Chapter 7:Much Music, Mega-Stars, and Mega-events: Rock in the 80’s
The Early 1980’s: Record Recession
1979 saw an 11 per cent drop in annual record sales across North America the first major
recession in the industry in 30 years. Record companies were trimming staff, cutting back
expenses, signing fewer new acts, and raised the prices of LP’s and cassette tapes.
Recovery was due to a few recordings by superstar musicians like Michael Jackson,
Madonna, Bryan Adams, Prince, Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, and Janet
Competition of new forms of entertainment arose with home video, cable television,
video games, decline of disco, and illegal copying (pirating) of commercial recordings by
consumers with cassette tape decks. In 1984, sales of pre-recorded cassettes, boosted by
popularity of Sony Walkman and boom boxes, surpassed those of vinyl discs for first
time in history. The development of digital sound recording led to the introduction of the
five inch CD, and because these CD’s were done by laser beam vs. diamond needle, they
were not subject to wear and tear like cassettes. Raised prices from $8 to $9 to 13 because
of the high demand for these CD’s. Also saw the rise in digital technology for producing
and manipulating sounds like the drum machines, sequencers, samplers, MIDI (musical
instrument digital interface). With the expansion of the personal compute, we saw a
growth in hip hop and techno which used samples, loops, and grooves.
broadcasting of live concerts
Sudden Rise of Music Videos, MTV
Launch of MTV
First song broadcast on MTV bore title “Video Killed the RadioStar”. Also sparked a
second British Invasion with groups like Eurythmics, Flock of Seagulls, Adam Ant, Billy
Idol. Out of 750 videos shown on MTV, maybe 20 contained black artists which was
weird with Michael Jackson and Rick James making multi platinum albums. MTV argued
the fact that it focused on rock and that is why they didn’t make it into heavy rotation.
1982, Micheal Jackson’s album Thriller had mammoth success and promoted new
standards for production quality, creativity, and cost. Out of the song thriller, MJ made a
60 minute home video with the original 15 minute video and lots of filler material,
including interviews. It sold 350,000 copies in firxt six months, yet MTV still did not
play them. Columbia records threatened the withdrawl of their white rock groups if MJ
wasn’t put in and finally was.
Music TV in Canada
Started in 1984, by Moses Znaimer, became a part of basic Canadian cable in 1989.
Zaimer also established MusiquePlus, which was a francophone version of MuchMusic
became part of Quebec basic cable in 1988. MuchMusic started with a Top 40 format,
and then had DJ’s that would introduce videos from week to week in a heavy, medium,
and light rotation. They added weekly shows that focused on specific genres likle
francophone (French kiss), rap (rap city), novelty (fromage), indie (The Wedge) and etc.