A music video is a short film or video that accompanies a complete piece of music, most commonly a song . Modern music videos were primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings. Although the origins of music videos go back much further, they came into their own in the 1980s , when MTV (Music Television)'s format was based around them.
Music videos are often called promotion videos or simply promos, due to the fact that they are usually promotional devices. Sometimes, music videos are termed short-form music videos to distinguish them from full length movies pertaining to music. In the 1980s, the term "rock video" was often used to describe this form of entertainment, although the term has fallen into disuse.
Music videos can accommodate all styles of filmmaking, including animation , live action films, documentaries , and non-narrative, abstract film .
History of music videos
In 1910 Alexander Scriabin wrote his symphony Prometheus -- Poem of Fire for orchestra and " light organ ". And as far back as the 1920s , the animated films of Oskar Fischinger (aptly labelled "visual music") were supplied with orchestral scores. Fischinger also made short animated films to advertise Electrola Records' new releases, making these films possibly the first music videos.
In 1929 the Russian film revolutionary Dziga Vertov made a 40 minute film called Man with the Movie Camera . It was an experiment on filming real, actual events, contrary to Georges Méliès theatrical approach. The film is entirely backed by music (played live by an orchestra on theaters) and has no dialogue at all. It's notable for the use of fast editing and fast frame frequencies, which were all synched to the music in order to create an emotion on the viewer. The film is highly regarded for setting the principles of the documentary genre, but it is also important in all filmmaking .
Sergei Eisenstein 's 1938 film Alexander Nevsky , which features extended scenes of battles choreographed to a score by Sergei Prokofiev , was influenced by Vertov's work and it set new standards for the use of music in film and has been described as the first music video.
Animation pioneer Max Fleischer introduced a series of sing-along short cartoons called Screen Songs , which invited audiences to sing along to popular songs by "following the bouncing ball". Early 1930s entries in the series featured popular musicians performing their hit songs on-camera in live-action segments during the cartoons .
The early animated efforts of Walt Disney , his Silly Symphonies , were built around music. The Warner Brothers cartoons, even today billed as Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies , were initially fashioned around specific songs from upcoming Warner Brothers musical films . Live action musical shorts, featuring such popular performers as Cab Calloway , were also distributed to theatres.
Blues singer Bessie Smith appeared in a two-reel short film called Saint Louis Blues ( 1929 ) featuring a dramatized performance of the hit song. It was shown in theatres until 1932. Numerous other musicians appeared in short musical subjects during this period. Later, in the mid-1940s, musician Louis Jordan made short films for his songs, some of which were spliced together into a bizarre feature film Lookout Sister ; these films were, according to music historian Donald Clarke, the ancestors of music videos  .
Another early form of music video were one-song films called "Soundies" made in the 1940s for the Panoram visual jukebox . These were short films of musical selections, usually just a band on a movie-set bandstand, made for playing. Thousands of Soundies were made, mostly of jazz musicians, but also torch singers, comedians, and dancers.
Before the Soundie, even dramatic movies typically had a musical interval, but the Soundie made the music the star and virtually all the name jazz performers appeared in Soundie shorts, many still available on compilation video tapes or DVDs.
The Panoram jukebox with eight three-minute Soundies were popular in taverns and night spots, but the fad faded during World War II .
Film and video promos
In 1956 Tony Bennett was filmed walking along The Serpentine in Hyde Park, London as his recording of " Stranger in Paradise " played; this film was distributed to and played by UK and US television stations, leading Bennett to later claim he made the first music video.
Around 1960 the Scopitone , a visual jukebox, was invented in France and short films were produced by many French artists, such as Serge Gainsbourg , Françoise Hardy and Jacques Dutronc to accompany their songs. Its use spread to other countries and similar machines such as the Cinebox in Italy and Color-Sonic in the USA were patented. 
In 1961 Ozzie Nelson directed and edited the video of "Travelin' Man" by his son Ricky Nelson . It featured images of various parts of the world mentioned in the Jerry Fuller song and Ricky singing. It is believed to be the very first rock video. Ricky also had a regular music slot on the family television show which played a great part in publicizing his career.
The pioneering full-colour music video for The Exciters ' "Tell Him" from 1962 greatly influenced all that came afterwards.
The defining work in the development of the modern music video was The Beatles ' first major motion picture, A Hard Day's Night in 1964 , directed by Richard Lester . The musical segments in this film arguably set out the basic visual vocabulary of today's music videos, influencing a vast number of contemporary musicians, and countless subsequent pop and rock group music videos.
That same year, The Beatles began filming short promotional films for their songs which were distributed for broadcast on television variety shows in other countries, primarily the U.S.A. (At the same time, The Byrds began using the same strategy to promote their singles in the United Kingdom , starting with the 1965 single "Set You Free This Time".) By the time The Beatles stopped touring in late 1966 their promotional films, like their recordings, were becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they now used these films to, in effect, tour for them.
Also in 1966 the clip of Bob Dylan performing " Subterranean Homesick Blues " filmed by D A Pennebaker was much used. The clip's ironic portrayal of a performance and the seemingly random inclusion of a celebrity ( Allen Ginsberg ) in a non-performing role also became mainstays of the form. The clip has been much imitated.
Although unashamedly based on A Hard Day's Night, the hugely popular American TV series The Monkees was another important influence on the development of the music video genre, with each episode including a number of specially-made film segments that were created to accompany the various Monkees songs used in the series. The series ran from 1966 to 1968 .
The Beatles took the genre to new heights with their groundbreaking films for " Strawberry Fields Forever " and " Penny Lane ", made in early 1967 , which used techniques borrowed from underground and avant garde film, such as reversed film effects, dramatic lighting, unusual camera angles and rhythmic editing. Created at the height of the psychedelic music period, these two landmark films are among the very first purpose-made concept videos that attempt to "illustrate" the song in an artful manner, rather than just creating a film of an idealized performance.
Other pioneering music videos made during this time include the promotional films made by The Doors . The group had a strong interest in film, since both lead singer Jim Morrison and keyboard player Ray Manzarek had met while studying film at UCLA . The clip for their debut single "Break On Through" is essentially structured as a filmed performance, but it is notable for its accomplished and atmospheric lighting, camera work and editing. The Doors also directed a superb promotional clip for their controversial 1968 anti-war single "The Unknown Soldier", in which the group stage a mock execution by firing squad. One of the clip's most innovative features is its use of external visuals sources, with extensive intercutting of archival footage and shocking contemporary TV footage of the carnage of the Vietnam War .
The Rolling Stones produced videos for songs such as "We Love You" (which made reference to the persecution of Oscar Wilde ), "2000 Light Years From Home", "Child of the Moon" and Jumping Jack Flash and collaborated with Jean-Luc Goddard on the film Sympathy for the Devil .
When released in 1968 , the animated film Yellow Submarine was an international sensation, although The Beatles themselves had only a tangential involvement with it. Soon it was commonplace for artists to make promotional films, and bands like The Byrds and The Beach Boys were also making promotional films. Although these "film clips" were often aired on pop music TV shows, they were still considered as secondary at that time, with live or mimed performances generally given precedence.
The promotional clip continued to grow in importance, with television programs such as The Midnight Special and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert mixing concert footage with clips incorporating camera tricks, special effects, and dramatizations of song lyrics.
Other important contributions to the development of the genre include the film of the Woodstock Festival , and the various concert films that were made during the early Seventies, most notably Joe Cocker 's Mad Dogs And Englishmen and particularly Pink Floyd 's groundbreaking Live at Pompeii concert film, which featured sophisticated rhythmic cross-cutting.
Many countries with local pop music industries soon copied the trend towards music videos. In Australia promotional films by Australian pop performers were being made on a regular basis by 1966; among the earliest known are clips by Australian groups The Masters Apprentices and The Loved Ones .
Surf film makers such as Bruce Brown , George Greenough and Alby Falzon also made important contributions in their films, which featured innovative combinations of images and music, and they notably dispensed with all narration and dialogue for many extended surfing sequences in their films, presenting the surfing action accompanied by suitably atmospheric music tracks.
George Greenough's 1972 film Crystal Voyager included a spectacular sequence (filmed by Greenough) that was constructed around the extended Pink Floyd track " Echoes ". The group reportedly agreed to allow him to use the music gratis, in exchange for a copy of Greenough's footage, which they used during their concerts for several years.
The first promo clip to combine all the elements of the modern music video is David Bowie 's promotional clip for the song The Jean Genie , which was released as single in late 1972 at the height of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust period. Filmed and directed by renowned photographer Mick Rock , this genre-defining four-minute film was produced for less than $350, shot in one day in San Francisco on 28th October 1972, and edited in less than two days.
The Swedish music group, ABBA , used promotional films throughout the 1970's to promote themselves in other countries when travelling or touring abroad became difficult. Almost all of these videos were directed by Chocolat and My Life as a Dog director, Lasse Hallström .
During the 1980s promotional videos became pretty much de rigueur for most recording artists, a rise which was famously parodied by UK BBC television comedy program Not The Nine O'Clock News who produced a spoof music video; "Nice Video, Shame About The Song". Frank Zappa also parodied the excesses of the genre in his satirical song "Be In My Video".
In the early to mid 1980s , artists started to use more sophisticated effects in their videos, and added a storyline or plot to the music video. Michael Jackson was the first artist to create the concept of the short film. A short film is a music video that has a beginning, middle and end. He did this in a small way with Billie Jean , directed by Steve Barron , then in a West Side Story way with director Bob Giraldi's Beat It , but it wasn't until the 1984 release of the Thriller short film that he took the music video format to another level. Thriller was a 14-minute-long music video with a clear beginning, middle and ending. Along with the plot, it also had ahead-of-its-time special effects and a memorable dance sequence which has been mimicked ever since this video was released. The video was directed by John Landis . Jackson then went on to make more famous short films such as, Bad (directed by Martin Scorsese ), Smooth Criminal , Remember the Time , Black or White , Scream , Earth Song and Ghosts .
A non-representational music video is one in which the musical artist is never shown. Because music videos are mainly intended to promote the artist, such videos are rare; two early 1980s examples, however, are Bruce Springsteen 's Atlantic City directed by Arnold Levine, and Penelope Spheeris ' David Bowie / Queen 's Under Pressure . Blues Traveler spoofs the non-representational style in its video for the song Runaround, in which a thin, stylish group of pretenders lip-synch the music while the real band performs backstage. Almost all of the videos by Tool are non-representational.
In 1981 , the U.S. video channel MTV launched, beginning an era of 24-hour-a-day music on television. (The first video broadcast was " Video Killed the Radio Star ", by The Buggles .) With this new outlet for material, the music video would, by the mid-1980s, grow to play a central role in popular music marketing. Many important acts of this period, most notably Madonna , owed a great deal of their success to the skilful construction and seductive appeal of their videos. Some academics have compared music video to silent film , and it is suggested that stars like Madonna have (often quite deliberately) constructed an image that in many ways echoes the image of the great stars of the silent era such as Greta Garbo . Although many see MTV as the start of a "golden era" of music videos and the unparalleled success of a new artform in popular culture, others see it as hastening the death of the true musical artist, because physical appeal is now critical to popularity to an unprecedented degree.
In the information technology era, music videos now approach the popularity of the songs themselves, being sold in collections on video tape and DVD . Enthusiasts of music videos sometimes watch them muted purely for their aesthetic value. Instead of watching the video for the music, (the basis for the artform), the videos are appreciated for their visual qualities, while viewers remain uninterested in the audio portion of the performance. This is a normal sociological reaction, some say, to the increasing trend in the music business to focus on visual appeal of artists, rather than the quality of the music. Critics say that the corporate music managers, over the course of logical and calculated business decisions, have sought to capitalize on the sex appeal of females in music videos rather than in choosing less profitable musicianship-based music.
In recent years, the 24p video technology gained popularity, giving a film look to the music videos.
- 1941: A new invention hits clubs and bars in the USA: The Panoram Soundie is a jukebox that plays short videoclips along with the music.
- 1956: Hollywood discovers the genre of music-centered films. A wave of rock'n'roll films begins ( Rock Around the Clock , Don't Knock the Rock , Shake, Rattle and Rock , Rock Pretty Baby , The Girl Can't Help It , and the famous Elvis Presley movies). Some of these films integrated musical performances into a story, others were simply revues.
- 1960: In France a re-invention of the Soundie, the Scopitone , gains limited success.
- 1962: British Television invents a new form of music television. Shows like Top Of The Pops , Ready! Steady! Go! and Oh, Boy started as band vehicles and became huge hits.
- 1964: The US-Television market adapts the format. Hullabaloo is one of the first US shows of this kind, followed by Shindig! (NBC) and American Bandstand; The Beatles star in A Hard Day's Night
- 1966: The first conceptual promos are aired, for the Beatles' " Paperback Writer " and " Rain ". Early in 1967, even more ambitious videos are released for " Penny Lane " and " Strawberry Fields Forever ".
- 1968: The Rolling Stones collaborate with Jean-Luc Goddard on Sympathy for the Devil
- 1970: The record industry discovers these TV-Shows as a great opportunity to promote their artists. They focus on producing short "Promos", early music videos which started to replace the live performance of the artist on the TV-stage.
- 1975: " Bohemian Rhapsody " a groundbreaking video released by Queen marked the beginning of the video era and set the language for the modern music video.
- 1979: Devo releases "The Day My Baby Gave Me a Suprise", which is the first music video to include computer animation as well as the first to include traditional animation.
- 1980: " Ashes to Ashes " which is considered as a groundbreaking video is released by David Bowie .
- 1981: MTV , the first 24-hour satellite music channel, launches. Initially few cable TV operators carried it, but it rapidly became a major hit and cultural icon.
- 1981: Michael Nesmith wins the first ever music video Grammy with Elephant Parts .
- 1983: Night Tracks debuted on Superstation WTBS (later known as TBS ) with up to 14 hours of music videos each weekend by 1985. This allowed nearly all U.S. households with Cable TV to view music videos regularly as MTV still wasn't as widely available at this point in time compared to WTBS .
- 1983: Friday Night Videos debuted on the NBC television network, allowing nearly all U.S. households to view music videos regularly.
- 1984: Michael Jackson 's short film Thriller is released, changing the concept of music videos forever. The Making of Thriller home video was also released in 1984. It was the first ever video about the making of a music video.
- 1986: " Sledgehammer ", the groundbreaking video from Peter Gabriel, is first shown.
- 1989: MTV renames its "Video Vanguard Award" to the "Michael Jackson Vanguard Award" in honor of Michael Jackson for his contributions to the art of music video.
- 1989: Madonna 's controversial video for Like a Prayer is released.
- 1991: Nirvana release the " Smells Like Teen Spirit " video changing the MTV platform from glam rock to alternative rock, and catapulting grunge and Kurt Cobain into the American and Worldwide mainstream.
- 1992: MTV begins to credit music video directors.
- 1992: Guns N' Roses 's groundbreaking video for " November Rain " is released and remains as one of the costliest ever produced.
- 1996: Pop-up Video is first aired on VH1 .
- 1996: M2 is launched as a 24-hour music video channel, as MTV has largely replaced videos with other content.
- 1999: M2 is renamed to MTV2 .
- 2002: MTV Hits is launched as MTV2 is gradually showing fewer music videos.
- 2006: The Norwegian unsigned band Rektor makes the worlds first playable videogame music video game . http://www.rektor.no .
Music video stations
Here are some of the most popular music video stations from around the world:
- Black Entertainment Television (BET) , BET (USA)
- C4TV , (New Zealand)
- Channel V , Channel V (Australia)
- Channel V , Channel V (India)
- Channel V , Channel V (International)
- FUSE , FUSE (USA)
- Hit Channel , Hit Channel (Italy)
- Juice TV , Juice TV (New Zealand)
- MCM , MCM (France)
- Melody Hits , Melody Hits (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine)
- MTV Asia , MTV (Asia)
- MTV Brazil , MTV (Brazil)
- MTV Canada , MTV (Canada)
- MTV China , MTV (China)
- MTV Europe , MTV (Europe)
- MTV France , MTV (France)
- MTV Germany , MTV (Germany)
- MTV Italy , MTV (Italy)