Whether you love it or hate it, MTV has made significant impacts on both music and music video. So how did MTV choose to start off this fledgling cable channel? When it raised it's head in the early 80's, there would have been some discussion over which music video should mark the music channel's debute. However, any argument would probably have been short-lived, as the final choice is one that few people would find hard to beat.
MTV started in the US and then various other localised versions started to appear around the world (so technically the answer may be different for each network, but this is a question of the first ever song played). If you thought it was Dire Straits, then you will need to guess again.
"Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits was inspired well after MTV's launch when Mark Knopfler apparently overheard a conversation in an electronics store. The salesman was complaining about how tough life was selling TVs - he was reported to have said words to the effect of "that's the way you do it. You get your money for nothing and your chicks for free." The original comment was probably a little more hard core, but it is unlikely that many radio or video stations would have played a song "get you f***ing money for nothing and your f***ing chicks for f***ing free". In the 90s, it probably would not have been a problem. However, when MTV Europe launched, it did play Money For Nothin as its first song.
Despite being a few years old at the time, Video Killed The Radio Star, by the Buggles, was the first song ever played by MTV. The irony of this choice escaped few people, but rather than kill radio, MTV and other music channels have helped boost its popularity while increasing music sales and developing a new form of entertainment. Unfortunately, it also made producing music far more expensive - culminating in the very bland bland music of recent years. It is also interesting that one the of biggest criticisms levelled at MTV now is that it doesn't play enough music video and it has become more of a mainstream music lifestyle channel. From most reports this is occuring with all the MTV networks. http://www.eightyeightynine.com/musi...firstsong.html