Does MTV really matter any more? | iLounge Backstage


Does MTV really matter any more?

A few days ago, we heard from iRiver - maker of the cool Clix line of MP3 players - that they were excited to be partnered with MTV for a 2006 Video Music Awards co-promotion featuring Clix and MTV’s URGE music download service. According to iRiver, in addition to ‘heavy’ promotion of URGE during the Video Music Awards (VMAs) show, several hundred celebrities would be receiving Clix hardware, no doubt a nice gift bag item given the device’s small size and unique interface.

The e-mail made me wonder, though: is MTV anywhere near as relevant of a music opinion leader as it was 15 or 20 years ago? Let’s put aside the common complaint that MTV barely plays music any more, and instead focuses on reality TV programming, beach parties, and other lighthearted entertainment - there is music to be heard on MTV, just less of it. But with the Internet and its tens of thousands of music-related web sites out there, do people really care about what one TV station says they should be listening to? For the rest of the story, click on Read More, below.

There’s evidence on both sides of these questions. People clearly continue to watch MTV, and there’s no doubt that music-themed shows like TRL still attract lots of attention from younger viewers, while music industry-influenced shows like Cribs and Pimp My Ride have at least some influence on what people think is cool in homes and cars. There’s also the fact that nothing has clearly emerged to supplant MTV in the United States - if you want to watch music videos on TV here, you’ll probably do it either on MTV, MTV2, or VH1.

But does MTV shape music opinion, merely reflect it, or neither? The network’s annual VMAs - supposedly highlighting the best in music video entertainment - came and went yesterday, and like past years, it seems unlikely that anyone will remember three days from now who won or lost, that any of the winners will go on to greater success because of their awards, and so on. Unlike the Grammies, Emmys, or Oscars, it seems like no one brags about their Moonman trophies - if they do, maybe it’s just that no one’s listening. This year, MTV switched some of its awards to a formula where viewers helped to choose the winners, perhaps hoping that the viewers would care more about the awards if they had some stake in the outcome.

And people are getting plenty of music video content these days from the Internet - a lot for free, from sites like AOL Music, the official web sites of bands, and elsewhere (read: Bittorrent). The rest comes from stores like Apple’s iTunes, which give you split-minute previews and let you make up your mind about buying the rest. Younger listeners have embraced the Internet quickly and fully; swapping MP3s was only the beginning.

The impression I get is that the Internet is basically eating MTV and other non-interactive media alive - artists can take their music and messages directly to the masses, find hundreds of different, semi-influential outlets to talk with, and become well-known even if MTV has no role in the process. People I talk with are finding more good music these days through blogs and other web sites rather than MTV’s Overdrive. Then, when they want to buy the music, they do it through iTunes, not URGE. For many people, MTV’s been cut entirely out of a loop it once could have controlled from end to end. In my view, the reason’s that MTV picked the wrong horse to back when it went with Microsoft rather than Apple, and is only beginning to reverse that trend with sales of certain of its TV shows through iTunes.

To be totally clear about one point, I don’t think this is a “good” thing - I actually like some of what MTV has done in the past, music and otherwise, and the network has definitely developed some of the most entertaining and conceptually influential TV programs of the past dozen years. I’ve actually paid for a bunch of them through the iTunes Music Store, and would buy even more if its older, all-too-frequently-cancelled-in-their-prime shows were also available. But as a music opinion leader, MTV has basically disappeared from my radar, and I can’t say that I mind. Readers, what do you think?

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There was an article the other day in the WSJ about how nobody bothers to go to the MTV web site and OverDrive, which has some podcasts on iTunes.

Instead, the people who watch some MTV shows go to and other sites, rather than MTV.

Posted by wco81 in West Coast on September 1, 2006 at 8:29 PM (CDT)


mtv doesnt care what you think…your TOO old..and you dont get it…  it is geared for 13 -21….so take you old man pills and shut up.

Posted by ERIC on September 2, 2006 at 11:23 AM (CDT)


ERIC: In case you haven’t noticed, MTV is utter cr*p. For example, Pimp My Ride is the most pointless show ever. Who the hell wants to have a big screen TV in the back of their car? What’re you going to do, park the car and get out to watch TV? And then half the sh*t on MTV is cr*p. I mean rap. But what’s the difference?

Note: I’m 16, well within MTV’s targeted audience.

Posted by MTVSucks on September 2, 2006 at 12:13 PM (CDT)


Do you mean that pimp my ride is a pointless show, or the modifications they make to cars are pointless?

Posted by IdontlikeMTVbutyousuck on September 2, 2006 at 3:02 PM (CDT)


MTV definitely has not been relevant for the better part of the last ten years. As has been mentioned and lamented about ad nauseum, they decided to move away from music and towards “the cultural context of music,” which is still debatable. That shift also marked how much influence it exerted. Instead of being a leading innovator of musical thought, it became a reactionary effect of music. In other words, as music continued the inevitable process change and evolution, the culture changes as well. MTV reacts to those changes and attempt to react to it.

In effect, they moved from the frontlines of musical evolution to the background. That’s not necessarily a good or a bad thing. It simply is what it is, but the net effect is that MTV is not relevant as a music opinion leader. And frankly, I think they like it that way.

Posted by Jason Martin on September 2, 2006 at 4:52 PM (CDT)


MTV never really mattered at all.

Posted by Jea on September 2, 2006 at 4:57 PM (CDT)


In the UK, MTV has been responsible in part for the demise of one of the longest running shows on TV - Top Of The Pops.
After 42 years of bringing the latest ‘chart music’ to the youth of the UK, TOTP finally closed it’s doors due to the likes of MTV and internet downloads.

MTV could well suffer the same fate ....

...we hope….

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on September 3, 2006 at 9:05 AM (CDT)


MTV: killer of beavis and butthead and headbanger’s ball.

just for that, it has become irrelevant, unneccesary, and utterly disregardable.

Posted by mrmojorisingi on September 4, 2006 at 1:02 AM (CDT)


One of things I was looking forward to most about cable tv was MTV.  This article has caused me to reflect on why I never watch it now that it has been installed.  It is just advert after advert for things that I won’t pay for - maybe I am too old, but I am just starting to have disposible income and in that sense, it is a big miss.  There is a sea change coming:  with file sharing, artists will make less money and so only people who would make music anyway will make it.  This will not mean the end of music but the end of the industry.  No more Backstreet Boys, no more Blink182, no more Good Charlotte.  No more manufactured bands, no more ‘I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Coldplay’,  no more Green Day-alikes.  And hopefully no Coldplay either…

Posted by Christopher Ferguson on September 9, 2006 at 5:25 AM (CDT)


I’m loving the fact that we’re in the midst of a revolution of sorts. MTV and record companies have been sticking it to consumers for years, cramming bad music down our throats, telling US what to listen to, what’s popular. But now with the advent of file sharing and music consumers are in control of what they’re listening to. Music is becoming less of a product, and returning to its original roots; A form of art.  Control is being shifted from the hands of those who’s primary goal is to make money, back into the hands of the consumers and the artists.  We’re going to see a resurgence of music by artists that actually have talent, and the demise of controlling corporations.

Embrace the revolution.

Posted by Matt on September 10, 2006 at 8:10 PM (CDT)


no, mtv is hot, i like how mtv plays only cool music, thats hott!  They know what cool people like to hear, and i mean you can’t kill mtv and mtv will always be a determining factor of “popular music”  They should have a ipod show, that would be cool, like “live podcasts” videos though..omg how cool.

oh and i would love an mtv ipod, there is a u2 (eew) ipod why not a mtv ipod, oh and pink, thats so hot! juicy! peace bitches

Posted by paris hilton on September 11, 2006 at 2:26 AM (CDT)

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