What is a Sony Video 45?

by Jeff Harris

Since its debut in 1981, MTV had taken the idea of broadcasting music videos 24 hours a day and turned it into a national phenomenon that captured the American television audiences’ imagination. Not only did it give musicians a new way to creatively and artistically express themselves, but it also gave record labels another venue other than the traditional method of radio to promote and create awareness for new music.

In the Spring of 1983, The Sony Corporation in collaboration with a handful of major record labels, made an effort to capitalize on the enormous popularity of music videos by offering them for commercial sale, as well as to discourage people from taping their favorite videos off TV. Sony Video 45’s offered a high quality alternative and were originally released on VHS or Beta (remember those?) video cassettes (some titles were even issued on 8-inch laserdiscs) with stereo sound, and usually contained anywhere from 2 to 4 music videos of a particular artist. Each title had a running time of usually 15 to 20 minutes and retailed for $19.95 and under.

Artists who released Sony Video 45’s included Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, Missing Persons, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, The Motels, Thomas Dolby, David Bowie, Iron Maiden, The Scorpions, Berlin, Mike Nesmith, Todd Rundgren, Utopia, etc. Though the majority of the titles released were by rock and pop artists, there were a handful of titles released by jazz artists including Dizzy Gillespie and Stanley Jordan.

Many of these titles sold quite well, and the Duran Duran release which contained the videos for “Hungry Like The Wolf” and “Girls On Film” won the group the very first Grammy Award given for Best Video, Short Form in 1984.

By 1987 with sales declining, Sony quietly discontinued manufacturing Video 45’s in favor of full length music video releases, which the public saw as a better value for the money. However during it’s brief time in existance, the Sony Video 45 made an impact and many of the titles have become rare and sought after collector’s items by fans of 80’s pop culture.


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