History Of The Music Video

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized


1926—27: The talkies. These were the first musical short films produced featuring many bands, vocalists and dancers.  The first feature film originally presented as a talkie was the ‘The Jazz Singer’ released in October 1927

1930’s/1940’s: Series of cartoon films were created which encouraged audiences to sing along “follow the bouncing ball.” The early animated films by Walt Disney, such as the ‘silly symphonies’ shorts and especially ‘Fantasia’, which featured several interpretations of classical pieces were built around music.

1940’s: Soundies: Another early form of music video were one song films called ‘Soundies’ made for the Panoram Visual Jukebox. Thousands of ‘Soundies’ were made mostly of Jazz musicians, but also of comedians and dancers.

1930’s – 1950’s: The Musical: Classical Hollywood musical also were an important precursor to the music video. As well as being a precursor, many Hollywood musicals have even influenced the style of popular music videos, like ‘Smooth Criminal’ by Michael Jackson and ‘Material Girl’ by Madonna which was directly influenced by ‘Men Prefer Blondes’ which was performed in 1953.

1956: Television:  The rise of popular music was tied with the rise of television as the format exposed new and up-coming stars.

1957: Elvis Presley:  The single ‘Jailhouse Rock’ was released to accompany the motion picture of the same name. Elvis influenced British artists such as Cliff Richard and The Beatles.

Elvis in Jailhouse Rock

1964-1965: The Beatles: This band set the stage so to speak for the modern music video with the motion picture ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’ In 1965 The Beatles made ten ‘films’ which were used to promote their album release.

1981: MTV: 24 hour television broadcast meant music videos began to play a central role in music marketing by the mid 80’s. The first video played on the channel was The Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star.

1983: Thriller: Michael Jackson’s most successful and influential video of all time is released, the music video becomes partly for entertainment purposes too.

Snapshot from Thriller by MJ

1990’s: The Rise of the Director: Music video’s began to become directed, like films, starting the major theme of entertainment and marketing purposes to their creation

2005: Youtube: This new web 2.0 technology allowed people to watch and discuss videos online. New artists start to see popularity and fame through the posting videos on the internet alone, these artists include Jessie J.

Youtube Logo

2005: iTunes:  This also allows for the sales of music videos via download from the internet. It hits one million downloads after only 20 days of being operational. The music video now becomes a product rather than a promotional tool.


Today– Music and the Media.

2010: The number of music videos viewed online reaches 34 billion. Lady GaGa’s music video views reached one billion. Her song ‘Poker Face’ saw 375 million views alone. Web 2.0 allows for viewers to watch and comment on music videos, even allowing them to upload their own. This in a sense has opened up the opportunities for the audience to become the producers.  The line between artist and audience has been blurred.

Lady GaGa

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