In 1976, Michael Nesmith released a single called "Rio" and to promote it, he put together a stylish video clip. It wasn't the first music video, but it grabbed lots of attention for its surrealistic imagery and engaging wit. Soon, Nesmith discovered people were more interested in the video than in the single itself.
While on a concert tour of Australia that same year, he couldn't help noticing the popularity of some TV shows that aired music video clips such as "Rio," and he got an idea:
Why not start a similar show in the United States?
He packaged several clips together into a promotional tape for a show he called "Popclips" and went to various syndicators, none of whom, he says, showed much interest in the idea.
The Nickleodeon cable channel, however, picked up the show and subsequently officials at Nickleodeon's parent company, Warner-Amex, used "Popclips" as one of a small handful of models when they sat down to create MTV, according to Robert Pittman, former president and chief executive officer of MTV Networks.