15 Ludicrously Expensive Music Videos
When music videos came along, they changed everything in the entertainment industry. Record companies spent huge amounts of money making promotional films for their releases, and TV stations would play them for free. The TV stations got content, the labels got to play four-minute ads endlessly, and everyone was a winner. New stations popped up broadcasting nothing but music videos — it all somehow worked for a while, boosting physical sales of albums and singles while costing the TV channels nothing.
It was an incredible time. Beavis and Butt-Head documents this era for millions of people perfectly — sitting on the couch in front of MTV for 12-hour stretches seemed like a perfectly legitimate way of spending a beautiful sunny day.
Eventually, of course, the wheels fell off it — the internet affected music sales, the spread of cable channels meant a fragmented audience that they couldn’t charge as much to advertise to and the relative monoculture that meant certain acts could guarantee to sell millions of records on day one, which easily justify spending movie-budget amounts of money on promotion, came to an end.
Then there was YouTube, of course, and big labels with big acts could still pump whopping amounts of money into videos, but at the same time, improved special effects and digital technology meant a few thousand dollars worth of equipment could lead to the same kind of results that would once have required completely absurd setups.