Once a film wraps and shooting and editing is complete, there’s still one essential step left in the filmmaking and in many ways, music videos have come full circle. Originally a tool for music marketing and music promotion, how have music videos evolved over the years? With the onset of YouTube, the explosion of social media and the resulting globalisation, what ways did the industry adapt? How has the internet changed music videos?

Origins of music videos

The music video industry can be divided into the ‘Pre-MTV’ and ‘Post-MTV’ periods. In the 60s and 70s, music videos replaced the need for bands to travel from city to city playing live shows to promote their new music. It also served to promote ticket sales for the live shows themselves.

When MTV hit our screens in the early 1980s, music videos started to evolve into something a bit different. Singers became performers and entertainers. Synchronized one-dimensional dancing videos turned into high-production-value short movies. Immersive audio and video experience are what artists started to offer through music videos to their listeners. The video was about the visual representation of the music. 

“My idea was to make this short film with conversation … I like having a beginning and a middle and an ending, which would follow a story”

Michael Jackson

In the 1980s and the 1990s, the revenue generated from the sale of albums and concert tickets was the primary source of income for music creators and producers. But the music programming industry witnessed a dip in sales during the early 90s. MTV shifted its focus from music shows to reality shows and thus ended the golden period of the 24-hour music channel.

Rise of Youtube

Things changed in 2005 when the American video-sharing website YouTube made its debut. For a while, the quality of the music video itself was still driving and determining the level of engagement, viral effect and rising number of views. Less concerned with the artistic nature of a video, but more the ‘stickiness’ of its content – similar in many ways to pop music. Catchy dance routines and humorous concepts helped to drive popularity.

We’ve reached a time when anybody can create and upload a video, viewers are becoming used to a certain level of ‘YouTube quality’. The visuals are once again less important – the music video is being used primarily for music promotion and fanbase engagement. 

Impact of the digital age

The world of branding and advertising seeped into music videos. And it helped music producers to generate an alternate source of revenue. Brands also immensely benefited from it as they realized the reach of music artists and their videos. With more brands and artists maximizing revenue on their videos, new technology in video making is taking over.

The next curve of growth in the music video industry life cycle became visible in the last five years due to the advent of social media and technology. The moulds of conventional collaboration between an artist and a brand are getting broken every day. And what’s growing in its place is an environment that thrives on creativity, smart use of technology, commentary on culture and rich visual language.

Brand placement

A decade ago it would have been impossible to imagine that a tech product can be advertised by showing the ‘experience’ and not necessarily the product. But GoPro did it by creating a 360-degree music video and promoting it via a hugely popular music performer The Weeknd. Earlier, the music and the artists were at the centre stage and product placement was secondary and seamless. The problem starts when brands are not seamlessly infused or have no place within the story and therefore, stick out like a sore thumb.

Emphasis should be placed on inserting brands into videos only where relevant. And it can only happen when performers value their brand more than the endorsements. Technology allows experimenting, getting creative and creating an interactive experience; so there’s no room for lazy storytelling. The focus should be on understanding partnerships, endorsements, and placements. 


The world moves much faster today than it did at the dawn of the music industry. Technology has been instrumental in that evolution. No one would dispute the fact that the Internet has changed the music industry into being almost unrecognizable from the industry of the past.

Are you in need of a music video? Contact us at info@kobalproduction.com and we’ll tell you more about our approach.