All Access: YouTube, the History of the Music Video, and Its Contemporary Renaissance Open Access

Smith, Brian Adam (2014)

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This dissertation traces the history and evolution of what is currently referred to as the music video. Thanks to YouTube, The Prelinger Archives, fans, users, academics, hobbyist historians, and archivists, this history is now coming to light; it is currently being digitized and increasingly available to a global audience since 2006. The art form is often mistakenly thought to begin with The Beatles or MTV, but predecessors to the music video begin with musical shorts in the early 20th century. Through the 1940's, several soundies were produced in America, which were also staged musical representations. Their momentum is carried on through various performances on variety television shows, generally from the 1950's through the 1970's. By the 1970's, enough music videos were being produced to conceive of a channel like MTV, followed by VH1, CMT, and others. And in the 21st century, the advent of YouTube has provided a platform for the new music video renaissance as well as a platform for digitizing, archiving, and viewing early predecessors to the music video. Situated primarily in an American context, the many histories that comprise the music video are outlined and analyzed, offering a new vantage point in the history of American music.

Table of Contents


The History of the Music Video in Perception, Production, and Pedagogy

Chapter 1:

YouTube, the Music Industry, and the 21st Century Video Boom

Chapter 2:

Musical Shorts, Soundies, and the Origins of the Music Video

Chapter 3:

Music on Television: Evolutions After Soundies from the 1950's to the 1970's

Chapter 4:

Music Videos and Music Television: the Power of Exposure


The Many Histories of the Future

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