Hey, MTV, I Still Want My Music Television

MTV has redesigned its logo.  The change is slight but very significant - the words "Music Television" are no longer there.  Read the Advertising Age article for all the details.  Is this MTV's final step away from its music video roots? 

I am one of those guys who became frustrated with the network over the years for venturing into too many non-music programs.  The Real World had nothing to do with music, for example.  It was a trendsetting show, but did it really belong on MTV?  Now that the iconic network is officially dropping "Music Television" from its logo (and I'm assuming from all other collateral associated with its brand identity) does that open the door for more shows like Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant, and The Hills? Does that mean the few music-oriented programs left on MTV now face an even greater threat of extinction?  Will the MTV Video Music Awards have even less relevance if the network completely abandons airing music videos and completely distances itself from its music roots?  Who would have thought that I would miss Carson Daly's Total Request Live (or TRL as it eventually became known, as it strayed away from music videos and became more about live studio guest interviews and screaming tweens outside on Times Square).

The music video is an interesting creative medium.  Many people have derided videos for making performing artists focus more on visual style than musical talent.  But some videos are truly works of art and great forms of artistic expression, and I hate to see them become even more marginalized.  With the popularity of video iPods, YouTube, and smartphones, I would think that music videos should be more popular today than ever before.  So it surprises me that MTV has strayed so far from its origins.  Gone are the video DJs.  Gone are the hours and hours of music video countdowns.

MTV has transformed itself into a broader, more mainstream channel that is more about youth culture than about music, which I suppose makes sense for them from a business perspective as they attempt to expand their reach beyond just what they consider to be a niche marketplace.  But MTV was always pretty mainstream in my opinion.  Just like when the Sci-Fi Network changed its name to Syfy, I think MTV's abandonment of its music identity is a big mistake. 

If MTV does not really stand for Music Television anymore, what does it stand for ideologically?  Reality television?  Spring break and summer vacation?  Pop culture?  Celebrities and general entertainment? Fashion, style, and consumer spending? Now they're trying to sell their audience everything, instead of just the music albums they were hyping back when they first began.  I can't blame them for that, but trying to be everything for everybody makes them just one of many other cable/satellite networks.  What's so special about MTV anymore?

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