The networks' owner, Viacom, and the headphones company Monster DNA are teaming up to promote "Music Independence Day," during which indie musicians will be featured on TV and the two companies will match online donations that viewers make to unsigned artists on a Web destination called the Artist Platform.
"Hopefully that tip will allow them a start in their career," said Jeannie Scalzo, svp of brand sales for MTV, VH1 and CMT.
Viacom and Monster DNA are pledging $100,000 in all to unsigned artists, with each act able to receive up to $500. "We want to include as many artists as we can," Scalzo said. "Spreading the wealth is the best way to make this successful for everybody."
Each network will have a different focus—and feature different artists, independent and otherwise—throughout the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. programming block. For MTV, the theme is block parties; for CMT, it's barbecue. In addition to the unsigned groups, viewers can expect to see the likes of Ke$ha, The Lumineers and Hanson, to name a few.
The focus on music represents a return to the networks' roots, said Scalzo. In fact, she claimed advertisers have been asking for opportunities to line up their brands with music.
While July 4 is a fine holiday to pin a promotion to, it's perhaps not the best time to encourage viewers to plop down in front of the TV. (Grilling and swimming, for instance, are activities best enjoyed outdoors.)
"We had to find an opportunity where the theme would be right," explained Scalzo, adding that music will inevitably be a part of Independence Day celebrations.
"Our biggest goal for the day is to connect fans with the artists they love," she said.