A music video is a short film or video that accompanies a complete piece of music, most commonly a song. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings. Although the origins of music videos go back much further, they came into their own in the 1980s, when MTV (Music Television)'s format was based around them.
Music videos are often called promo videos or simply promos, due to the fact that they are usually promotional devices. Sometimes, music videos are termed short-form music videos to distinguish them from full length movies pertaining to music. In the 1980s, the term "rock video" was often used to describe this form of entertainment, although the term has fallen into disuse.
Music videos can accommodate all styles of filmmaking, including animation, live action films, documentaries, and non-narrative, abstract film.
The key innovation in the development of the modern music video was, of course, video recording and editing processes, along with the development of a number of related effects such as chroma-key. The advent of high-quality colour videotape recorders and portable video cameras coincided with the DIY ethos of the New Wave era and this enabled many pop acts to produce promotional videos quickly and cheaply, in comparison to the relatively high costs of using film. However, as the genre developed music video directors increasingly turned to 35mm film as the preferred medium, while others mixed film and video. By the mid-1980s releasing a music video to accompany a new single had become standard, and acts like The Jacksons sought to gain a commercial edge by creating lavish music videos with million dollar budgets; most notable with the video for "Can You Feel It".
Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" also started a whole new era for using music videos as promos. The first music videos were produced by ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith who started making short musical films for Saturday Night Live in 1979. In 1981, he released Elephant Parts, the first video album and first winner of a Grammy for music video directed by William Dear. A further experiment on NBC television called Television Parts was not successful, due to network meddling (notably an intrusive laugh track and corny gags). The early self-produced music videos by Devo, including the pioneering compilation "The Truth About Devolution" directed by Chuck Statler, were also important (if somewhat subversive) developments in the evolution of the genre and these Devo video cassette releases were arguably among the first true long-form video productions. The USA Cable Network program Night Flight was one of the first American programs to showcase these videos as an art form. Premiering in June 1981, Night Flight predated MTV's launch by two months.