MTV will be bringing back TRL while they attempt to stay relevant:
Then in October, MTV will unveil the revival of “TRL.” The original iteration — which featured a countdown of music videos, a studio audience and frequent appearances from star musicians — was, in a way, a throwback itself, an updated version of “American Bandstand.”
The newer version of “TRL” will initially run an hour a day, and Mr. McCarthy said that might grow to two to three hours a day as the show developed. (There will also be unique daily content for Instagram, Snapchat and other social media channels.)
I remember watching TRL when I was younger. I watched it because there was a chance Blink-182, New Found Glory, or Sum 41 would make it onto the countdown and I’d get to see thirty seconds of their video. One of the main reasons I started AbsolutePunk.net was so that I could catalog music videos for bands I loved in a place where everyone could find them easily. Thankfully, YouTube ended up doing all that way better than I could have ever dreamed.
What TRL did well was become a destination for any artist starting their album cycle. If you wanted a shot at breaking out, you had to appear on the show and do an interview/video debut/live performance. This worked great when MTV was one of the only gatekeepers for the music industry. New album information for a select group of artists could break on TRL. Now, with access to more video (and news) content for bands than I could ever consume in a lifetime on the internet, I wonder what the hook will be for TRL that makes it worth watching. As someone that barely watches any live TV, I’m skeptical about the demand for these kinds of shows. Finding the small communities, video channels, and/or podcasts that are tailored to your specific listening habits just seems more interesting to me.
Jordan Sargent, writing at Spin, with a detailed look at the what happened over at MTV News:
It was a fairly gentle critique of a band who, pretty much anyone would agree, is no longer putting out its best music. Still, the article became an immediate source of trouble for MTV and it was quietly deleted after the band raised concerns with executives at the network. […] Hopper called a staff meeting two days later to discuss the situation. According to an ex-staff member who attended the meeting, Hopper explained that the band became aware of the article and threatened to remove itself from the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Conversations between senior staff and artist representatives on the topic of what would be accepted on the site happened with some regularity. On July 5, 2016, Hopper told the staff that MTV was attempting to book DJ Khaled for various unknown projects, telling the staff that they might have to “nix” any writing on the producer “unless it’s like, KHALED IS GREAT.” Elsewhere, interference from artist reps was so pervasive that some MTV News editors spent part of this past New Year’s Eve haggling line-by-line with a chart-topping, platinum-selling, Grammy-winning female pop star’s publicist over a post in which MTV’s editors eventually agreed to cut one sentence.
What a complete shit-show.
MTV News is laying off a bunch of their writing staff to shift toward video and short form content for a younger audience. Variety reports:
Among the most significant changes — MTV has reached an agreement with the Writers Guild of America East to represent MTV News staff members. As part of that agreement, MTV News is parting ways with fewer than a dozen staffers and several freelancers. The news division is in the process of hiring additional personnel to focus on video and short-form content.
I actually thought MTV had been putting out some pretty good written content over the last year. A shame to see how difficult making money online has become for most publishers.
Hazel Cills, writing at MTV:
While male producers and musicians like Philip Glass and Steve Reich have been written about and documented extensively, the work of female producers and early electronic musicians like Wendy Carlos, Laurie Spiegel, Delia Derbyshire, and more have essentially been ignored and undervalued by music historians. To combat the stereotype that production is solely a man’s job, The Blow created an online archive, womanproducer.com, to collect photos and clips of female producers in history. Recently, the archive has expanded into a live event series at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust, featuring performances and talks by artists like Zola Jesus, Neko Case, and more.
Elias Leight, writing for Rolling Stone:
MTV plans to rebrand VH1 Classic as MTV Classic starting on August 1st. According to a statement from the company, the new channel will focus on “an eclectic mix of fan-favorite MTV series and music programming drawn from across its rich history, with a special focus on the 1990s and early 2000s.”
All of our childhoods one day become “classic.”
Miles Raymer, writing for MTV, looks at some ideas on fixing copyright law in how it relates to musicians and clearing samples:
Menell’s solution is to apply something called a compulsory license to sampling, remixing, and other derivative works. Compulsory licenses replace the process of gaining a copyright holder’s permission to make use of their original work with a flat royalty structure and a set of rules for how the work can be reinterpreted. We already have this kind of setup for cover songs: Under U.S. copyright law, anyone can perform and record any song that anyone else has written and recorded without getting their prior permission, as long as they pay a royalty to the copyright owner. This is why pop-punk bands can cover Top 40 songs, why iTunes is full of sound-alike cover versions of hit songs by artists it doesn’t have deals with, and why hip-hop producers often hire instrumentalists to play “interpolations” of musical passages they want to sample but can’t clear.
Steven Zeitchik, writing for the LA Times:
“Unplugged,” which could be on the air in coming months, will stoke the interest of those who came of age with artists such as Nirvana, Eric Clapton and Arrested Development breaking down their music to its acoustic basics, often with some added atmosphere.
“It won’t be carpets and candles,” Erik Flannigan, executive vice president of music and multiplatform strategy, said of the new show. “And it won’t be rock legends playing their catalog. “What we want to do,” he said, “is take the attributes that made ‘Unplugged’ such a success for so many years and reimagine them for 2016.”
The podcasts will record in both New York and Los Angeles, and will be available via iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud. More podcasts will be announced at a later date. They include: “Skillset with Amy Nicholson.” a film podcast featuring the critic in the title; “No Requests Live,” a weekly music and pop culture roundtable; “The Stakes,” a weekly political magazine; “North Mollywood,” featuring Molly Lambert and Alex Pappademas offering the California view of pop culture; and “Speed Dial with Ira & Doreen,” in which Ira Madison III and Doreen St. Felix host a bi-coastal program that tackles music, pop culture, sex and race.
So far, I’ve gotta say I’ve been really impressed with what they’ve put together. I still find their website to be an abomination, but the content and writing has been top notch.
MTV has been revamping their news and publishing recently and have put out just fantastic content. Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib recently wrote an article on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo and the “myth of rare black genius.”
Assessing The Life of Pablo, like assessing the entire career of Kanye West, means considering the demand for black greatness and the toll it takes on the great. I am not commenting now on West’s mental or emotional state. I have no access to Kanye West, or his life, beyond what he shares through his work. I am talking about the toll it takes on artists in the black imagination, in the spaces where we hold them dear. It is equal parts frustrating and wholly understandable to see the way both white establishments and black consumers hold on to the idea of black genius. The concept is held so tightly and with so little change or evolution in what the black genius can or should represent. This leaves the imagination with so few established and named black geniuses that they must be protected at all costs. I have been guilty of this, both the limited naming and the relentless protection, more with Kanye West than anyone else.