From MTV to YouTube, from MJ to Taylor – Did the Internet Kill the Video Star?

Witnessing the rotting corpse of Taylor Swift climb her way out of a grave in the What You Made Me Do promo could lead one to believe that the music video has made little progress since the far more innovative Michael Jackson’s industry-transforming Thriller video in 1983.

The music world in which Swift’s zombies drag their way around, however, is light years away from the MTV-era dominated by Michael Jackson and his peers. MTV’s power has been on the decline for some time, as a result of social media and the internet at large. As opposed to falling by the wayside, however, the music video has grown and formed an inevitable partnership with the world wide web.

Taylor Swift” (CC BY 2.0) by Dvincleo

The video for What You Made Me Do is indeed in many ways reminiscent of Thriller, but it has something else going for it: it betrays the degree of change that has occurred since legendary director John Landis turned the Jackson song into a 14-minute featurette.


Thriller won three awards at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards in 1984. This year saw the VMAs (the common abbreviation of the awards show) continue the trend of declining viewing figures, with its lowest ever ratings.


How much longer MTV will commit to the VMAs is unclear. The channel itself, however, which began in 1981 as a vehicle for new music stars to promote their music, has already significantly cut down on its programming. Taking a different path, it has built on the success of early docu-soaps, such as The Osbournes and The Real World, and is now focusing its core programming on reality TV.

MTV Video Music Awards sign” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by j1myi

As such, the natural destination for Look What You Made Me Do is on the web. Rather than being seen as a downgrade for MTV’s indifference, the power of such platforms as YouTube create more exposure than its cable TV playlisting ever could.

While MTV was responsible for introducing the early work of such auteurs as Jonathan Glazer, Chris Cunningham, Mark Romance, Anton Corbijn, Michael Gondry, Spike Jonze, and David Fincher, that responsibility now lies in the hands of YouTube, along with other such sites as Vimeo, to provide a space for new talent wishing to push the boundaries of the music video.

The internet has had a remarkable impact upon numerous industries and continues to change the shape of commerce and how consumers interact with their daily lives. While music fans used to have to stay home to watch music entertainment, they can now view their favorite music videos on-demand through their mobile device.

The same can be said for the television industry as a whole, with the likes of Netflix and Amazon now often favoured over live or scheduled viewing. Many of the broadcast shows are available to watch online and have created a culture of binge-watching, with audiences unable to get enough of their favorite shows.

Other forms of entertainment, such as gaming, have also found a home online. Now, iGamers can visit a site such as and choose from a number of online casinos, featuring some of the best bonuses in Canada. Many of the offers are exclusive to that particular website and offer multiple means of payment, so bitcoin players and cash players alike can enjoy playing a whole host of casino games. Bitcoin, an increasingly popular currency, can also be used to make purchases in a number of music stores in Canada.

The shift from the MTV playlist means that producers are no longer obliged to create content simply to meet demand, but are now able to produce videos for their followers. This has resulted in some innovative work serving very specific markets, such as the recent Arca videos and their exploration of male vulnerabilit