Words/Edited by: Alexia Kapralos
Remember the days when you’d turn your T.V. on to the Canadian equivalent of MTV, MuchMusic, and find a slew of original programming, watch VJ Ed the Sock (who was literally a cigar smoking sock in the form of a puppet), and actually see music videos? Well, those days are gone. Now when you turn on your T.V to Much (they dropped the “music” portion of their name in 2013), you’re more likely to find that original content has been replaced by re-runs of mediocre MTV reality shows, a disappearance of VJs, and not very many music videos. The 2010s saw a lot of these changes happen but what really consolidated the “downfall” (as many people refer to it as) is the cutting of close to 100 Much employees: eight original shows were cancelled and VJs such as Lauren Toyota, Leah Miller, and Scott Willats lost their jobs. Now, Much is rebranding again; they’re going digital.
The station announced at the beginning of April that they’ll be taking advantage of the digital platform that has taken over the world: the Internet. Rather than having new on-air VJs and relying on the old brand, Much has introduced a team of established YouTubers collectively called “Much Digital Studios.” The team consists of 11 individuals and one group of four YouTubers uploading online video content to http://www.much.com of different genres ranging from comedy to beauty. In a press release from their parent company, Bell Media, it’s stressed that Much needs to evolve and stay connected with the youth, and the best way to do so is by going online.
Boom. Did you hear that? I just heard the last nail on the music television coffin being finally and firmly nailed into place.
Personally, having grown up with MuchMusic/Much, I’ve always found the channel to be a source of nostalgia. As an avid music fan from the tender age of four-years-old, I lived for music programming on T.V., especially on Much because there wasn’t much anywhere else at the time. As I grew older, I, like many other people, wanted to be a VJ myself. Now that I’m a year away from graduating journalism school and in my 20s, if this were like the good ol’ days of Much, I’d be ripe for applying for such job. But being a VJ is an extinct job. It’s obsolete (unfortunately). Period.
Executives from Bell Media argue that the Internet has killed television. Is this really the case or did Much dig its grave far before this were the case? Of course, I’m on the side of older fans who were once dedicated to the original format of the channel. Frankly I don’t like this idea of Much Digital Studios mostly because I am opposed to change; as the old saying states, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” I was fully comfortable with having the option for music television.
But the idea to shift to an online platform does make sense. These days, people don’t need to watch T.V. to wait for their favorite music video because they could stream it online, at their convenience for free. People are addicted to the Internet, especially social media, and going with the direction of YouTubers churning out content that’s broader than just music definitely diversifies and expands the audience, not to mention gets the attention of those glued to their smartphones and laptops.
I may be sounding like an old fart who’s resistant to change because I stand by the old branding and programming of Much rather than replacing VJs and original programming with the Much Digital Studios. However this is nothing that I can stop; nothing that we could stop. The advancement of technology and the way people receive their news and entertainment in general has changed, and Much seems to be just trying to get with the times.
Video may have already killed the radio star, as the song suggests, but what do you think: has the Internet killed the television star? More specifically is Much music dead or just evolving into a different form?