So I'm listening to NPR on the way into work this morning - I've given up television, first for budget constraints and then for overall mental health - and they're talking about MTV. It was strange to hear the crap that's pumped out on the stations here coming through on NPR, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera and the like. So there was the obligatory "Video Killed The Radio Star" sample, a discussion of the ever-evolving times, how MTV was pitched back then and deemed stupid and useless - and now, how there's like, eight MTVs and how they own a bunch of stations in a bunch of countries and streaming onto your cellphone and what not. Fine.
And then, as we love NPR for doing, the story showed both sides. A former executive from BET, who has since resigned and formed an industry think-tank, talked about how it's easy to dominate the market when you own everythign. Infinity Broadcasting, Viacom, MTV (all of them), VH1, BET, and Nickelodeon - they're all the same company. His biggest complaint, other than an unfair share of exposure, was MTV's total disregard for "indie" bands. How when the labels, and the video stations, and what's being exposed to the littler kids are all the same company, that these littler unknown bands never stand a chance and have to be ten times as good and ten times as rich as the average no-name band to even stand a sliver of a chance of getting noticed.
The president of MTV, a woman who was just talking about teenage girls in a Brooklyn Dunkin' Donuts streaming music on their cellphones, responded with the mother of all examples: Fall Out Boy. And she was dead serious. She was all, Fall Out Boy was an unknown, and we premiered them on MTVU, and they played our spring break shows and a bunch of features and look at them now. All, we SO pay attention to indie bands! I repeat: she was serious. It would not surprise me at all to find out that Fall Out Boy was a planned exposure thing so that MTV would have justification of this sort when they are posed this kind of questioning.
Here's the snippet from NPR.org:
MTV's expansion is not without its critics, who say the network is an example of a trend toward consolidation in the entertainment industry, resulting in less variety and fewer opportunities for artists. Paul Porter, a former program director at BET, points out that MTV's parent company, Viacom, also owns Infinity Radio, VH1 and BET.
"If you buy up all your competition," Porter says, "It's real easy to dominate a marketplace."
MTV's Norman counters that its reach allows the network to break independent artists in new ways, crediting MTVU's Spring Break as key venue for indie band Fall Out Boy last year.