Throughout its more than three-decade history, MTV has gone from showcasing the latest and greatest meetings of pop music and short film to being a platform in which the stars of reality TV find new ways to behave badly–again and again.
The question has been asked repeatedly over the past few years, but after a somewhat lackluster Video Music Awards and the cancellation of the network’s most valuable property, “Jersey Shore”, we have to repeat it: is MTV still relevant? And where does the brand go from here?
With all the talk of Snooki and “Teen Mom”, it’s easy to forget that last year’s VMAs, starring Alicia Keys and a pregnant Beyonce, earned the highest ratings in MTV history. Still, an awards show that only involves six actual awards is very different from the VMAs we knew as kids. And the fact that the biggest moment of last night’s ceremony was a hug exchanged between Rihanna and Chris Brown reveals something about its relevance.
In a telling interview with Forbes, MTV’s executive vice president of music and talent Amy Doyle emphasizes the network’s continued focus on, well, music.
Doyle doesn’t intend to compete with YouTube, Spotify or Pandora, but rather to work collaboratively with platforms like these to more effectively utilize technologies that have made the present day “the best time ever to be a music fan.” Examples of new projects and products include Artists.MTV, where fans can go to discover new music and buy tickets and merchandise. MTV has also branched into the scripted TV drama with shows like “Teen Wolf” and “Awkward.”
While we can all agree that MTV is no longer the most important launching pad for upcoming pop stars (two of 2012’s biggest hits, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, hit big as viral videos before appearing on the network), MTV isn’t going anywhere–so it seems like the answer to our headlining question is “definitely.” But the form the network takes next may be anyone’s guess. Some argue that the present-day VMA phenomenon–and the network itself–is more about big personalities than actual songs, but hasn’t that always been the case?
PR pros and music fans: How have you noticed the MTV brand expanding? What do you think the network needs to do to stay relevant?