CEO Q&A: Keith Clinkscales, Revolt TV

Revolt TV CEO Keith Clinkscales talks about how the new music channel is targeting a social media-obsessed generation.

What differentiates Revolt TV from music channels such as MTV2 and Fuse?
Revolt is Sean Combs' vision to put together a music network to fill a space he felt existed in the marketplace - especially when it comes to dealing with music television and content. Other music networks have moved away from actually covering music, but we are dedicated to it in the way that CNN covers news and ESPN covers sports.

We are focused on the whole ecosystem of music. We want to cover it in an authentic way. Music's popularity is not waning, so Revolt aims to be central to the conversations young people have around music.

What has been your main mode of promoting the new channel?
To reach our demographic of young people, we had to be social and make sure content was able to be social by design. We had to work hard on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other growing platforms.

We don't want Revolt to be just a channel - but an entire content platform that has a channel. Before we launched, we were reaching out to audiences on YouTube and on their mobile devices. We needed to have a social media voice we transferred to the network. The most important thing is that we continue to be interactive.

What did you do to start the conversation?
To build engagement and anticipation for The Weeknd's Kiss Land album, for example, we executed a social campaign that connected Abel Tesfaye [The Weeknd's real name] with fans in an authentic way. We produced a provocative viral video and told fans to call a mobile line with a Toronto area code [where Tesfaye lives]. Callers were led to a voicemail where they received a message from Abel. Each day, we put out compelling Instagram images and tweets informing fans when to call.

We also released behind-the-scenes footage of his preparation for his tour. After receiving more than 25,000 voicemails, he called fans back personally and engaged them on Twitter, which we uploaded a video of online. Custom Kiss Land skins were created for all of our social platforms.

To close out the campaign, we released a graphic telling fans to meet The Weeknd before his Jimmy Kimmel Live performance for an impromptu album signing, which caused a fan riot on Hollywood Boulevard.

How can PR pros tap into your channel?
We are always looking for good stories and information about music. If you look at our launch and how social media is picked up on different stories, there is an influence across not just traditional media, but also a good amount of the blogosphere.

For example, we showed rehearsal footage of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke that gave insight about what was going on before the MTV Video Music Awards. This kind of thing gives PR pros an example of how Revolt's mission is to go deeper and find different ways to use the power of artists and the relationships they have with their fans to benefit brands. We will work with major media names on advertising and a promotional basis, such as Beats by Dre, for example.

What role does PR play?
We use 42West, which has really helped to position us. The firm has awesome celebrity experience and a solid music background.

We also have an in-house communications unit that works with 42West to define our priorities and how they should be handled.

With more networks moving away from video and integrating music into original programming, how will Revolt keep up with new trends?

To be good in media you have to surround yourself with people who are part of the culture. That's what we are doing. We have a number of people - not just from the social media side, but everything from programming to producing the network - that understand or are part of the demographic we are going after. This is the only way we can continue to be innovative.

What are your biggest challenges?
Finding ways to continue to show the people who are in cable distribution that this is a good channel to have, and that we can bring a young energetic audience - the viewers of the future. We need to prove that our audience will be valuable to them.

We also need to continue to engage our advertising partners and provide them with a good environment for their brands, but at the same time keep our content on the edge so we keep the attention of young people. We have our work cut out for us, but Combs' experience has been helpful for us.

Looking ahead, do you have any grand plans for expansion?
Getting domestic distribution is a big challenge. We have to stay focused on that before we think about looking globally. But we do have eventual plans to go worldwide.

Seeing the success of others in the music space - such as Viacom, for example - that have developed great businesses overseas really helps us to look forward to that.

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