For music fans, it’s hard to remember a time when MTV was the epicenter of music programming. In its early stages, music videos were played non-stop to advertise popular music and help revitalize the music industry.
The biggest effect came from the response the network received from the American youth culture embracing this new outreach of lifestyle and entertainment. Originally, the network appeared to offer very little. However, due to the influence of music along with exposing new artists and mediums, MTV quickly gained anunexpected fan base. Besides introducing the world to countless new musical acts, MTV also changed the entire television industry and the way visuals, soundtracks and videos were incorporated into TV shows and commercials.
As MTV once stood as the leader for pop-culture entertainment, the focus eventually shifted away from music videos and instead focused on reality TV shows. As video once killed radio, reality then killed video. Today, MTV is known primarily for its reality shows. Shows like “True Life,” “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” have taken over the network and completely overshadowed the realism that made MTV so impactful during its peak.
Luckily, MTV is about to make some serious changes as the network plans to bring back some of its original music programming and completely shift the focus of its shows and promotions. As fans look for their old “Master of Puppets” shirts, they are hoping for the next great music program that will have the impact of “Headbangers Ball.”
The biggest changes coming are the revival of the “Unplugged” series which featured some of the most raw and intimate performances from bands such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Aerosmith, The Eagles, Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney among others. The program first aired in 1989 and featured a long run of great acts all through the 90s. The musical setting in which “Unplugged” is set establishes a connection beyond a specific fan base to connect to a wide range of viewers. The original program created bonds among the artistry and culture that were relatable for past and present audiences. While incorporating the nuance of the program’s original run, it will now feature elements from the multi-media platform that is so prominent in today’s culture.
MTV’s future plans are primarily focused on reaching that nostalgia of classic music and performances. Additionally, other plans include reaching the audience that pretends to be the most nostalgic about times they weren’t actually alive in, the millennials. Currently, the millennial age group makes up the majority of the station’s demographic. The revival of “Unplugged” is just another way MTV can appease to the love young people have for pop-culture, while delving into different ways to advance the network’s population.
It’s a common thing to look at how culture has changed and what influenced those changes, particularly in music and popular culture. As MTV and its long line of videos and live performances helped change American youth and pop-culture, it’s easy to look back on it now and say it’s no longer about the music as it once was. This move by MTV to elevate its programming doesn’t appear to be a ploy for ratings, but rather a new approach to bring back an old phenomenon.
The news of the revamped programming has stuck with old fans and reminded them what once was, what is current and what these changes might bring. In addition to “Unplugged,” MTV is introducing a new show called “Wonderland,” a new live performance series that will run weekly. It’s also supposed to introduce comedy performances on top of musical performances, all in a multimedia format.
MTV is doing much more than attempting to revive old music. It’s restoring a format of entertainment that features artists in a light they aren’t normally seen in. The elements that made MTV so groundbreaking all those years ago is exactly what the music industry needed then, and it’s exactly what’s needed now. As “Unplugged” and MTV make a return, music culture should regain its relevance and its profound impact.