suntimes
SWEET 
Weather Updates

MTV to mark July 4 with (gasp!) music

“Music Independence Day” will highlight superstars like JustTimberlake as well as emerging acts. | CHARLES SYKES~INVISION/AP

“Music Independence Day” will highlight superstars like Justin Timberlake as well as emerging acts. | CHARLES SYKES~INVISION/AP

storyidforme: 51335224
tmspicid: 19092132
fileheaderid: 8635858

Updated: August 2, 2013 6:16AM



NEW YORK — MTV, VH1 and CMT are going back to their roots on the Fourth of July.

The networks will throw a “Music Independence Day” party that day, showing videos and giving exposure to artists at a time it can be hard for them to break through to a larger audience.

Each of the networks began their lives as music video channels but shifted to other, more lucrative programming through the years. Music programming is limited now — a wee-hours dance party on MTV, the “Jump Start” morning show on VH1, a weekend Hot 20 on the country-oriented CMT. Much of their music content now is concentrated online or on digital channels like VH1 Classic.

“This harkens back to the core of these music brands,” said Van Toffler, head of the Viacom Networks.

MTV on Thursday will have hours devoted to particular music genres, highlighting artists like Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. VH1 will show videos and performances from the likes of Alicia Keys, Pink and Maroon 5, and telecast a live concert that night from Philadelphia featuring the Roots and John Mayer. CMT will offer a “barbecue play­list” of artists like the Avett Brothers, Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan.

The networks are also offering emerging bands a chance to set up online pages on the Artist Platform and compete to have their videos shown on TV. Even if they don’t make it on the air, it provides a gathering place for fans, Toffler said.

If a bluegrass band earns enough to buy a new tour bus or a rap act purchases equipment because of the exposure, then Toffler said he will consider it a success.

“In part it is to remind people what an immersive experience we can provide so people can hear the music and the artists and the stories behind the artists,” he said.

There’s not much for the networks to lose from such an event. The first week of July is traditionally the lightest week of the year for television watching, primarily because so many people are outside or doing other things. The networks will offer themselves up as soundtracks for Fourth of July parties.

“It is a celebration, and we hope we can do it more often,” Toffler said.

AP



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.