There used to be a time when MTV was all about TRL rather than GTL (gym, tan, laundry). It was these days when more video premieres flooded the network than reality show dramas.
Since its launch in 1981, MTV has evolved into a pop culture phenomenon as it transitioned from daily video countdowns to reality programs like “The Real World.” Through the transition, it appeared that MTV had lost a sense of what started it all as reality shows became a key part of the daily schedule, overtaking the amount of music shown.
My fondest memory of MTV when I first started watching was “Total Request Live.” The show, hosted by Carson Daly, hit the air in 1998, and featured the top videos of the day and often had popular artists stop by the studio for live performances and interviews.
Everyone from ‘N Sync and Britney Spears to Green Day and Blink-182 made an appearance on the show, which aired live from Times Square. Sadly, the show was cancelled in 2008.
As an avid MTV viewer for more than a decade, I feel like the network is still strong for music despite being flooded with reality entertainment.
I constantly find new music to listen to based on songs that are played on “The Real World” or “Jersey Shore.”
One thing most viewers may not know is that reality shows have been on MTV for far longer than they think.
“The Real World,” MTV’s longest running reality show, first aired in 1992. Since then it has become home to “Jersey Shore,” “The Hills,” “Jackass,” “Teen Mom” and more.
While MTV has branded itself with images of reality stars such as Snooki, Speidi, Tila Tequila and Paris Hilton, I feel like the station never lost its true musical identity.
In 1984, MTV introduced the moonman statue as they kicked off the annual Video Music Awards. Winners are chosen based off viewer votes in numerous categories such as video of the year and best new artists.
The 2011 VMAs netted roughly 12.4 million viewers, the highest ratings for the yearly awards show, according to Billboard. This year Billboard reported the 2012 award show only brought in 6.1 million viewers.
I still see MTV as a place to discover new artists as they often feature an artist of the week during the closing credits of their many reality shows. The music aspect is still there.
MTV also provides fans another resource to find new music through other networks: MTV2, mtvU, Tr3s, MTV Hits and MTV Jams. There is also a great online community where video premieres, music news, interviews and live performances can be streamed.
Many reality shows are facing their final seasons this year — “Teen Mom” wrapped in August and “Jersey Shore” has a few episodes to go. “Jersey Shore” has had a decline in ratings since the season four finale Oct. 20, 2011, with only 6.6 million viewers compared to 7.6 million viewers for the season three finale, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Perhaps music fans will get their music videos back in those time slots, but viewers should know that MTV wouldn’t keep bringing back GTL for the past few years if fans didn’t tune in for it every Jersday Thursday.
MTV is still a place that houses music, it’s just not solely located in a video countdown anymore.
Instead, new MTV music discoveries can be found in the PUSH Artist Of The Week feature and tracks featured on reality shows.
Plus, MTV is still a good music outlet for night owls and early birds as they often air a block of videos during 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. on AMTV.
For all you music fans and lovers out there, don’t give up on MTV just yet. And if you already have, why not give it another chance? It may be a little harder to find new music on the network, but it is still out there. You never know, you may just find your next favorite artist or band the next time you’re waiting for your next dose of reality television.
Timeline and story by Michele Bird