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Music television went from this huge cultural force to something that programmers don’t seem to have much confidence in.
All the people who are involved in Revolt, myself included, believe that there is absolutely an appetite for it if it's done properly. People didn’t think that there was necessarily an appetite for what ESPN provided when ESPN launched. People didn’t realize it was going to be what it is. Tom [Breihan] from Stereogum wrote some really nice things on Twitter after my goodbye post that brought up the idea that it’s “one of our own.” I get to take all of the lessons and the weird memes and in-jokes that we’ve all stitched together over the last 10 years of indie and blog culture. It’s one of us going into mainstream television, in millions of homes. I think that is sort of exciting.
How do you tap into the Internet’s unpredictability when you are creating a mass broadcast? You can’t control or anticipate what someone is going to throw out in a comments section.
We are aware of the clumsy manner with which social media has been integrated into TV to date. This idea that you are just going to start reading out Tweets almost indiscriminately is to no one’s benefit. There will be some forward thinking and unprecedented ways that social media will interact with some of the programming. We’ll just have to show you.
This is one of the first networks that’s being launched fully and completely in the age of social media. So, it’s woven very deeply into the fabric of our overarching plan. It’s a television network, but it’s also being thought of as a multi-platform network. There will be some forward thinking and unprecedented ways that social media will interact with some of the programming.
What was your favorite MTV show as a kid?
120 Minutes is the go to answer. I also liked Headbanger’s Ball a lot. I also liked Yo! MTV Raps a lot. I loved the first season of the Real World. There will NOT be any reality shows on Revolt.
They really ruined everything. It seems like we’d be ripe for some new version of Headbanger’s Ball now, the way that underground metal has taken off.
Absolutely. Metal’s enjoyed such a rise in prominence. Black metal, too. Brandon Stosuy at Stereogum did a lot of that for at least our demographic, if not the broader metal culture. But there are these huge crossover metals albums and moments over the past few years. There’s definitely room for that. Revolt will cut across all genres and demographics.
Do you have a beat? Are you the indie rock guy?
I obviously have certain pockets of expertise and authority with respect to others, but as Music and Culture Editor and host, I’m sort of cutting a swath across all of our programming and editorial content. There will be people who are responsible, particularly on the programming level, for specific genres to make sure there are people that are deeply immersed in one sound or music.
With something like 120 Minutes, there was a sense that you wouldn’t and couldn’t see that stuff anywhere else if you didn’t have a good college radio station in range. Now, with the Internet and Spotify, with “underground” music creeping into movies, commercials, TV shows, how do you go back to being a vessel for discovery on TV when everything is sort of already out there?
Since before Arctic Monkeys first loaded their first mp3 on to MySpace, there’s been that platform and many others for people to put everything out there, and for it to get picked up everywhere. In light of that, trusted filters and sources for taste have never been more important. We’re just living in a complete glut of information and content. You know, speaking for myself, I need someone to hold my hand through stuff, and I’ve been involved with processing as much of it as possible on, like, an industrial scale. But we really all do.
That’s a service I’ve been proud of providing at Stereogum, and one that I’m really excited to bring to television too. As for the way that looks? That remains to be seen. But we’ve got our eyes wide open to the fact that any music video that makes it to air will be on YouTube ahead of time. You can see whatever you want when ever you want. There’s still a way to make music programming that honors people’s time. That doesn’t necessarily include playing a block of videos for hours. But still finding a way to honor video production culture, and the directors, and identify what videos are worth paying attention to. There’s ways to address that.
“Hang with Diddy” was probably on many late-90s lists of signs that you’ve made it.
Yeah, the dude is just synonymous with entrepreneurial success and building brands, with understanding how to take an idea and send it to the sky. The amazing thing about Diddy occupying this space in my life now is that I had a random “hang with Diddy” moment in 2006. It’s the lead photo on my goodbye post to Stereogum. It’s practically cosmic that the moment exists.
Shades of teenage Bill Clinton and JFK, right?
[Laughs] That line will be sitting in my head forever now, thank you. That image, but with a lot more melanin.