Since the launch of MTV in 1981, the music video has played a central role in music marketing. So much in fact, that even back then there was large cache of artists, ranging from Adam and the Ants, Duran Duran and Madonna, who owed a great portion of their commercial success to the rapid-fire editing and sexual nature of their videos. However, over the years, the music video has evolved.
In 1985, Dire Straits released the video for "Money for Nothing." Though the song went on to become an international hit; it’s quite likely that their pioneering use of computer animation in the video had more to do with its success than the actual song playing in the background. The same argument could be made about the music video for “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. What's interesting to me is that the novelty of these videos is reminiscent of the lengths that artists will go to today in order to ensure that the videos they upload to YouTube will go viral.
From Art Form To Viral Engine
As the tagline for the video on College Humor reads, “If OK Go broke up; I'd be more disappointed that they were no longer making music videos than I'd be that they were done making music.” This is not to decry to loss of the music video as an art-form either, because that’s not the point; especially since it was only an “art” for a very short period of time. The problem that I foresee though is the underlying aspect of too much marketing and not nearly enough music.