Over the last 20 years, the VH1 Save The Music Foundation has provided millions of dollars in funding to music education programs at more than 2,000 public schools across the U.S.
We recently talked with Henry Donahue, vice president and executive director of the Foundation, about the positive impact the organization is having on students’ lives and how it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Here’s what Donahue has to say about his work with VH1 Save The Music Foundation:
As host of this year’s BET Awards, comedian Leslie Jones had a vision for what she wanted the night to be.
Leslie Jones at the BET Awards in Los Angeles, June 25, 2017
“BET was the first network and place where I was on TV,” said Jones in a press release. “I am looking to turn this whole experience into a joyful homecoming.”
This year’s ceremony, which took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, brought recording artists, athletes and actors together for an unabashedly jubilant reunion. Among the top talent in black entertainment present this year were Bruno Mars, Solange Knowles, Chance The Rapper and all six members of New Edition.
It was both a raucous party and tender family reunion, as you can see from these highlights:
Beyoncé shouts out her family, BET and “BeyHive” after winning five awards
Last year, Beyoncé stunned fans with a riveting, elemental BET Awards performance, dancing through fog, fire and water alongside Kendrick Lamar. The superstar did things a bit differently this year, opting to stay home with her newborn twins and enjoy the BET Awards from afar. She nonetheless still won a whopping five BET Awards—more than any other performer.
Her protégés, Atlanta sister-duo Chloe x Halle (Chloe and Halle Bailey) accepted the Viewer’s Choice Award on her behalf, and delivered her acceptance speech.
“Thank you BET for this award and your tremendous support of Lemonade,” wrote Beyonce. “This has been a journey of love, of celebrating our culture, honoring the past, and approaching the present and future with hope and resolve.”
For my 11th birthday, my parents bought me a 13-inch, white Panasonic TV/VCR set. I was most excited about the fact that it was white, and therefore girly, but also the fact that it gave me access to the exclusive club of sixth grade girls at my school who could invite their friends over to watch MTV.
My neighbor Lauren had been the first of my friends to enter this coterie when her older brother moved out and gave her his TV. I skip my bus stop and get off at her house, raid the fridge for Pepperoni lunch-ables, Dunkaroos and Cherry Coke, and head to her basement playroom, where we’d turn the TV straight to TRL and watch Carson Daly countdown the day’s 10 hottest music videos.
On a typical spring afternoon in 2002, we’d watch the same *NSYNC video for the fourth time that week, along with hits from Blink 182, Christina Aguilara, Britney Spears, Shakira, Michelle Branch, Brandy and Kylie Minogue. Sometimes we’d call in our request, but usually we’d just try to guess which one was coming next. Most of the time, we were right.
By the time my new TV allowed me to form my own girls club to watch TRL, Carson Daly had stepped down as host, and we were introduced to a downright dreamy group of regular “VJs” (video deejays, something I learned much later in life). My friends and I crushed hard on Damien Fahey, and wanted to look just like the trendy, chic Vanessa Minnillo.
Now, MTV is bringing back this iconic video countdown show, which ran for 10 years between 1998 and 2008. TRL’s revival is set for October 2, to be broadcast from a renovated version of its iconic Times Square studio.
TRL will be different than the one I remember— the video countdown model and audience request integration will stay, but the new show yanks the format into the post-2008 world of social and interactive media, with a mélange of linear, social and digital dimensions (expect some TRL Snapchat filters and daily updates on Instagram and Twitter).
A new generation of VJs will rotate through the studio, including, as of now, D.C. Young Fly, Erik Zachary, Amy Pham, Tamara Dhia and Lawrence Jackson. Learn more about the hosts here.
The revival of this flagship show is a logical move for the network as it shepherds in a new era of MTV that is remarkably similar to the one my friends and I would watch on that 13-inch TV in my bedroom.
With revivals of My Super Sweet 16 (a reality show I watched religiously as a teen, which I wrote about here) and Fear Factor (NBC’s gruesome game show, re-invented with a millennial twist), as well as a new show called Siesta Key (created by the same producers responsible for MTV’s original, laid back teen-paradise reality show, Laguna Beach), MTV seems ready for a millennial renaissance.
Watch the teaser for Siesta Key:
And why not? All of us who grew up watching these shows as kids are now in our 20s, able to buy our own TVs (albeit without VHS players attached), subscribe for VOD streaming services or cable packages and browse the internet without parental controls. Above all else, we’re nostalgic for the carefree shows of our childhood.
When I used to watch Kristin Cavallari flirt with Stephen Colletti back in middle school, I desperately wanted to be in her $300 Tory Burch kitten heels. Now, I’m in my mid-20s and have slightly different summer aspirations than spending it prancing around a beach with my high school crush, but that doesn’t mean I can’t relive the fun.
MTV President Chris McCarthy is largely responsible for this mining of the network’s history to inform its current programming. “MTV’s reinvention,” he told recently toldThe New York Times, “is coming by harnessing its heritage.”
As a business strategy, this has been remarkably successful. In June and July, ratings for MTV’s target demographic – millennials, aka 18 to 34-year-olds—soared. It was the first time the network experienced two consecutive months of ratings growth in four years.
As Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish toldThe New York Times, “[McCarthy] reset the brand filter, cleaned out the pipeline and began building a new MTV that’s much more based on reality, unscripted and music content.”
Welcome to the August issue of the Viacom Global Insights Digest, bringing you Viacom’s latest consumer insights from around the world.
This month, we unveil our latest project, The Next Normal: Rise of Resilience, as well as new research on how emotions influence viewing decisions, the effect of audio-visual cues on fans’ brains, and young adults in South Africa.
“I give [MTV] credit for having the audacity to shake up the cultural DNA, to show us what a new kind of post-gender consciousness feels like,” said Variety columnist Owen Glieberman. “For kicking open a door by simply doing it.”
Now, MTV is doing it again.
In July, the network announced nominations for the VMAs – and gender-specific awards categories were conspicuously absent.
The categories formerly known as Best Female Video and Best Male Video have been consolidated into Artist of the Year. Nominees within this category include Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, and Kendrick Lamar, whose music video Humble received eight nominations – the highest total of all nominees this year.
Several days after this news broke, we learned that the iconic astronaut trophy has evolved alongside the categories. Meet the MTV Moon Person.
“Why should it be a man?” MTV President Chris McCarthy asked The New York Times. “It could be a man, it could be a woman, it could be transgender, it could be nonconformist.”
MTV also announced that Katy Perry would host the event. Her music video Chained to the Rhythm featuring Skip Marley received five nominations, tying her with fellow Artist of the Year nominee The Weeknd for the second highest number of nominations this year.
The Movie and TV Awards’ category celebrated “characters fighting back against systems that hold them down,” and the VMA version will honor music videos that do the same thing, such as The Hamilton Mixtape’s Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) and Alessia Cara’s Scars to Your Beautiful. Both videos generated positive buzz for their stance on important issues: immigration and body positivity, respectively.
(L-R) Sharlotte Ritchie, Sophie Kasaei, Catherine Hunter, Kristen Hanby, Milly Gattegno, Josh Ritchie
Written by Catherine Hunter, MTV UK PR & Talent Coordinator
It’s crazy to think that just a few weeks ago, I was on a yacht off the Malta coast, filming for the comeback of MTV’s 1990s smash hit dance music show The Grind. Rewind to eight hours earlier, pulling up to the Radisson Blu at 3 a.m. with Geordie Shore’sSophie Kasaei and Ex on the Beach’sJosh Ritchie, spirits were definitely high (apart from the thought of being awake in less than four hours). But who cares when you’re in Malta, eh?
Sitting at my desk in London, thinking back to the Isle of MTV (IOMTV) festivities, I can say this was the best MTV event I have worked on in my more than two years at the network.
Ahead of the jam-packed three days, I was determined to make the most of the experience and help get the most out of our press and influencers while on the island. Upon arriving in Malta, my role for the next couple of days would be talent management and press liaison for the UK. This ranged from managing the MTV talent and ensuring that they partook in all of their prior arranged commitments, to facilitating interviews with show talent at the press conference.
I have worked on countless MTV events, big and small, and it always amazes me how much hard work goes into them. From running around backstage at the EMAs trying to locate an earbud for Justin Bieber to talent managing MTV talent at IOMTV, the work is varyied often very hard, but also incredibly fun. The saying “Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work another day in your life,” resonates with me whenever I work an MTV event, and this year’s IOMTV was no different.
Sunday was pretty incredible, watching the production and recreation of The Grind come together and being a part of the party with Senior PR Manager Milly Gattegno, MTV talent – the aforementioned Sophie and Josh – and our influencer, Kristen Hanby, from UniLad. Seeing the social response and being a part of MTV’s revival of a classic music show was amazing.
Cafe Del Mar during production of MTV’s The Grind
Monday we spent the day entertaining these guests, visiting top Maltese hot spots, including the Blue Lagoon , the famous azure blue bay on the west side of Comino island.
The Blue Lagoon, (R-L) Sophie, Josh, Catherine and Milly
The beautiful surroundings provided an ideal canvas for fun social content:
After transforming Madison Square Garden into a terrestrial dance hall, aerobics studio and lemonade stand for last year’s ceremony, MTV is heading back to California—specifically the Forum, a historic venue in Inglewood.
“MTV, at 35 years old, has been around almost as long as the Forum,” said Forum manager Shelli Azoff in a press release. “Together, we’re 85 and enjoy lifetimes of music history.”
Welcome to the July issue of the Viacom Global Insights Digest, bringing you Viacom’s latest consumer insights from around the world.
For Pride Month (June), we published stories on the most LGBT-friendly US companies and Ireland’s first gay prime minister. We also have a video of our Modern Dads and research on play in the Netherlands, Gen Xers in South Africa and originality among teens and young adults.
As always, the English version of our blog is home to these stories and many more. All stories are available in Spanish (LatAm) and Portuguese (Brazilian).
Those passing in and out of Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters throughout June found a collection of Gibson Les Paul guitars nestled in a sunlit corner of the lobby. The exhibit flows effortlessly with the building’s groovy aesthetic, and could easily be an installation at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It’s the brainchild of VH1 Save The Music Foundation, executed in collaboration with Art at Viacom and over 40 renowned visual artists and musicians.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of VH1 Save The Music, the artists worked in pairs to create 20 stunning, ornate instruments—enough to make any music fiend, art collector or investor swoon. And they will get their chance to do more than just admire them when VH1 Save The Music auctions off these guitars in October, partnering with Julien’s Auctions Los Angeles as part of their Idols & Icons: Rock and Roll sale. The proceeds are expected to fund musical instruments for at least 30 school band programs in the U.S.
Until then, these guitars are on tour—starting at Viacom headquarters and touring the New York-metro area until the fall, so fans and admirers can appreciate the majestic endeavor.
The Gibson installation at Viacom Headquarters. Photo by Bart Stadnicki.
I spoke with VH1 Save The Music Executive Director Henry Donahue to learn more about what promoted this massive, creative collaboration, and what he hopes to achieve with such campaigns.