We welcome back Jacobs Media's Dave Beasing for another guest spot:
So sang Jack White of The Raconteurs during MTV's Video Music Awards, an apt revision of the lyrics of the first video ever played on MTV 25 years ago. This year's good news/bad news scenario for the VMAs is that ratings were down again to just 5.77 million viewers, less than half what the show once garnered. Meanwhile, MTV's broadband video site "Overdrive" reached its highest traffic ever - 3.9 million streams. Do the math: Online offerings got almost 2/3rds of the audience as the main channel version.
Of course, as sure as the VMAs will air each Fall, TV and music critics - some of us probably showing our age in the process - will write scathing reviews, lamenting what we remember as being that network's golden years. In truth, some of the performances, jokes and sketches worked and some didn't, just as when the VMAs were setting ratings records.
What's really changed is popular music and pop culture. Very few of today's "hits" have consensus appeal. Instead of simply being divided along Hip Hop, Rock and Pop lines, each genre has as many sub-divisions as it has individual fans. Young people we meet in our research still have favorite artists; they just don't agree with their peers about many of them. They wonder aloud why every radio station and video channel - and music awards show - can't sound as good as their own iPod.
No wonder they'd rather call up the Panic! at the Disco performance on-demand without first having to watch Beyonce - or vice versa. For years in radio, we've repositioned competitors with promos that say, "You don't have to sit through THIS (undesired music) to get to THIS (a core artist or song)." Now radio, MTV and all other so-called "mass media" must contend with just that concept: Today, you don't have to sit through anything you don't want to get exactly what you do.