Changing music TV
LOS ANGELES -- Sean "Diddy" Combs knows his way around the small screen -- whether he's launching reality competitions, starring in music videos or doing guest spots on dramas. But the hip-hop mogul's next TV endeavor, his own lifestyle cable network called Revolt, is his most ambitious.
To launch the project, Diddy struck a distribution deal with Comcast as part of the cable provider's push to launch more minority-owned independent networks. The music-themed channel will debut in the fall.
Combs spoke about finding inspiration in MTV and launching a music channel in the social media age.
Q: How long had you been working on developing a network?
A: When MTV stopped playing music videos, it created a huge cultural hole.
If you want to find out something about sports, you can go to ESPN. If you want news, you can go to CNN or Fox. If you want to find out about music now you have to go to the Internet. When I was coming up as an artist, I had a platform, at least I had a chance to perform on BET, MTV, "Soul Train." Having Don Cornelius or Dick Clark -- or Ed Sullivan back in the day -- court you as something to look out for, that's what you aspired to do.
We are living in a great time right now where this millennial generation has decided they are going to take their independence and entrepreneurship into their own hands and start making their own videos and records and distributing them. We need a platform. We need music to be covered and reported with a level of journalistic integrity.
Q: What makes Revolt different from what's out there already?
A: This is a multi-platform venture. We will simultaneously be on all screens. It's the first brand, or network, that specializes on Millennials to be built in the social media age. One of the things I'm most excited about is helping the future of music. When we lost that platform from other outlets and shows, that left a gaping hole in the culture. We plan on filling that hole and being a trusted authority.
Q: But the generation you're targeting has grown accustomed to gathering news on social media, and while music videos are played on some networks, YouTube and Vevo offer artists a wider audience.
A: To be honest BET and MTV changed their business model and (largely) stopped playing music. As a result, (online) is what kids went to. The television experience two years from now will be different. You'll be able to take it with you wherever you're at.
Q: If I'm tuning into Revolt, what's a typical day of programming look like?
A: We will be covering news for you in a real-time way. We would start with a morning show. You'll get interviews from some of your top artists. It'll be provocative -- not Howard Stern-ish, but it will ask and get the questions answered and have a fun feel that will start your day in the right way.
As the afternoon goes on, we'll have this unorthodox show which is on the business of music and the industry and the news of that.
We will then go on to play the world's best music videos and showcase the best emerging talents. On big premiere dates we will have more of a debate, round-table show that talks about socially relevant topics that affect this culture. So, like, right now a huge topic is the Kanye West album. What's the viewpoints?
Q: The gift (and curse) of social media is speed. How will a network born in the social media age keep up?
A: What will be consistent is every half-hour we will have a live news break, so we can report in real time about what's going on in the world of music. There's so much that happens, but there's not always a place for it to be reported. When Michael Jackson passed away, I turned to MTV, and because it wasn't live or set up that way, they were playing reality shows and I couldn't tell if the news was real. I had to turn to TMZ and CNN, and there's something a little off about that.
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