Hey! Today’s update covers the heated political debate at this weekend’s Revolt Summit, the new documentary on Beyonce’s The Gift that airs tonight on ABC, and YouTube’s crackdown on payola.
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Revolt Summit’s Political Panel
The Revolt Summit’s “Trap the Vote: Hip Hop & Politics” panel has gone viral (as expected) Here’s a recap from Revolt:
“One panel in particular called “Trap the Vote: Hip Hop & Politics” focused on the importance of being vocal and educating yourself ahead of the 2020 election.
The panel discussion included activist and co-president of the 2019 Women’s March Tamika Mallory, rappers and activists T.I. and Killer Mike, activist and former spokesperson for the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign Katrina Pierson, American conservative commentator Candace Owens, and Steven Pargett of Dream Defenders. Journalist Jeff Johnson moderated the conversation.
It’s no secret that discussions regarding the current political climate can easily rile up emotions and frustrations, and that was no different with the “Trap the Vote: Hip Hop & Politics” panel, which has gone viral via social media.
It was a polarizing debate intended to both break the political echo chamber and generate buzz. Viral content is a consistent goal for Revolt, a media company with an ad-based business model. Some were angered by Revolt’s decision to provide a platform for those it doesn’t share political views with, but that’s inherent with any type of political panel with opposing views. Revolt seemed pleased though. Diddy was in the front row at the panel, cheering like he was at a sporting event.
This panel reminded me of a personal experience creating a similar panel.
Six years ago, I put together a panel in business school for our Black Business Students Association’s annual conference. The panel was “Is President Obama Good or Bad for Business?” The speakers included a local black conservative, a member of the Obama administration, an economic development expert, and an exec from a major automotive company. It went exactly as expected. There was over-talking, yelling, and talking points queued up to take down the other panelists. All we needed was the clip of Cam’Ron pointing at Bill O’Reilly and saying “U Maaaad!”
I created this panel for two reasons (which are both relevant to Revolt):
- Drive demand. Most of the conference’s content was geared toward sponsor-driven panel discussions. But those panels were merely sales pitches for companies to recruit MBA students. While those discussions paid our bills, they weren’t valuable for alumni who wanted thought-provoking discussion. A panel like this would drive interest for future conferences.
- Spice things up. I knew that this panel, if executed well, would be the talk of the conference. This panel was held shortly after the 2012 election. The impact of the U.S. government automotive and bank bailouts were hot topics that were top of mind for executives. It was also entertaining to see that type of debate in an otherwise standard day of programming.
Similarly, Revolt’s panel was one of the few viral moments that the company has had in 2019. It resembled the talking heads format that’s become a cable network cornerstone for sports, politics, and hip-hop coverage. For instance, First Take is one of the most popular shows on ESPN. The producers will intentionally put Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman up against conservative pundit Will Cain to discuss any politically-oriented issues on the NFL, Colin Kaepernick, and more. CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have done the same with their respective programs.
To some extent, Revolt has already dipped its feet in these waters. The most popular clips from State of the Culture were the intense arguments between former co-host Scottie Beam and Joe Budden, who often debated politics, women’s rights, and other sensitive topics.
As Revolt continues to find content that resonates with its audience, don’t be surprised if Candace Owens and other black conservatives make more regular appearances on the network. It’s too early to call this the “Foxification of Revolt,” but don’t be surprised if it happens.
Why Beyonce’s ‘Making The Gift’ is on ABC
Beyonce’s run of follow-on content continues. Tonight, Beyonce Presents: Making The Gift will air on ABC. Here’s the promo clip:
To be precise, this documentary sits at the top of the funnel, next to the interviews. This documentary is on ABC, a broadcast network. It can be easily accessed in the U.S. with an antenna. It’s a pathway to The Gift album and other forms of Beyonce’s content and merchandise.
But Beyonce didn’t “choose” ABC to distribute the documentary in the same way that she chose Netflix for Homecoming. The Lion King was released by Disney, which owns ABC. When the movie came out, ABC aired the behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the entire cast of Disney’s live-action Lion King cast. Robin Roberts interviewed Beyonce on ABC’s Good Morning America. ABC likely had first right of refusal.
It seems like ABC has tepid audience expectations for Making The Gift though. First, we only got one-day advanced notice. While surprise drops are common for Beyonce, Netflix’s Homecoming was announced at least a week in advance. Second, it starts at 10pm ET which is relatively late for primetime TV. It also competes against ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which is run by ABC and Disney. Those programs don’t necessarily compete for the same viewer, but if both of those viewers are in the same household with a single TV, then they still end up in competition.
Disney also owns Hulu, but that wasn’t a viable option. Hulu has a strong documentary game too, but Beyonce still has future projects coming on Netflix.
YouTube’s Crackdown on Pay-for-Play
This week, YouTube cracked down on pay-for-play videos that contributed to its music charts. This has been an ongoing challenge in the digital streaming era. But this latest crackdown seems more reactionary than strategic.
From Music Business Worldwide:
[YouTube’sTrueView tool] allows anyone to pay money to have a piece of YouTube content auto-play before a user’s chosen video. If user then interacts with that TrueView pre-roll, or watches it for a certain number of seconds, it can count as a legitimate ‘view’ on its source YouTube channel.
On Friday, July 12, BadShah admitted using paid promotion tools to achieve his record YouTube view-count. In an Instagram video, he argued that “what some people call fake views are not fake views… they are google ad words”…
[On September 13], YouTube has announced it’s cracking down on exactly this kind of practice.
For starters, any paid for/assisted view on YouTube will now no longer be counted towards the platform’s own Music Charts – something which YouTube says pulls it line with the official charting policy of US industry monitor Billboard/Nielsen.
And, to make its policy as regards record-breaking videos very clear, YouTube has also officially announced that paid for/assisted views will never again count towards its 24-hour record debut metrics.”
This was a pretty blatant form of pay-for-play. But there’s still a very strong market for pay-for-playlists on DSPs. Last year, Spotify shut down Spotlister, a service that charged $2,000+ for artists to be considered for thousands of playlists that are followed by millions of fans. But Spotlister was only shut down after an investigative report by Daily Dot that highlighted the company’s practices.
But Spotlister was just another extreme example. Sites like Playlist Push develop campaigns for artists to get their music in front of playlist curators. It charges a set amount to help “market” artists. It does not guarantee placement, but it leverages connections and influence to make it possible.
This type of payola is further upstream and harder to crack down on. It can easily be framed as a marketing requirement for independent artists to level up against some of the practices that happen under the table between certain record labels and streaming playlist curators.
Music’s digital streaming era is still relatively young. This will be an ongoing issue. Stay tuned for more on this.