Why Doesn't MTV Play Music Videos Anymore?

Or how the internet killed the video star.

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In the past couple of days, a video called 'Why Doesn't MTV Play Music Videos Anymore?' has been doing the rounds on social networking sites. The spoof "Ask A Network Head" documentary made by bfirenzi has only been online for three days, but has already racked up close to a million views. The video is basically three minutes of a woman being blasted by a ruthless network exec for having the gall to ask "why does MTV now play reality shows and not music videos?" His ultimate conclusion is "you're not our f--king demographic anymore."

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It's a funny video, and an astute caricature of what post-2000 MTV has become. From the cancellation of Total Request Live back in 2008 to the news earlier this year that 80's metal TV hallmark Headbanger's Ball was being axed, it has become apparent that music based content is no longer what the channel is about. In fact, they've even dropped the "Music" from the Music Television subtitle. In the first clip ever aired on MTV, The Buggles announced that Video Killed The Radio Star. If bfrienzi's clip is to be believed, though, the internet has asserted its dominance by straight up murdering video.

And in many respects, that's a real shame, because MTV was one of the most important platforms for hearing new music throughout the 1980s and 1990s. From the opening mantra of "you'll never hear music in the same way again" on the channel's first broadcast back in 1981, MTV did push the boundaries. It helped cement black music into the mainstream through airing videos by artists such as Michael Jackson, Prince and Run DMC. It gave heavy metal a place on the tube with Metal Mania (later to become Headbanger's Ball) in 1986, not to mention airing the first Metallica video in 1989.

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Instances such as Nirvana's anarchic performance at the 1992 VMAs were not only water cooler television, but also benchmark events in modern day popular culture, while shows such as MTV Unplugged exposed audiences to new renditions of classic songs that have in themselves become iconic.

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Now, the closest that you're likely to get to music programming on MTV is seeing Lil Wayne auto tune his way through whatever his latest hit is on an award show that seems to have lost any sense of spontaneity or controversy.

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It is ironic that the "I want my MTV" refrain from Dire Straits' Money For Nothing, a song that, back in the day, was a satire of the channel and everything it stood for, has become a genuine cry from those who are nostalgic for days when music was on their television. But, is it just nostalgia that keeps those of us who remember it pining for MTV? Or are we, as bfrienzi's video suggests, so scared of getting older and "being totally irrelevant to pop-culture" that we're holding onto something that is, in itself, totally irrelevant?

Do I want my MTV? I mean really want it? Honestly, I don't know anymore.

By Alec Plowman

132 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Von II
    MTV just goes with the flow, wherever the money lies. If that's teen pregnancy and mentally challenged 'rappers', though luck music lovers!
    SwoobGuitar
    So the M in MTV doesn't stand for Music at all. It stands for Money!
    AARWave
    In Finland MTV most likely stands for Mainos TV which means "Advertisement TV"... Jeez it's a long time since I've even checked what's coming out of MTV, probably better this way.
    33SLASH33
    Dire Straits - Money For Nothing
    miahdoll
    Hey we got You Tube now! We can watch live shows and songs! Beats Mtv any day.
    Riggin22
    Yeah You Tube beats MTV, except one thing... The damn vevo commercials every single video over and over and over and over..... and over...
    Jordanelpaco
    Sure they done it better by having( well in the UK dont know if its the same in the US) MTV 2 for rock .. MTV dance , base , hits , classics etc sure now they even have MTV music cause they know how people feel if mtv was just music people would get annoyed that it only shows mainstream stuff lets be honest who doesnt love some of the programs theyve produced like beavis and butthead , jackass etc
    Mouloudo
    MTV always sucked, like Knoplfer said, money for nothing and chicks for free, mtv killed rock by promoting hair metal, then when it wasn't cool promoted grunge which killed rock even more and now they're playing rap which is the ultimate rock killer, so yeah f*ck em
    Pierfrittella
    the emas were horrible. they just confirmed that mtv is no more "music" television. Money for nothin' and chicks for freeeee!
    Abacus11
    Dumbass kids would rather watch Jersey Shore and I'm 12 and Pregnant and on Meth or whatever than music videos.
    ismeri
    Jersey shore > any music video in 20 years
    6-String_Madman
    funny! some 13 y/o kid who created an account just to defend her favorite "reality" show.
    ismeri
    yes i preemptively created this account 4 days before this article was even posted. you got me.
    Vabolo
    "One likes to believe in the freedom of music, But glittering prizes and endless compromises Shatter the illusion of integrity. "
    im not mental
    On August 1, 1981, MTV launched, and just as their first video predicted, Video Killed The Radio Star. The attention shifted from the art to the artist, and from the sound to the image. Soon the airwaves were seized by sexy girls and well-coordinated boy bands. Empathy, social awareness, and rebellion were replaced with self-devotion and arrogance. Eventually MTV would turn down the music to broadcast reality shows, proudly preserving and glamorizing the ignorance and arrogance. copypasta, but I feel it's true.
    jinsu2301
    it's basically the same with the History Channel. I don't know how ice road truckers and pawn shop owners relate to history. let's face it, traditional television is going down the drain and will be replaced by VOD and streaming someday
    ironman316
    Well, on Pawn Stars, people often bring in historical items and have it all explained to them. Makes sense. Ice Road Truckers, no clue.
    Obama FTW
    They should rename Mtv into something more appropriate since music isn't very relevant on Mtv anymore. Maybe bullshit television(BStv) or Terrible Show/Music television.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    Why would they? so they have to spend shit tons of that money they love so much on making new logo's, making commercials so EVERYBODY knows they are changing a simple name? They used to say: "MTV, Music Television YOU control", but they have stopped using that slogan for years now. The generation that whatches those shows probably dont know it used to be for Music videos That being said I really hate what they've done with the network. but the Youtube video basicly says it all. "It's funny because it's true"
    archangels
    Technically, it is still controlled by the viewers. It's just that the viewers have stated numerous times that they want to watch a bunch of orange people get drunk and fight each other.
    Riggin22
    I honestly hate that I'm 19 and have had to grow up around people that are as orange as Doritos and everyone loves auto tune music and sh*t like that. I love the 80s and my generations kids are totally unaware of actual "music".
    iommi600
    Youtube.
    JMZ08
    Where's the fun in sitting alone by yourself in front of a monitor watching videos of some band that people ain't heard of yet? MTV was sick coz you could literally ring somebody you know and tell em to watch it coz there's a band on there blowing minds! Now you copy and paste a link to a video that has 24 hits. There's no substance to that.
    Abacus11
    I don't hope he dies but I DO hope that he stops trying to make music and quietly goes to work at a Burger King or something and I never hear about him again.
    eVwaylon
    along with beiber... i cant really name any other pop stars because i dont know if the ones i know are even relevant anymore. Rihanna? is she still a thing?
    whywefight
    'Should we all preserve your precious sleepover nights watching promotional material put out by record labels in amber like the mosquito in jurassic park?' ^That sentence alone made me understand why mtv doesn't play music anymore.
    scrymusic
    Because todays demographic or youth are snowed by stupidity and have no clue what music or real music is... Not to mention computer technology has taken away the ned to watch it on TV ... Youtube vimeo etc etc... Marketing has changed.
    Zanary
    I watched MTV early on, and loved what it grew into...for awhile. There was a time when MTV had a good mix of genres, shows that would concentrate on a given genre (Headbangers' Ball, Yo! MTV Raps, etc), but then came: The Real World. That was the worst show imaginable, and it would go on to create the "reality TV" damage that has made some networks unwatchable. Hell, FOX dumped essentially everything that wasn't reality TV or The Simpsons...toe the chagrin of Firefly fans (guilty). MTV went very much downhill in the 90's. There seemed to be a ton of racial guilt at the network; you didn't see Caucasians videos on the channel at all shortly after Cobain died, and videos got less and less important to MTV. MTV2 was supposed to be all about the music...but I saw some cartoon marathon last time I tried the channel. Screw 'em, VH1 Classic and Palladia are what MTV should be.
    tukk04
    Way to steal the idea from a thread for a "news" story, Stay Classy UG.
    mckenna64
    That Lil' Wayne performance was embarrassing from start to finish. I don't watch music channels any more, I have no interest in someone wearing pants around his knees while he sings about ****ing up a mother****er, mother****er up his ass, mother****er. Or whatever he was coming out with during the Iron Man riff.
    rebreh
    This video has a good point. There is no point wading through MTV as a captive viewer when I can go on to youtube and look up any artist I want. There is some complaints that this will only foster cultural isolation but I think it does the opposite. I have hard more artists from many different genres just from clicking on reccomended videos or talking to friends. Plus, lets admit it, most of the songs MTV played where crappy. True, Nirvana broke big on MTV but they where mixed in with MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Mariah Carey, and a whole ton of crappy pop artists. If MTV went back to playing videos you may see your favorite rock band every now and again but trust me, you are going to get your fill of Katy Perry way before that.
    Jyrgen
    The Internet is a much better thing anyway so I ain't even mad at MTV. Nice that they gave exposure to some cool music back at the day but nowadays it's so more convenient to use the web to find new music you might like.
    demonhellcat
    It's a very funny satire but at same time it's the absolute truth. Music videos are just about worthless now. Like the video said if you want music videos, Youtube has them, if you want to find new music or artists there's Pandora, Spotify, Lastfm, etc.
    3OddOnes
    Being a part of their demographic, I can honestly say: Bring back the music videos and get rid of those completely and utterly shit reality shows that make me feel like committing mass homocide, rather than feel superior. No matter how bad I think pop is, or how much I dislike the videos, I would rather they be shown than shows about people who made a sex tape to get famous.
    EnslaveTheWorld
    If it was profitable to have music videos running on a channel every day, believe me, there would be. But it's not. And that's why we don't see any other company picking up the mantle. Yeah I know VH1 still exist, but do people really watch it? I guess that's the whole point right there. We have stuff like YouTube. It's all nostalgic. But it's a nostalgic feeling I share as well, no matter the viewpoint.
    LightxGrenade
    The thing is, MTV DID NOT stop playing music videos. They just moved it all to another channel. Check out MTV U and Palladia. Palladia in particular is a channel that MTV owns that does nothing but play music and interview artists. Any given moment you turn on that channel you'll get an MTV unplugged performance, an interview from a musician, or a video of a live concert. My favorite show on Palladia is "Later With Jools Holland" which is a night time show where all manners of musicians come to play a live set and be interviewed. For example, one of the cooler episodes had Muse, the Beach Boys, and The XX playing.
    mckenna64
    Yeah Jools Holland is pretty good, he usually stays away from the top 10, and has a reasonable mix of genres. Soundgarden was on last week.
    TheExterminator
    People forget MTV has always provided vapid, soulless crap, even when they played music videos. Remember Glam Metal? Crappy Pop Rock with hairspray and makeup? MTV has always sucked and has always provided content for the lowest common denominator. People who complain about the lack of music videos on MTV are just the last generation of morons.
    Kueller917
    MTV just became corporate. They followed trends whether it had to do with music or not. I actually don't mind the fact they play pop artists, because they've always played pop artists, but it's the irrelevant reality shows and general shameless teenage pandering that bugs me. It doesn't really matter anymore though. YouTube and other internet sites have become better tools for new music than TV could ever have tried to do. I'll take that.
    morbidguitar
    mtv doesnt play music videos because most of the new popular music is shit and who has the time to sit there watching this garbage when i can go online and watch what i want on youtube. Simple.
    trently13
    @jinsu2301 pawn stars has nothing but historical items and facts on the show. if you cant see that you have a problem MTV has no balls at all. it succomed to a demographic instead of sticking to what its about and thats why its a shitty network today! this is why they made VH1 Classic that only shows Music,Metal, and its history, NOTE: "music". this is why vh! classic is outshining MTV and FUSE.
    explosionate
    It's not just MTV. Look at what's on the History Channel, TLC, VH1, G4. The food network used to be more international, and now it's just fat pseudo chefs eating giant servings of cheeseburgers and such.
    The Spoon
    Hey now, I can still watch a man eat testicles for pleasure on the Travel Channel. TV hasn't gone to shit just yet!
    Wisthler
    Thanks god. Honestly If me and my bandmates ever made a sucessful single, with a gret music video that hits between the top of the charts, and MTV plays my music... I would feel completly humillated.
    hrnttwk
    I remember waiting for MTV to come on the air for the first time. Now it's crap. Might as well change it to R(reality)TV. And this is why I watch VH1 Classics. Not saying they are the greatest thing on earth, but at least they constantly play the great stuff I grew up on.
    spiff-corgi
    I waaaaant myyyyy. I waaaaant myy MTVVVVV. I dunno how people really care tbh. Like the satirical video says, you can go on youtube to watch any music video you want, plus there are tons of other channels that do still play music videos.
    Crimson.King
    I had MTV in the early days and it was so cool...the first place I saw The Pretenders, XTC, Squeeze, Thomas Dolby, Iron Maiden, Lene Lovich, etc...but the best thing they ever did was show a live Frank Zappa Halloween night 1981 concert.
    thejay2
    Fucking hell! that is so obvious that 'lil wayne' is using auto tune! i mean seriously how does this guy sell his 'music' he clearly has no talent! it's just appalling! Also to add that he ripped off Sabbath too! what has the world come to where this is popular?!
    rocker222
    Lets face it, i would rather watch youtube with add blocker than mtv any day.
    TheSlyFooX
    Did you notice that a lot of good bands got their start on MTV.
    Kueller917
    A lot of bands are getting popularity through internet nowadays. Just more evidence to show that MTV isn't needed for music anymore.
    -Annihilation-
    Mtv still plays music. They have 3 or 4 different "Mtv" stations. At least 2 play music all day. People who say "Mtv doesn't play music anymore!!" really mean "Mtv plays what I don't consider music!!!Where's the Smells like Teen Spirit I miss being played every few minutes!?!!?!" Plus, Mtv is about catering to the masses. They play what's popular. Back when "Mtv played music", Nirvana was popular...of course they're going to play it. Justin Beiber is popular now so guess what they're going to blast 24/7... If you don't like Mtv not playing music anymore, there are other music channels to watch.
    losing battle
    How the hell is this the top news story? I know its a slow day but come on.
    shelovemyguitar
    Why are you even here?
    spiff-corgi
    Why are any of us here, man? What's it all about?