Believe it or not, music videos were a thing long before MTV debuted their 24-hour all-music video channel in 1981. Of course, there were promotional films of musicians, music sequences in movies, and television performances. But there was also the Scopitone, a juke box that played films of song performances, which flourished in the 1960s. One of the draws of the Scopitone videos were that they didn’t adhere to the family viewing standards of television. But it wasn’t the first visual jukebox. The linked article features a wonderful half hour of “Soundies,” which were music videos (actually film) produced to be played on a jukebox called a Panoram. Soundies were produced between 1941 and 1947, and provide us with an archive of music from black artists who had trouble getting their music distributed in record stores.
Amongst the stars of the Soundies are some familiar names; Louis Armstrong, Dorothy Dandridge, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, just to name a few. What’s more, the difference between Soundies and much of the music videos that came after them, is that unlike all modern music videos, the musicians were not lip-syncing to a pre-recorded tracks. This really was, albeit a very short-lived moment, the heyday for the live music video…
Read about music videos that preceded MTV (and watch plenty of clips) at Messy Nessy Chic.
(Screenshot via YouTube)