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C O U R S E 
History of Rock, 1970-Present
John Covach, University of Rochester
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Michael Jackson: MTV's Unexpected Boon
Notes taken on March 18, 2016 by Edward Tanguay
initiial audience of MTV
they determined at the beginning that their audience would be mostly middle-class, mid-western, white kids
they understood the demographic that was available to them
think of the movie Wayne's World (1992)
this gives you a good idea of what the early cable TV audience was
lots of mainstream rock with emphasis on the aggressive guitar base kinds of groups
almost no black music of any kind
not too much music that challenged traditional male values
mostly groups like Foreigner, The Cars, or Boston
Michael Jackson makes video Billie Jean
MTV did not want to play this video
they argued that their demographic would not be interested in music by Michael Jackson or in most black artists
to a certain extent there was a basis in fact for this
the division in the 70s between white pop and black rock was quite distinct
they were basing this information on market trends
Walter Yetnikoff from CBS
wanted Billie Jean on MTV, was promoting Michael Jackson
he knew Michael was a fantastic and engaging dancer
Walter said, "If you don't play this video my Michael Jackson, I will pull every video by everyone one of my artists"
CBS was a big label and MTV needed videos
first aired on MTV, March 10, 1983
it became such a popular video that people went out and got cable just so they could watch the video
the popularity of Michael Jackson brought the popularity of MTV up
you could hear him on the radio
but he was worth watching
pros and cons associated with the rise of MTV
opened up new approaches to music in a video
after they got past the first few years of artists simply people singing the songs on the video
told an integrated story
better than just hearing the music
a multimedia experience
images had always been important e.g. on album covers
having the videos available in that way makes your interpretation and understanding of the music too literal
without it being stated so literally and visually, it leaves the listener's imagination open to meaning in the music that is all there own, i.e. enables the listener to participate as an individual
when you have the video laid out for you, it shuts that creativity down
the artists are giving you authoritative images to accompany the music and whatever images you come up with in your head is somehow secondary
because these videos are visual, they tend to prefer people who are photogenic
music became too dependent on looks and image, not enough on the music
success became more dependent on how one looked instead of how one sounded