It’s becoming more and more evident that a new era is being ushered in within the music business. The old rules are being rewritten, and if REVOLT TV‘s mission is accomplished, this revolution will be televised and well documented. The network spearheaded by Sean “Diddy” Combs is looking to be at the forefront of effectively covering everything music-related in innovative ways. “I think the ‘new rules’ type of notion that JAY Z set off really helped to create the current environment where we at REVOLT feel we have the ability to do some things that haven’t been done before, because rules are being challenged,” says REVOLT’s CEO, Keith Clinkscales. The former President of Vibe and ESPN executive, along with Andy Schuon and Val Boreland have been commission by the hip-hop mogul to form the executive dream team committed to establishing REVOLT as the premier destination for all things music. Life+Times spoke with Mr. Clinkscales about everything REVOLT – from what viewers can expect now that the channel has launched to why REVOLT’s mission is to be social by design.
Life + Times: What does the name REVOLT symbolize?
Keith Clinkscales: It’s an idea or concept that has been developed by Sean and it basically speaks about the power of change and embracing the power of change by getting comfortable with the necessity of innovation and finding every single way to break through the status quo. The foundation is the type of energy that we’re bringing to it.
L+T: It’s an exciting time in music. Some of the most influential figures in the industry seem to be rewriting the rulebook. How will REVOLT be a part of ushering in this next era?
KC: Hard work and complete and blind commitment to serving music. That’s what we are about. We want to understand not just how the music is played, but also the creative process that got us to this point. If you go back to the Timbaland interview where we had him talking about his relationship with Jay and some of the Magna Carta… Holy Grail stuff – that’s the sort of the direction that we want to go in. You as a fan will get insight into the minds and what’s really going on, because when something is going on in music you can’t talk enough about it. You really want to break it down. There wasn’t enough discussion regarding Magna Carta. We wanted to keep talking about it. We wanted to find out how the commercial happened and how all these things came together. This was a seminal moment and what we’re doing with REVOLT is symbiotic, because the depth of events like Magna Carta’s release all provides a very, very fertile area for discussion for fans and folks that want to know more about the art they love. They just cannot get enough of it and that’s what we want to be able to do everyday,
L+ T: With there being multiple aspects to REVOLT it seems like creating original content that works on all platforms including television, online and social media is necessary. How will REVOLT effectively accomplish this?
KC: I have partners in this like Andy Schuon, who is President of the network and Val Boreland, who is Executive Vice President of Programming and Strategy and our whole mission and mantra is “social by design.” We understand that it’s important to not only get the information, but to also make sure that it’s ready to be consumed and moved around through social media, so everything we do has a social component to it. Of course we’ll make sure content for television is made for television and we’ll do different things for the web and the phones, but at the core of our thinking is the power of the ideas and knowing that we are comfortable that it’s going to be used socially. We are designing it to be used socially and music represents just one of the best tools to reach folks through social media. That’s why when you look at Twitter followers, Facebook pages – all the numerics that speak to social media – music artists are time and time again in the top ten of followers and likes.
L+T: Diddy recently stated that the mission of REVOLT is to “bring kids back to television,” but with the Internet allowing fans to watch their favorite videos whenever and wherever they want do you think there is enough of a demand for a channel that’s dedicated to music and videos?
KC: Let’s first get it right. What Sean [Combs] said was not that we’re trying to bring kids back from the Internet. Sean’s belief comes from the simple fact that as we move towards the future, television will be everywhere. We all believe that television is working to be on every device, on every platform. You’ll be able to see television in a number of places. We’re getting to a point now where you get a tweet or something and you’re able to click that link and go right to video. That process will continue to evolve. I think the point that he was trying to make is that television will be everywhere and since television will be everywhere that our content will be delivered everywhere. The way kids are watching things on YouTube and things like that – that’s not something that we’re trying to get in the way of. We’re trying to participate in that system and to also curate and help put things in order to say “Here’s why this is important. Here’s why you should search out this video. This is something I think you should know about.” I think the biggest role that we can have in music is to help to curate things and help to say this is what so and so is listening to or this is happening in Memphis or California or Toronto. As we grow we’ll be able to say what’s happening in London or Johannesburg. We’ll be able to do it worldwide, because music rolls like that. The mission – the way Sean presented it – is television is changing. When Sean was putting the network together a lot of people were like “Why would you want to go into television? Isn’t television kind of dying?” His answer was no, because television is not dying at all. Television is about to be everywhere and that’s where we are about to be.
L+T: How important it is for REVOLT to be viewed a go-to destination for music discovery?
KC: It’s part of our life mission, because we want to make sure that we’re finding folks across all genres of music and that we’re finding folks that are playing all types of music. We want to provide a tool for artists, so if they work with REVOLT they are going to create a conduit between them and the fans. Sometimes you get folks that get hot on the web or they get hot regionally and in getting them to that next level it’s sometimes really about that exposure. Finding new ways of exposure is our job. This is not to say that the established artists and stars don’t need that, but we want to create something where the stars and the ones in development can enjoy the same place.
L+T: Having to stay competitive with not only other networks, but also with online outlets must be pretty difficult.
KC: I think it’s very difficult, because there are a lot of great folks out there that are doing a lot of awesome things. Just look at Life+Times. You have your series with Shaheem Reid. He’s awesome. Elliott Wilson has been killing it, and then he has Rap Radar, which is an important platform for anybody that wants to be truly knowledgeable about what’s going on in hip-hop. You have people like Karen Civil and others who are into music and just do stuff that is incredible, so the important thing to us is to not compete, but to make sure that we are focused and have a unique dedication to this all the time across a number of different music forms. By having that focus and making sure that we provide that opportunity or safe haven for everybody to come. That’s our mission as oppose to trying to figure out who we can beat. We just want to make sure that music is getting to the fans. If Shaheem gets something that is awesome and needs to be discussed we’re going to have it up. We’ll worry about where it comes from first later. The important thing is to provide a home and a platform for the entire community that discusses music. The important thing is getting the information to the fans. We want to make sure that our platform is seen that way.
L+T: REVOLT’s Twitter page continuously engages followers in conversations covering everything from the Trayvon Martin case to what’s happening in music on any particular day. Is fan interaction also going to play a role in the channel?
KC: Yes, I think that interaction with not just the fans, but interactions with the artists and interactions with everybody that is a part of this music world is what we are trying to accomplish. The main thing is to always create that conversation and to always push for that conversation and take it to that next step. There are a number of things that touch society, but they also work through music. You know? Music is kind of like the soundtrack of life and we always want to make sure that we are discussing the things that are impacting what’s being written and what’s being thought. More often than not you will find music running through that.
L+T: Will REVOLT have a TRL or 106 & Park type of show?
KC: Absolutely. We’ll have artists coming into our studios and offer more than just interviews with the artists. We’ll have performances and other things where you go into the studio and get a behind-the-scenes look at some of these different things. So yes, yes and more of yes [laughs]. But we’ll have this everyday. This is what we do, so we want to make sure that we’re doing music and we’re talking about things as they relate to music and how different things happen. That’s what our dedication is. That’s what our passion is. We just want to reach everything from R&B singers to hip-hop to different forms of reggae to alternative to all the different things that are banging that are important to the audience that. That’s what we are going to be.
L+T: How helpful has it been having such a cultural icon like Diddy, who has such an understanding of music, the world of entertainment and what’s “hot” leading the charge for the REVOLT brand?
KC: It’s passed “helpful.” I think what he does probably more than anything else for us is he sets the bar. He sets the bar as far as a work ethic, as far as for marketing and implementation, as far as for how we make sure we’re on top of things. He creates a demanding environment that requires hard work and excellence. This is something that he has taken seriously and not by his words, but by his actions. That’s the most important thing.