On this day in music history: August 1, 1981 – At 12:01 am, MTV, the world’s first 24 hour cable music network is launched. A joint venture between Warner Communications and American Express (i.e. Warner-Amex Cable, later Viacom, Inc.), the cable television channel originally shows music videos and concerts during its round the clock broadcasts (VJ segments are pre-taped). The concept for the channel is created by Bob Pittman, who later becomes president and CEO of MTV Networks. The original MTV VJ’s are J.J. Jackson, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, Nina Blackwood, and Martha Quinn (Jackson, Hunter, and Blackwood leave in 1986, Goodman in 1987 and Quinn in 1991). The first music video aired on the channel  is the clip for The Buggles’ 1979 single “Video Killed The Radio Star”, making a symbolic and prophetic statement on how the visual aspect of music will impact it in the future. The network revolutionizes the way music is marketed and promoted to a mass audience, forever changing the music industry. In the months and years that follow, MTV spawns numerous competitors and imitators including Video Jukebox, Night Tracks (on SuperStation WTBS out of Atlanta), Friday Night Videos (on NBC), ABC Rocks, Cable Music Channel, and D-TV (on the Disney Channel). Later in the decade and the early 90’s, the channel breaks new ground with the introduction of shows like “Yo! MTV Raps”, “Headbanger’s Ball”, “120 Minutes” and “MTV Unplugged”, impacting the rise of Hip Hop, Metal and Alternative Rock into mainstream popularity. By the mid 90’s, with the shifting tides in musical tastes and trends, MTV begins to significantly reduce the number of hours per day that music videos are played, in favor of other programming created for the channel including reality shows like “The Real World”, “The Osbournes, “Jersey Shore” and various game shows, comedy programs and animated programs. Happy 37th Anniversary, MTV!!!

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