There’s no music on the TV anymore,” they all cry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no music TV. Or, to put it a little less succinctly, there’s still plenty of new music finding its way to the peepers of young generations. It’s just that these days you’re more likely to find it on mobile phones and tablets rather than those old-fashioned boxes that sit in the corner of the living room.
You only need to look at the subscriber count of Vice’s Noisey, one of YouTube’s most successful Original Channels when it comes to music, to see that there’s plenty of demand for music video content on the internet. Since its creation, Noisey has hosted a range of exclusive music videos from the likes of David Lynch, Paul McCartney and M.I.A alongside original content including opinionated soapbox series Record Shop Dude presented by Rough Trade’s Sean Forbes. As a result, it’s netted more than 130,000 subscribers and over 90 million video views.
M.I.A’s official Bad Girls video was an exclusive for the internet channel and one of the first videos to grace Noisey nine months ago – it has since racked up more than 28 million views. A more recent addition to the Noisey library looks like it might surpass that milestone – the official video for Die Antwoord’s Fatty Boom Boom has gathered five million views after just one month online.
“No one really does music video premieres on telly anymore,” Noisey series producer Alex Hoffman tells Music Week. “The best bit has been that labels and managers seem to be really keen to get in touch. I think there’s enough evidence to show there’s a good subscriber base here and Vice has a good global network as well.”
Hoffman himself has a history in music TV, having come from MTV2, but even he finds himself amazed at Noisey’s popularity: “We launched nine months ago and now we’re over 90 million views. I just didn’t have anything to compare that with coming from a music TV background.”
Vice’s UK?editor in chief Alex Miller is similarly keen to tip the internet as the future home for music video. “I absolutely think that Noisey can fill the gap that’s been left by TV,” he tells Music Week. “When we had the M.I.A comeback video, it felt like that. Everyone was talking about it on Twitter and getting excited. Friends of mine who didn’t know I was involved were phoning up and saying, ‘You’ve got to watch this’.”
Miller says that internet programming efforts like Noisey are best placed to uphold and progress the visual element of music these days because they’re able to “own that sense of event again. I really do think to have a brand that people can feel loyal to is synonymous with quality music,” he says. “The visual aspect of the music industry is very important and I absolutely believe that we’re the best people to do it. “Through Vice, I feel we’ve changed the way people think about online TV and documentary and we aim to do the same with music TV. Look at the M.I.A video: within a couple of days on Noisey, over 15 million people had watched it,” Miller points out. “That’s like the equivalent of getting it on EastEnders at Christmas. “Don’t get me wrong, M.I.A’s amazing and she would have done incredibly well on her own, but we like to think we had something to do with it.”
Significantly, Vice itself is an international company with bases in more than 30 countries around the world including the US, Russia, Brazil and Europe. “We can bring an international focus, we can get eyes on it from everywhere. When we all join together and work as one it can be devastatingly successful.”
Alex Hoffman is keen for the music industry to recognise both Vice’s clout on an international stage, but also its passion and respect for music. Often a brand synonymous with cutting and irreverent humour, Hoffman wants more labels to work with Vice’s Noisey brand with confidence.
“Our aim is to get the industry to trust us to do something a bit different but know that we really love music. Some people might see Noisey and be put off by the Vice link because they might wonder if it’s a piss-take, but we wouldn’t ask to interview an artist if we didn’t want the end result to be something they’d look back at and feel it was really worth doing.”
Miller pays tribute to YouTube as a platform generally, both for its dominance in the market and its role as an online enabler. It’s with that in mind that he sees a bright future for Noisey. “Personally I think the sky’s the limit,” he says. “YouTube is such a fantastic platform and we’re so lucky to be working alongside them because they really know what they’re doing. YouTube is just a fact of life,” he concludes. “You breathe air, you drink water, you watch videos on YouTube. I feel like there’s absolutely no top level to that and I think that we can dominate online music video through that.”