It's hard to imagine a world without music videos, but the medium was not a significant part of the music industry until Music Television (MTV) launched in 1981. Launched as an all-music channel, music videos were the staple of MTV's early programming.
So, what are music videos? They are short films set to the music of an artist. Some music videos show a band performing the song that is the subject of the video. Some music videos try to tell the story of the song, giving a visual representation of the lyrics. Some music videos do none of the above.
In addition to MTV, VH-1 also became a channel that played music videos although as the 1990s wore on, both video mainstays were devoting less time each day to playing music videos. With the dwindling airplay over common cable channels, music videos have declined somewhat in popularity but continue to be made and can even be purchased at iTunes Music Store.