IDT Partners

  • history YouTube
  • YouTube Premium
  • Social impact YouTube
  • about 
  • solutions 
  • careers 
  • Music video

    A music video is a short film that integrates a song with imagery, and is produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings. There are also cases where songs are used in tie-in marketing campaigns that allow them to become more than just a song. Tie-ins and merchandising can be used for toys or for food or other products. Although the origins of the music video date back to musical short films that first appeared in the 1920s, they again came into prominence in the 1980s when the channel MTV (originally "Music Television") based their format around the medium. Prior to the 1980s, these kinds of videos were described by various terms including "illustrated song", "filmed insert", "promotional (promo) film", "promotional clip", "promotional video", "song video", "song clip" or "film clip".

    Musical films were another important precursor to music video, and several well-known music videos have imitated the style of classic Hollywood musicals from the 1930s to the 1950s. One of the best-known examples is Madonna's 1985 video for "Material Girl" (directed by Mary Lambert) which was closely modelled on Jack Cole's staging of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Several of Michael Jackson's videos show the unmistakable influence of the dance sequences in classic Hollywood musicals, including the landmark "Thriller" and the Martin Scorsese-directed "Bad", which was influenced by the stylised dance "fights" in the film version of West Side Story. According to the Internet Accuracy Project, disc jockey–singer J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson was the first to coin the phrase "music video", in 1959.

    Country music also picked up on the trend of promotional film clips to publicize songs. Sam Lovullo, the producer of the television series Hee Haw, said his show presented "what were, in reality, the first musical videos," while JMI Records made the same claim with Don Williams' 1973 song "The Shelter of Your Eyes". Country music historian Bob Millard wrote that JMI had pioneered the country music video concept by "producing a 3-minute film" to go along with Williams' song. Lovullo said his videos were conceptualized by having the show's staff go to nearby rural areas and film animals and farmers, before editing the footage to fit the storyline of a particular song. "The video material was a very workable production item for the show," he wrote. "It provided picture stories for songs. However, some of our guests felt the videos took attention away from their live performances, which they hoped would promote record sales. If they had a hit song, they didn't want to play it under comic barnyard footage." The concept's mixed reaction eventually spelled an end to the "video" concept on Hee Haw. Promotional films of country music songs, however, continued to be produced.

    In 1980, the music video to David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" became the most expensive ever made, having a production cost of $582,000 (equivalent to $1.77 million in 2018), the first music video to have a production cost of over $500,000. The video was made in solarised color with stark black-and-white scenes and was filmed in multiple locations, including a padded room and a rocky shore. The video became one of the most iconic ever made at the time, and its complex nature is seen as significant in the evolution of the music video.

    2005 saw the launch of the website YouTube, which made the viewing of online video much faster and easier; Google Videos, Yahoo! Video, Facebook and Myspace's video functionality use similar technology. Such websites had a profound effect on the viewing of music videos; some artists began to see success as a result of videos seen mostly or entirely online. The band OK Go capitalized on the growing trend, having achieved fame through the videos for two of their songs, "A Million Ways" in 2005 and "Here It Goes Again" in 2006, both of which first became well-known online (OK Go repeated the trick with another high-concept video in 2010, for their song "This Too Shall Pass").

    In the late 2010s, some artists began releasing alternative vertical videos tailored to mobile devices in addition to music videos; these vertical videos are generally platform-exclusive. These vertical videos are often shown on Snapchat's "Discover" section or within Spotify playlists. Early adopters of vertical video releases include the number-one hits "Havana" by Camila Cabello and "Girls Like You" by Maroon 5 and Cardi B.

    Madonna is the artist most associated with music video censorship. Controversy surrounding Madonna's marketing of her sexuality began with the video for "Lucky Star", and amplified over time due to clips such as "Like a Virgin". Outcry occurred over the subject matter (relating to teenage pregnancy) discussed in the video for the song "Papa Don't Preach". "Like a Prayer" courted heavy criticism due to its religious, sexual, and racially oriented imagery. In 1990, Madonna's music video for the song "Justify My Love" was banned by MTV due to its depiction of sadomasochism, homosexuality, cross-dressing, and group sex which generated a media firestorm. The debate over the banning of "Justify My Love" by the Canadian music video network MuchMusic led to the launching in 1991 of Too Much 4 Much, a series of occasional, late-night specials (still being aired in the early 2000s) in which videos officially banned by MuchMusic were broadcast, followed by panel discussion regarding why they were removed.

    As of 2005, the Egyptian state censorship committee banned at least 20 music videos which featured sexual connotations due to Muslim moral viewpoints. The music video of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" which featured Jessica Simpson in character as Daisy Duke, was controversial for featuring Simpson in "revealing" outfits and washing the General Lee car in her bikini. The controversy resulted in the music video being banned in some countries.