There was a time in the music industry when the success of a song was judged on whether it topped both radio and Billboard charts and made an impact on MTV.
MTV, which stood for Music Television, is widely credited to be the harbinger of modern music videos being a part of pop culture. Long before the channel was known for its controversial and trending reality shows, it aired music videos on its platform 24/7, helping to make them popular among the general public. Seemingly overnight, it changed how artists marketed their music and how the listeners consumed their songs.
The digital revolution has brought about lots of changes over the years. MTV no longer airs music videos as it has switched its focus to reality TV, and the emergence of Youtube and other video streaming channels on the Internet has ensured that the influence of music videos on the general population has not only remained constant but also increased in popularity over the years. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for music videos to boast cinematic treatment and to feature awe-inspiring special effects. And it has become standard procedure for an artist to hire a music video production company to create audiovisual content for his or her song.
Clearly, music videos are here to stay, but what is it about them that makes them so powerful and influential?
On the part of the artists themselves, it is an extension of their general creative vision and, in some cases, their beliefs. Iconic artists like Michael Jackson and David Bowie have achieved their legendary status due as much to the incredible production of their music videos as for their actual songs. Modern artists like Beyonce and Childish Gambino, meanwhile, use their videos to express their opinions on current world issues.
For many directors and production crew members, these videos are a crucial jump-off point through which they can explore their creativity and hone their skills. For many of these creatives, especially those who are young and just starting in the industry, such videos can be a way for them to break into the industry and build their portfolio.
But what about those who are the target audience of such videos? How do they affect and influence the lives of those who watch them?
Clearly, music videos are created and produced in such a way as to induce emotional responses on us, the viewers. We could be crying because we’ve been so touched by what we’ve seen or we could be shocked because we’re just plain amazed by the epicness of the production.
Even our personal beliefs can be influenced by the messages we see in such videos. For instance, how many of us have been enlightened about the Black Lives Matter movement because of Beyonce’s “Formation”? Music videos are no longer just mere accompaniments to the songs they were created for; they have become tools in helping to improve society for the better.
As the times change, music videos will continue to evolve as well. But no matter what form they take or what platform they appear on, one thing remains the same: they will always be an important part of pop culture.