Remember when music TV channels actually focussed 100% on music? Once upon a time, MTV, MuchMusic and others were able to focus on music programming, but demographic and ratings realities forced them to brand out into lifestyle and celebrity programming. Frankly, they had no choice; if they wanted to survive, they had to evolve in that direction.
However, maybe there is a way to do music TV programming in this age of digital, unbundling, cord-cutting and pick’n’pay. I wrote this for The National Post today about Vintage TV, a UK-based music channel that has a digital license for Canada and really wants to be on the air in this country.
Tucked away on the third floor of an unassuming office block atop the Holborn tube station in central London is the headquarters of one of the fastest growing music television operations in the world. A large room is dominated by a long table topped with Macs loaded with video editing software, while the tiny room is for administration.
Ratings for December were up 29 per cent year-over-year — great news for a channel that survives solely on advertising and not a single penny of cable TV subscription revenue. The man behind the desk in the tiny office smiles, grabs his fedora and heads for the door.
The man in the hat is David Pick, a onetime member of British music recording and publishing giant EMI’s legal team, now the CEO of Vintage TV. About five years ago, he decided that there was a need for a proper TV music channel devoted to, well, music, not the reality shows and celebrity gossip reels that have come to fill up the schedules of our once mighty music channels.
“It seemed extraordinary to me that the largest and most rapidly growing sector of the population, with its leisure time and disposable income, had been ignored by every so-called music TV channel in the U.K,” he told me, referring to boomers, in Britain and around the world. “More than 30 of them had, in effect, disregarded those of us who grew up with a rich and varied range of music. Vintage TV was devised to fill that gap.”