When I was younger, there were very few things I enjoyed more than just popping in front of the TV set and watching music videos on television. There were many channels that featured music videos, music news, music documentary specials, and a host of other music related formats. MTV, VH1. BET. The Box, and a slew of other channels were exclusively geared toward music and overall music culture. I always dreamed about having my music video on MTV. Who didn’t? Than at some point during the last decade, things begun to change. Television channels that were predominantly geared toward music, started to drift more and more away from music, to a few of these channels eventually seemed to focus more on reality shows instead of music. Ya, some of those shows were entertaining (c’mon you telling me you never watched “Flavor of Love,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” or “Punk’d”), but what happened to music videos? In the early 80s, musicians were singing, “video killed the radio star.” Now musicians are singing “internet killed the music video star.”
Video Killed the Radio The Radio Star – by The Buggles
Internet Killed the Radio Star – by The Limousines
Today anyone can film a video and pop it onto youtube, and try to direct fans to it. But, it still does not hold the weight that having your own music video on MTV, VH1, or CMT did.
MTV went from having groundbreaking shows like “Yo! MTV Raps,” “MTV Unplugged,” and “120 Minutes” to “Catfish,” “Jersey Shore,” and “Teen Mom.” VH1 went from having “Pop Up Video,” “Top 10 Countdown,” and “VH1 Storytellers,” to “
Flavor of Love,” “Rock of Love,” and many of their other “Celebreality” shows. But, many of our cries for MORE VIDEOS has been heard! Just recently it was announced that on July 4th channels like MTV, VH1, and CMT will throw a “Music Independence Day” party. The plan is that all 3 music channels will solely play music from 6AM – 6PM. The goal is not to ONLY play the big name artists, but to play some up and coming lesser known acts. All the channels want to try and give exposure to artists who in today’s music industry have a difficult time getting any exposure. The artists who will be getting played are culled from submissions sent into the music networks new online music discovery platform, known as “Artists’ Platform.” Imagine the possibilities? YOUR music can be played, right after the newest Kanye West or Justin Timberlake video. The goal for emerging and indie artists to be played alongside today’s music industry superstars. According to Head of Viacom, Van Toffler, “even if they don’t make it on the air, it is good exposure and provides a gathering place for fans. If a Bluegrass band earns enough to buy a new bus or a rap act purchases new equipment, then this is considered a success.
All 3 networks started off as music video channels. But, recently have altered their formats to follow the social and popular trends, especially with the rise in popularity of reality shows during the early and mid 2000’s. Much of the music that could be played on these channels is concentrated online or on some of the digital channels, like with VH1 Classic. MTV occasionally plays music in the form of a “dance party” type playlist in the very early hours of the AM. VH1 still plays music, but at like 6AM or 7AM with their “Jump Start” morning music show. CMT still plays their “Hot 20 Countdown” on the weekends. Other than that, not much else.
According to Van Toffler, the 4th of July music show “harkens back to the core of these music brands.” Each network willhandle the day with a different twist. MTV will play music continuously, with videos from artists like Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. VH1 will feature music by Alicia Keys, Pink, and Maroon 5. They will also broadcast the “Philly 4th of July Jam,” which is hosted by Jim Shearer and features performances by The Roots, John Mayer, Jill Scott, and Demi Lovato. CMT will play what they call an “Ultimate BBQ Playlist,” which consists of and established country acts. In addition, VH1 will also premiere its new series “Stop/Watch.” “Stop/Watch” is a show that asks recording artists to perform an entire song in 60 seconds flat.
Van Toffler understands that today it is difficult and confusing for fans to find new music. The beauty of the having this event on major networks is that it emphasizes the ability and strength these networks still have to curate new music for a thirsty audience of fans. He says, “in part it is to remind people what an immersive experience we can provide so people can hear the music and the artists and the stories behind the artists.”
According to journalist David Bauder on this article from the Huffington Post, “there ‘s not much for the networks to lose from such an event. The first week of July is traditionally the lightest week of the year for television watching, primarily because so many people are outside or doing other things.” Van Toffler seems to be pretty excited about this. He said, “It’s a celebration and we hope we can do it more often.” Well Mr. Toffler, so do we!
I will leave you with this…