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Where’s the Music? MTV at 30

For those of us old enough to remember the first broadcast, it’s hard to believe MTV turned 30 years old today.

The channel is like a kid in a comic strip: it never ages, and as one gets older, its appeal fades. Most people from Generation X say they cannot not even sit though a whole episode of it’s number one runaway hit “Jersey Shore.” It doesn’t matter. Like the artist it made famous, Madonna, it is a cultural chameleon, changing itself all the time to attract that top demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds. Mashable says the channel ushered in an a new vehicle for spreading the word about new music.

“Almost overnight, the music video became one of the most important promotional and marketing vehicles for the music industry,” the site says. Others say it has not lost its edge or its brand, by continuing to offend older folks (Jackass, for example).

The question is always there: What does MTV do for music any more? Although it has its tentacles in every aspect of teen pop culture, like movies, celebrity gossip, and blogs, surprisingly the cable network isn’t all fake tans and tattoos.

The top artists on its website today are 30 Seconds to Mars, Justin Beiber, and Paramore. The music site has MP3 downloads, lyric charts (top lyrics today are “E.T.” by Katy Perry), music videos, tour news, free radio stations, photos of musicians, and it still puts on its annual music video showcase, the Video Music Awards.

So there is still music on MTV. You just have to wade through many episodes of 16 and Pregnant to find it.

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