today, it is one of the biggest award shows which was made possible by their increasingly large fan base. They give out awards to artists for their excellence in music videos, which is what MTV was originally based on. It’s important to not forget your roots, but instead revolutionize your roots and continue to strive for better. That is something MTV has been doing ever since they started in 1981. Today, they have all sorts of different types of shows for anyone’s enjoyment. 

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