Video: MTV Faces a Mid-Life Crisis

The first music-video channel is trying to recapture the heat

New art forms do not usually emerge with such neat birth dates, but consider Aug. 1, 1981. On that day a cable channel called MTV made its debut, offering a round-the-clock barrage of music videos -- short films set to rock songs and produced by record companies to promote their performers. These imaginative, visually arresting clips soon caught on; rock music was suddenly something to look at, not just listen to. Such performers as Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper rode to success on them; top Hollywood directors, including John Landis and Brian De Palma, tried their hand at making them. The...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!