Thursday, January 22, 2009

Music Note #3: "Internet Killed the Video Star"

If you don't know what song I'm referring to in my title, it's the 1979 single "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles. It was the first video that premiered on MTV when it debuted its channel in 1981. The song describes the demise of the golden age of radio and the rise of television. Well, we have come to another passing of an era, the end of the music video and music channels. As with television, the technological change of the internet has decreased the importance of music videos on television to create stars and promote new music.

Michael Stipe, from R.E.M., even said that music videos are a thing of the past. "It is what it is, and I think anyone who refutes that is an idiot in 2008," he told the Associated Press. "We can all agree as a medium music videos really found their place in pop culture in the 1990s, [but they've been] replaced by the Internet in the 21st century."

Music channels like MTV, VH1, and BET now suck when it comes to music and music videos. Years before, someone could spend a whole day watching videos on these channels, but now you can barely see one or see the entire video. Slowly music shows are being replaced by mindless reality TV, or as I call it TV Ga-Ga (referencing Queen's song Radio Ga-Ga), that has nothing to do with the purpose that the channels had in the first place. Today, the only channels that have any significance in showing music related things are Fuse (which ranges from popular music to music in the 90s to underground music), VH1 Classic (older music videos, concerts, movies, etc.), BETJ (underground neo-soul music and classic soul, jazz, reggae, etc. specials) and BET Soul (more soul music).

Still, can you blame them for changing their programs? The previous ones are not making them any money anymore. With the introduction to the Internet, people can find out about new artists, new songs and download videos in seconds. They no longer have to wait in front of the TV to be shown a video and usually it is online before it is shown on TV. When they want to see it, it is in cyberspace waiting for them. Not only that, but also fans can take the songs they like and make their own.

Is the Internet changing how we listen to music? Queen sang in their song Radio Ga-Ga that we don't listen to the music anymore. Will the Internet make us lazy when it comes to finding out about new music and new artists because it will always be there waiting for us to eventually check them out? Or will we go back to actually listening to the music and listening for better music, not some of the throw-away stuff we have today? Also, how will artists promote their songs today without music videos? Only time will tell.

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