The writer once wrote about hip-hop. In this piece, we look back at how he strongly felt about MTV’s drift from hip-hop programing.
Well, it really killed the music industry as a whole. Actually, Snookie and that crew from Jersey put the nail in the coffin. You, see, throughout the years, anything that attached itself to television (or vice versa) has grown exponentially (Ask the NFL). Elvis did get radio play early in his career. But, his Ed Sullivan appearances rocketed him into the stratosphere. The Beatles actually had music on American radio waves in the early 1960’s. But when they appeared on Ed Sullivan’s show, then Beatlemania took off. And it was that way when MTV was launched back in 1981. When the channel and the music industry worked in tandem with one another, the sales numbers for albums and singles were astronomical. It was one of the biggest and best marriages in pop-culture history.
MTV also helped out Rap music on a cosmic level. Just like it’s older cousin, Rock N Roll, Rap was making noise on the radio before it got “love” from music video channels. But, when videos for Run D.M.C.’s “Walk This Way” and L.L. Cool J’s “I’m Bad” hit airwaves, hip-hop got a huge boost. But nothing could compare to the phenomenon of Yo! MTV Raps. When the show hit the air (1988), not since…Ed Sullivan’s rock n’ roll themed appearances had the union of T.V. and music been so powerful; and so successful. If a rapper’s video appeared on Raps, that rapper was almost guaranteed to sell at least gold (500,000 copies).
And it stayed that way. Until reality television was developed. Depending on your perspective, reality T.V. is either a stroke of genius, or the worst viral strain since ebola. I think I can assume that most die-hard music fans share the latter opinion. Because after The Osbournes debuted and blew up on MTV, the channel slowly and methodically moved away from music video programming like Diddy from Shyne in the Club New York trial. Nothing brings in ad dollars like ratings; especially ratings from the 15-35 demographic. When Madison Avenue’s biggest clients came calling, and wanted to place an ad for a soft drink in between Ozzy Osbourne’s incoherent babbling, everything changed. As a television channel, who’s money did you want more: Pepsi’s or St. Ides?
Since then, music video programming has been relegated to channels like MTV2. Or, early in the morning or late at night. Basically…when no one can watch them. Even BET only really promotes music videos on 106 And Park.
And that’s a big reason why hip-hop album sales have fallen. Sure, there’s YouTube. Music videos do get watched on that site. Eminem’s latest video has over 20 million hits. But, newer acts (Em has been around since 1998) don’t get the exposure that they deserve. For every Drake (and I’m betting even he could have gotten bigger sales if MTV and BET’s video programming game was stronger) there’s an Asher Roth who may have benefited from a Yo!MTV Raps. Or even Rap City, which used to air on BET. The music video was the best promotional tool of all time for the music industry. With it only really existing online, exposure for new artists gets crippled.
For those out there who feel that this argument is without any real merit, think about this: Do you think Jersey Shore would’ve worked an Internet-only program? Or do you think the show being on MTV made Shore the phenomenon it is? How about reading this nugget from multichannel.com”
“The series’ (Jersey Shore) sophomore-season premiere averaged 5.3 million viewers, a 280% jump from the show’s premiere audience of 1.4 million, according to Nielsen live + same-day data.
The episode scored a 10.4% advance over the 4.8 million who watched the reality show’s first-season finale on Jan. 21. It also marked a 96% improvement over its first-season average.
MTV said the July 29 telecast, which depicted the Italian-American housemates making their way to a new residence in Miami, was its best season-premiere rating in more than seven years, since the sophomore season launch of The Osbournes on Nov. 26, 2002.
In addition to record total viewership, the season-two starter also broke the Jersey Shore mark with a 5.1 rating among persons 12 to 34, the best performance in all of cable with that demo in 2010, according to MTV officials. ”
In other words, Yo! MTV Raps isn’t coming back anytime soon.
Originally appeared at Examiner.com
Photo kaziorplaysfrisbee Flickr