The rise and fall of MTV

February 25, 2021

What happened to MTV? It’s February 8th, 2010, and something subtle happens, so discreet not many people notice. But it confirms the end of an era. And, while MTV continues to exist, that small change is transcendental. This is a brand’s capitulation to new tendencies. MTV marked generations, set trends, and gave us new ways of enjoying music. It also helped launch some of the music industry’s biggest names. But now, music purists repeatedly say that the brand is dead. But, what does this mean? Let’s talk about MTV in this episode of Company Forensics. MTV’s predecessor was Sight on Sound, a Warner Cable product that consisted of a music channel with concert footage and music-oriented content, but no original music videos. In turn, this channel was part of the QUBE system, Warner-Amex’s interactive cable television system prototype. Viewers could vote on their favorite songs and artists, win prizes and interact with DJs. Think of it as the predecessor to interactive media altogether.

But MTV, as we once knew it, was Robert W. Pittman’s product, a visionary executive. Thanks to his experience in the music industry, he had come up with an idea to create a network dedicated only to music. It wouldn’t be any music channel; the total opposite. Pittman knew he had to aim to be anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian, and have the under-30 audience at his grasp. MTV wouldn’t be afraid of playing rock songs with the latest and craziest music videos. Its VJs would be young and cool, and the stages would have delirious backgrounds. Pittman even hired the Manhattan Design studio to create the iconic logo. And it was the first step towards making history. But a rocky one.



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