“For many of us, MTV was education. Inspiration. For some, it was salvation. It was a spark in the humdrum.“
It all began as a tiny startup cable channel with massive dreams. In its first year, it lost $50 million. But it survived. Today, when we think “MTV,” we honor it as a revolution. People marveled at the television back in the 80s. Around-the-clock news. Movies. Even home shopping. But music videos? They were a risk. A risk that paid off, but it wasn’t easy. This risk taught us about entertainment and groundbreaking artists, though. For many of us, MTV was education. Inspiration. For some, it was salvation. It was a spark in the humdrum.
The powers that be rejected the MTV pitch initially. Radio with pictures? No way.But the rebels with a vision pressed on. Finally, with the go-ahead, MTV had 7 months to get their shit together and air. Thankfully, time itself couldn’t slow down what would become a timeless entity dedicated to sharing and shaping those daring generations that still hold the future. Record labels were skeptical, too. They didn’t want to foot the bill for expensive videos. MTV lacked content when it began. It was a 24-hour music channel. It needed the record industry’s help. Badly. But the masterminds pulled what they could. The idea was nothing without actual music combined with provocative visuals. They made it happen.
After Mick Jagger agreed to a $1 spokesperson deal, the whole shebang took flight. In fact, all the Rolling Stones got behind the effort. With that kind of backing, labels got to work. MTV introduced Michael Jackson and Prince to the nation, rattling small towns everywhere. Madonna. Whitney Houston. The culture, our freedom in identity – we wouldn’t be the same without these monumental forces. This year, we applauded Latin artists and even Marc Jacobs for his efforts in music video fashion design. MTV has instilled in us a love for the world, for unstoppable creativity, and for the unexpected. It’s been a movement. It continues to move.
“The channel gave us reality television decades ago with The Real World. So much of who we are now finds its roots in the rich history of this tiny startup that was told no, no, and no.”
The channel gave us reality television decades ago with The Real World. So much of who we are now finds its roots in the rich history of this tiny startup that was told no, no, and no. It’s difficult to transcend “fad” status. But MTV has done it. It aired its 36th VMA ceremony on August 26, 2019. COUP was actually a part of it, crafting 100 unique MTV VMA bottles of champagne. Performers and honorees were each gifted these. And we gave a lucky winner – hailing from Oklahoma City – a commemorative bottle, too.
Missy Elliot was celebrated for her extraordinary contributions to the channel and music itself last Monday. She took us on a journey through the years. She reminded us of MTV then and now. Her performance and speech issued a symbol that COUP didn’t miss. What a gift Elliot has been. Her music, dance, and overall vision were part of what brought us to a cliff. Overlooking freedom. Expression. She was a piece of the revolution that gave us the courage to leap from an edge with abandon.
What is “culture,” if it’s not such a leap? COUP Culture looks to re-write the rules. We call out to the musicians, of course. But like MTV, we recognize creation and artistry beyond voice and sound. We salute the vanguard against the ordinary. Those who shatter expectations and let innovation flow. We recognize you. In the moment. Being everything you want to be. Being everything they say you shouldn’t be. Never letting “no” be the final word.
Yep, we’ll have a glass of that action all day, every day.