Using Music Videos to Tell Stories

Posted: February 6, 2013 in ETmooc, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

There’s all kinds of ways to tell stories. The music video has always been one of my favorites. Having the singer act out the lines from a song or the band members performing in unique situations, adds some punch or excitement to the music. These are common ways to spotlight the artists and showcase them for the fans. It worked pretty well on the #etmooc Lip Dub project too.

The music video actually has a very long history as a way to tell stories. Most might remember seeing their first video’s on MTV, which started up over 30 years ago, but according to “it may come as a surprise that the genre itself has a much longer timeline that stretches as far back as the late 19th century.


A Scopitone machine, one of several visual jukeboxes that played an early form of music videos. (Credit: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)

In their article titled “The Music Video, Before Music Television”  They state that “the oldest known film with music was made for the Kinetophone, a device developed by Thomas Edison’s lab that showed moving pictures and was also fitted out with a phonograph. In the film, its inventor, William Dickson, plays music from a popular operetta on a violin as two men dance beside him.

There are other interesting notes in the article including: “that Jiles Perry Richardson, who went by The Big Bopper, became the first person to use the phrase “music video” in a 1959 interview with a British magazine. (Richardson died that same year in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.) The “Chantilly Lace” singer is also credited with making some of the earliest known rock videos in 1958.”

Here’s the Big Bopper on American Bandstand in a music video like segment. Apparently no one cared that performances were lip synced back then.

The best known examples of early music videos though came from the Beatles. They used the emerging genre to tell a story in a film such as “Help” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” and recorded dozens of promotional clips, some with stories and others mostly just psychedelic images, that were broadcast in England and America.

I also remember watching “The Monkeys” television show which seemed to be one long music video stitched together by a few “Lucy” or”Scooby Doo” like situations that would introduce some kind of plot to the episode. In the end I believe the point of the show was really just to promote The Monkeys music and sell records.

When MTV came on the scene and played the Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star as their first video ever, my generation seemed ready to embrace the music video as the preferred form of entertainment.


I can remember going over to friends houses (since we didn’t have cable) to watch MTV for hours. The VH1 website has a nice article entitled MTV Memories: the first 30 videos ever played on MTV where they have many of those early videos from Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, and Reo Speedwagon available.

The popularity of MTV and VH1 might have died down, but the music video continues to live on through You Tube. Adding your own pictures to someone else’s song or performing a song on camera is still very popular type of video post. The music video may not be the best classiest way to tell a story. Take a look at this You Tube post entitled The 5 worst amateur videos.  It is though a fun, and easy way to communicate ideas, and it can be produced by just about anyone with a camera on their phone.

As video becomes a more predominate way of communicating in the digital age, I think more and more of us will use the music video to get our point across.

I was a video editor in another life and made these videos many years ago. I thought I would share them with you. The first was a just an editing sample demo I made when the company I worked with didn’t have many produced projects to show potential clients. The kid here is an adult now and I’m pretty sure he never became a rock and roll star.

This next one was for a young bunch of guys who responded to an ad I placed for a free music video. We had a lot of responses, but they were the most fun. I shot and edited everything here to use on my demo reel. See any similarities to The Monkeys ?  I hope you enjoy it!.

So thats my story about music videos. I’m still a fan and plan on devoting some more time to watching some good music videos on You Tube, (since I still don’t have cable).

Do you have any memories of music videos? Are they an authentic genre for telling stories? Let me know in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s