MTV emerged as a platform for record labels to advertise their music on a global scale. Many artists owed their rapid rise in the music industry to MTV. In the initial stages it was the medium of choice to communicate with the youth. MTV came into being on August 1, 1981. It was to replicate to music the effect of ESPN on sports. With its introduction of the video, it transformed the music industry (Stolpmann 2 – 4).
These videos were very good sources of advertisement, and were as important as the record itself. In fact, the popularity of Madonna and other stars was chiefly due to these brief video clips. Thus, MTV virtually symbolized the pop culture. It has 72 channels in 140 nations and was broadcast in more than 32 languages.
The 1992, MTV Rock the Vote event brought together candidates and a new generation of voters. Even Bill Clinton, the then presidential candidate participated in a live interview on MTV, while his competitor George Bush declined to do so. Clinton’s triumph was attributed by many to his making a favorable impression upon the young voters, via MTV (Paoletta 46 – 48).
VJs, artists and participants in reality shows procured a celebrity status, courtesy of MTV. Anecdotally, the term video jockey or VJ was created by MTV. Many genres of music, like grunge and pop owed their success to MTV. Some of the artists and bands that benefitted from this initiative were, Britney Spears, Nirvana, Gorillaz and to some extent Michael Jackson.
Several controversial but socially relevant shows were broadcast by MTV. Some instances being, Teen Mom, and 16 and pregnant. The detractors of these programs accused MTV of corrupting the youth, whereas the more liberal minded believed that major problems of society, such as teenage mothers were finally being addressed in an open manner (Davidson 112 – 113).