The sight of music
Three-tiered Studio M stresses sound's video component
By Joe Schlosser -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/25/2001 7:00:00 PM
Michael Lloyd and Max Keller wanted to bring music videos back to television-and not just to cable television. Lloyd, a veteran music producer, and Keller, an entertainment attorney, felt the MTVs and VH1s of the world were getting away from their roots. Too much talk and fluff, they said.
So Keller and Lloyd acquired the rights to the 25,000 music-video library, owned by New Jersey-based Power Play Music Video Corp., and launched a network of sorts, called Studio M.
But Studio M isn't your basic music-video cable network. It's a three-tiered setup that includes a four-hour-a-day satellite feed carried by more than 150 local TV stations, a pair of first-run syndicated shows and a digital cable network that Keller and Lloyd hope to launch within the next two years. "Our future is the 24-by-7 digital channel, not terrestrial broadcast," says Keller, the chairman of the company, who was also behind the syndication efforts of action series Acapulco H.E.A.T. and Tarzan.
"We're just hoping to get on the charts right now," says Studio M's president Lloyd, who has produced albums for Dionne Warwick and Lou Rawls, among others. "We are hoping to entertain in a creative way and have personalities to identify with. We're going to present things they haven't been seeing recently-the video component to music. You don't see a lot of that on VH1 or MTV.
"Studio M has the backing of French media company Thomson Multimedia and Internet service provider PSINet and is currently in carriage talks with Adelphia, DirecTV, Comcast and other cable and satellite providers. The company, based in Sherman Oaks, Calif., launched its four-hour daily feed on Dec. 11, mainly on low-powered stations cobbled together through carriage on various cable systems. The feed consists of separate formats, including country, hits and urban, each with VJs. Stations are not forced to carry the whole four-hour package in one continuous play, and many don't, says Keller.
"It gives a lot of these low-powered stations high-quality programming that most of them wouldn't be able to get," says Keller.
Studio M executives went to NATPE for the first time last month and came away from the convention with an adjusted business plan. Two series planned for both the daily broadcast feed and the eventual digital channel were suddenly set for separate syndication offerings.
Studio M executives say Pillow Talk, a daily strip show featuring a scantily clad hostess chatting with musicians from her bed, and Wrestle Rock, a hybrid weekly rock and wrestling show (featuring grapplers from little known American International Wrestling organization) are cleared in over 50% of the country for their September launches. Stations signed for both series include KNWS-TV Houston, WGTW-TV Philadelphia, WBQC-TV Cincinnati, KCNG-TV Las Vegas and WHTW-TV Hartford. Neither series is set for any of the top three markets (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago), but Studio M executives say they have offers in L.A. and Chicago.
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