About The Archive

About The Archive

Let’s get meta. This page of The 120 Minutes Archive is about the archive itself: our most frequently asked questions (the basics and next steps), the press that we’ve received, and how you can reach out and contact us.

August 1, 2017

The basics

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. This is your introductory crash course to The 120 Minutes Archive, how we got here, and how you can help out.

I’m new here. What’s this all about?

The dream of the ’90s is alive… here! The legacy of MTV’s 120 Minutes deserves a home, and we’re proud to be it—this is like a permanent MTV exhibit. Starting from our home page, you can browse 27 years of playlists from 120 Minutes and its one-time successor, Subterranean. Each listing in the index shows you the guest or host of that episode. Select the date to see the playlist, and then select a video to watch it on YouTube. You can also search for the name of an artist or music video to see everywhere it appears in the archive. There’s a lot here—you can get lost for days. We’ll see you when you resurface.

Does MTV have anything to do with this?

No, we are not MTV. This project was not MTV’s idea, they don’t run or control it, and they don’t support us. However, we’ve had informal relationships with a few personalities and executives at MTV over the years—in some cases we advised them, in others they advised us—and staff at MTV have used this archive to help find and reference the original tapes within their internal video library.

How did the archive get started?

This project got underway in 2003 as The unofficial 120 Minutes site, when the show was still airing on MTV2 and our raison d’être was to post the playlist each week because MTV didn’t. After 120 Minutes was cancelled, we morphed into MTV2 Subterranean: The unofficial site and put out a call to visitors to help us build those playlists backwards and preserve the entire legacy of 120 Minutes. From 2004 to 2008, we were altmusictv, as our scope widened a bit to cover the past and present of “alternative” music television. In 2008, we settled into our current form, The 120 Minutes Archive, including a stint covering and archiving the show’s brief revival from 2011 to 2013. We’ve been filling in the remaining gaps since then. For more on the show’s history, see About 120 Minutes.

Who all has contributed to the archive?

Literally hundreds of people—they’ve all volunteered their free time to break out their VHS tapes (and a VCR to play them), write down the episode playlists, and send them to us. We’ve credited all our contributors throughout the pages of the archive—look for the “source for this playlist” at the top of each episode. These names include enthusiasts, casual fans of the show who happened to find a box of tapes at their parents’ house, and VJs who hosted the show.

How do I add or edit episode playlists?

The archive is curated manually; there’s no public editing feature like a wiki. So, if you have any playlists you’d like to contribute for episodes that aren’t yet listed in the archive, or to make any corrections to existing playlists, contact us. If your playlist is incomplete or the air date is uncertain, that’s OK—just give us as much as you can. We’ll take anything from the MTV U.S. version of 120 Minutes.

When will my contributions be published?

Since the archive is an all-volunteer effort, there’s no real rhyme or reason to the posting of updates. We’ll usually post them in batches. If it seems like it’s been a long time and you still don’t see the update you sent us, rest assured we’ve got it and it’ll be published, even if we can’t tell you exactly when.

This whole thing is a bit much, isn’t it?

Yes and no. It’s definitely exhaustive, but that’s its charm. If this were the work of one mind, it’d be insane, but this is the result of a collective, accidentally massive effort. People care about the history of this music and culture. 120 Minutes came to represent the age of everything “alternative”—it helped form the identity of a pivotal generation, and the nostalgia for that time is real. Those who are younger than the era itself can also find classic artists in the archive to watch for the first time. This project lets people connect with that unique formative experience and discover all kinds of music that nobody else is talking about anymore.

So, what can I do to support the archive?

We’re a fully independent website—we’re not-for-profit, and we have no ads. We rely on donations to stay online. Help us keep “alternative” alive forever—donate to The 120 Minutes Archive now and help this project live on. Your donation will be processed securely by PayPal—you can use any debit or credit card, you don’t pay any fees, and you don’t need to sign up for an account.

And who are you, anyway?

I’m Tyler, a designer, developer, and writer. I’ve been running this project and keeping it going since 2003 because I care about how much it means to all of you who have reached out to me over the years. For my occasional writing on music, TV, media, tech, politics, and culture, head over to tylerc.com. For daily links and updates, follow me on Twitter @tylerc.

Next steps

We can’t be everything to everyone. In this section, we outline a few things that we don’t do here and point you to where you can go for those things.

Wait, where are the clips from the show?

It’d be a dream to upload the full episodes of 120 Minutes and host them here, but unfortunately, it’d also be a death wish for this independent project of ours. Aside from the 2003 series finale video, we don’t host any clips from the show here at the archive. For live performances, artist interviews, in-studio segments, and full episodes, your best bet is to search YouTube for 120 Minutes. There’s a treasure trove on there at any given time, but the clips tend to come and go as people change accounts and YouTube takes down videos.

Why are some of the video links incorrect?

Music videos move locations over time as their copyright holders change, so we rely on the algorithm gods at Google to serve up the correct video for you when you click on video links throughout the archive. 99% of the time they get it right, but occasionally they don’t, and rarely a video isn’t on the web at all.

Are there YouTube or Spotify playlists?

The goal of the archive is to be evergreen. If we were to create episode playlists on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Music, they would deteriorate over time as songs move around on those services. The best way to accomplish this is to take it into your own hands: use the static playlists we have here to identify an episode you love, then create and share your own streaming playlist from it.

What about other MTV shows or versions?

We only have the capability to cover the original U.S. version of 120 Minutes and Subterranean in this archive. We would love to see other people create archives of the UK version, the MTV Classic version, or other historic MTV shows, like Yo! MTV Raps and Headbangers Ball—maybe you could be that hero. For complete archives of Total Request Live, visit our friends at The TRL Archive.

Do you sell or trade any recordings?

We don’t have any VHS tapes, DVDs, or digital recordings of 120 Minutes. All of our playlists come from volunteer contributors who transcribed their own tapes, and for their privacy, we can’t hook you up with them. If you have recordings, we encourage you to digitize them and share them with the world on YouTube.

Can you identify this video I’m thinking of?

While we wish we could help you remember the name of that music video you once saw on 120 Minutes, we can’t. You know who can, though? The internet’s hive mind. There are communities set up at Reddit and MetaFilter just for this purpose. Try posting on one of them—best of luck.

Press

When we tell you this is “the independent, critically acclaimed, definitive library of music video nostalgia”, we mean it. Here’s some of the press we’ve received.

BuzzFeed — Julie Gerstein, Senior Lifestyle Editor“A brave, crazy genius and a team of volunteers dug through hundreds of hours of tape to create this archive. Take a perusal and try not to lose the next ten hours of your life. It will throw you into a nostalgia k-hole.”The New York Times — Jon Caramanica, Television Critic“The site devoted to the first run of the show that thrived by exploiting the large window of obscurity between new bands’ first songs and their wide embrace—if they ever got there.”NPR — Sarah Handel, Producer and Senior Editor“Something amazing now exists: The 120 Minutes Archive. It’s an absolute treasure. Click over—but only if you’ve got some significant time to spend. I know I could spend all day going through it.”MTV — Brett Smiley, Staff Writer“Thanks to the gigantic 120 Minutes Archive, you’ll enjoy information about the show that you probably didn’t know or may have forgotten.”HuffPost — Michael Calderone, Senior Media Reporter“For all those who recall taping episodes of 120 Minutes, the seminal late-night show that introduced a generation of moody teens to the Pixies.”The A.V. Club — Rob Dean, “Great Job, Internet!”“Luckily, this being the internet, there is work being done to preserve this legacy, even when MTV veered away from playing music videos entirely. It’s interesting to see how the vibe changed with each new fad in music and how far the ‘alternative’ label could be stretched over 27 years.”Entertainment Weekly — Mike Bruno, “Site Of The Day”“Be careful: what started out as an innocent reminiscing on my former love of the Sugarcubes has turned into an hour-long marathon of clicking Sonic Youth, Cure, and Primus videos. Impressive, obsessive, and sure to remind you of a really bad haircut.”USA Today — Jayme Deerwester, Entertainment Reporter“If your favorite member of Generation X has had a hard time focusing on work, now you know why: it’s this lovingly catalogued compendium of MTV’s influential, wayward home for college and alternative music.”VICE — Editorial, Noisey“120 Minutes now has an iconic place in the hallowed halls of music history. Get stoned and relive your late-night TV watching youth.”Mental Floss — Chris Higgins, Pop Culture Writer“Imagine my joy when a new website began cataloging videos featured on 120 Minutes. The 120 Minutes Archive has entertained me for hours.”Paper Magazine — Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Editor“Any alternateen worth their ringer tees was obsessed with MTV’s weekly alt video show. So cancel your plans, say goodbye to the day: The 120 Minutes Archive is a wonderland.”MetaFilter — Charles V., Contributing Writer“This should be enough to crush you under a wave of nostalgia and longing for the days when MTV was what it says on the tin.”The Stranger — Mike Nipper, Music Editor“Even for all my thread-chasing, record-nerd pretense, I was quite shocked this exhaustive trove of alternative history exists. For even the casual music listener, The 120 Minutes Archive is worth a peek.”The Village Voice — Michael Tedder, Music Editor“MTV executives point to the extensive amount of 120 Minutes information on the web (here’s Exhibit A) as proof that there’s still interest in the show.”T-Mobile — Editorial, Electronic Beats“Meet your alternative heroes from the late ’80s to the early ’00s in this rare compilation of memories, which were so close to being lost forever.”iHeartRadio — Sara Sheltz, Staff Writer“Beware, because you might lose a little more than the next 120 minutes of your life browsing the archive. There’s so much to see.”

For press inquiries, to get in touch about a feature you’re currently working on, or to let us know about a feature you’ve published, email

Contact us

Before you contact us, please make sure that you’ve read the frequently asked questions above. There might be an answer for you already.

If you’d like to send me feedback about The 120 Minutes Archive, you can do so anytime on Twitter—just tweet @tylerc. Keep it constructive!

If you’d like to add or edit any episode playlists, email Please use this email address only to contribute content to the archive. Your contributions will become the property of tylerc.com and may be edited and/or published. By default, we’ll credit you by your first name—tell us if you prefer something else instead. Thank you so much for your work.

Disclaimer

The 120 Minutes Archive is a fully independent, non-commercial, and not-for-profit project of tylerc.com. This project is not owned or operated by MTV. Names, logos, and other trademarks are the intellectual property of their respective owners.

Back to top
The 120 Minutes Archive