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IILM, INSTITUTE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, GURGAON

Music and the Real World


MTV CASE ANALYSIS
Shantanu Malviya (PGP20125696) Vishnu Vg (PGP2012)

John Lack believed that some innovations can restore the television and the music industries in the U.S. Though the cable television originated in 1940s as a means of increasing access to broadcast. John Lack began to explore the concept of creating music video program. MTV was launched on August 1, 1981

EVOLUTION OF MTV In the Manhattan Boardroom, the idea seeded into the minds of the executives from different media groups to launch a music video cable channel. And the channel named MTV was launched for both promotion and entertainment purpose. The main idea behind the whole setup was to show music video in stereo that would cater youth market mainly of twelve to thirty four year audiences. Though it was a very challenging task to bring such a huge concept but the great belief of John Lack (Executive Vice President of programming and marketing at Warner Amex Cable Communication) made it possible. The other two persons who helped John Lack were Mike Nesmith, a member of the 1960, band The Monkees and Robert Pittman, a media wizard. The channel was launched on August 1, 198 1. WHO NEEDED MTV John Lack believed that some innovations can restore the television and the music industries in the U.S. Though the cable television originated in 1940s as a means of increasing access to broadcast. There were certain specialized channels like HBO, THE MOVIE CHANNEL, ESPN, and NICKELODEON. But the real fact was that there was no channel that catered directly to the young adult. The music industries originated in the form of live performances (formal and informal), phonographs, radio and disc jockeys (deejays). But the emerged recession resulted into the drop of disc craze and record industry suffered a lot. John Lack began to explore the concept of creating music video program. MTV was launched on August 1, 1981 with the words Ladies an d gentlemen, rock and roll. It was a beautiful shot of Neil Armstrong planting MTV flag on the moon. CENTRAL IDEA The channel like MTV which has a global presence has stapled the blurred lines between entertainment, art and advertising. Initially the main target was to cater18 to 34 year old audiences. So it should just not just be entertainment. MTV tried to be the representation of their values and the cultures as well. After the year 1985 MTV became more cultural institution which happened to be so because of the great support by Viacom International Inc. mainly. It spread network composed of Nickelodeon, MTV, and Video Hits 1, and targeted 25 to 54 year old demographics. MTVs multiple identities as cultural mirror, taste maker and advertising agency were combined with social and political campaigns. It shaped into various forms to become a tastemaker channel. Like their launch of MTV U and MTV Tr3 is a good example of MTV as a tastemaker. MTV U was launched in 2004 especially for university students where MTV Tr3 was launched in 2006 for their Hispanic audiences. As per the demand of the time MTV came up with its online website MTV.com to cater the

technocrats and there was 8.5 million visits till it completed its 30 th Anniversary. So far it proved to be a provider of culture, code words and unbounded youthful energy.

INFLUENCES AND CONTROVERSIES The channel has been a target of criticisms by various great persons and councils. The related controversies were regarding the choices of programmes, social issues, political correctness, sensitivity, censorship etc. Due to the blend of all these reasons the channel has perceived a negative social influence as well. Choices of program- Around the year 1983, the channel did not show the videos of urban contemporary and R&B artists. This cost MTV to face a criticism of Racist Practices and Rick James, an artist charged MTV with Racist practices. Censorship issues- There were certain music videos like Jesus Christ Pose by Soundgarden in 1991 and Megalomaniac by Incubus in 2004, which were banned. There are certain videos which were censored to eliminate drugs, sex violence, racism etc from them. Beavis and Butthead, the controversial show which ran from 1993 to 1997, came into picture because of its inappropriate contents, drawing complaints from parents, organizations, politicians and cable operators. The show was blamed for inspiring child arson and promoting offensive behavior. Skins was also in great controversies. In 2005 the parent television council released a report called MTV smut peddlers targeting kids with sex, drugs, and alcohol. British television series Skins In 2011 was a great controversial show. Apart from these issues there were some innovative issues that cost MTV, were born of financial constraints, for example launching kids in the show The Real World which was reviled and acclaimed by the critics and observers. Social activism - MTV, in addition to its regular programming, also focused on social, political and environmental activism in the young people. Some of the programmes that addresses social activism areChoose or Loose which was started in 1992 and the main purpose behind this channel was to inform young viewers on the political views and to increase their participation.

Free Your Mind, was launched in 1993 to target racial discrimination. Fight For Your Rights this annual campaigns was promoted in 1990s and early 2000s with a slogan speak out/standup against violence to bring awareness on crimes, drugs and violence issues. But apart from these drawings there were some great steps also taken to improve the channel and make it the most wanted channel. MTV took near about three years to show a profit and five years to breakeven. And during these time intervals the images of some of the artists like Madonna, Bruce Springstern and also some brands like V2 were also polished. It also helped the middle of the road artists to achieve fame. In overall we can say that MTV saved the music industry. Recommendations: MTV had encountered obstacles in reaching the local audience through their cultural

misunderstandings. It must understand the cultural milieu they are penetrating by making appropriate aspects such as advertising, brand, and cultural contexts. The weakness of MTV is that it caters to instant fleeting on-demand interests. As such MTV is bound to lose its dominating position because there are bound to be other interests the audience and market wants to be met. Thus MTV will need to find out what exactly these interests are and expand to this if they would want to maintain a dominating position. Cable Television offers several other choices that MTV is removed from its monopoly. MTV had encountered obstacles in reaching the local audience through their cultural misunderstandings. It must understand the cultural milieu they are penetrating by making appropriate aspects such as advertising, brand, and cultural contexts.