Like the US MTV channel before it, MuchMusic adapted a Top 40 radio format to TV, with on-camera "VJs" serving the function of DJs. In addition to a playlist of pop videos in a heavy, medium, and light rotation that changes from week to week, the station has presented daily segments or weekly shows devoted to country music, heavy metal, R&B, rap, punk, and indie rock. Programming also has included studio and concert performances, interviews, and music and arts news coverage. The rise of online videos has meant that reality TV, entertainment news, and feature films have increasingly become mainstays of MuchMusic programming.
MuchMusic's French-language counterpart, MusiquePlus, established in Montreal with Znaimer as executive producer and Pierre Marchand as director of programming, went on air 2 Sep 1986. Employing a similar format, MusiquePlus has been seen in Quebec (where through a partnership in 1988 with Radio Mutuel it was added to basic cable service, reaching 1.5 million households) and on some cable networks elsewhere in Canada. Together MuchMusic and MusiquePlus assumed a central role in the dissemination and development of popular music in Canada. MusiquePlus's sister station, MusiMax, a French-language adult music channel, was launched in 1997.
In 1984 MuchMusic established VideoFACT (FACT: Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent), renamed MuchFACT in 2009, to provide funding for the production of both English and French music videos. In its first 10 years 820 videos were made with $6 million of VideoFACT support. A similar initiative, PromoFACT, was launched in 1998 to support the creation of websites and electronic press kits. Digital music videos were funded by PromoFACT beginning in 2009.
In 1987 MuchMusic, together with Sky Channel of London, organized the first World Music Video Awards, transmitted live via satellite to five continents; a second show in 1989 reached an audience estimated at 750 million in 45 countries. In 1990 MuchMusic introduced its own annual Canadian Music Video Awards (renamed the MuchMusic Video Awards in 1995).
Specialty Stations and Audience Profiles
MuchMusic launched the cable channel MuchMoreMusic on 1 Oct 1998 to reach a more mature audience. The station focused on contemporary pop, classic rock, soul, reggae, and jazz. Subsequent specialty stations have included MuchLOUD (heavy metal, punk, rap, and alternative music), MuchVibe (rap, R&B, and reggae), MuchMoreRetro (music of the 1980s and 90s), and PunchMuch (an all-request music video channel). MuchMusic programming has been available in the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, Finland, Spain, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Czech Republic.
See also Toronto Feature: 299 Queen Street West.
Author Revised: Janna Whelan
Melhuish, Martin. "John Martin shares Znaimer's video vision," The Record, vol 11, 14 Oct 1991
Cheney, Peter."Rockin' TV sounds off," Toronto Star, 23 Nov 1991
Zerbisias, Antonia. "MuchMusic: 10 years of setting Canada's pop culture standards," The Record (Kitchener, Ont), 30 Aug 1994
Roberts, Mike. "Fingers on the pulse: MuchMusic still strong after 10 years," The Gazette (Montreal), 22 Jan 1995
LeBlanc, Larry. "Quebec's Musimax fills adult niche," Billboard, 18 Jul 1998
Flynn, Andrew. "MuchMoreMellow: Music TV for those who've outgrown MuchMusic," The Spectator (Hamilton, Ont), 1 Sep 1998
Faulkner, Rob. "MuchMusic memories," The Spectator (Hamilton, Ont), 21 Aug 2004
Quill, Greg. "MuchMusic shows its age," Toronto Star, 29 Aug 2009
Links to Other Sites
Rock the Nation
A brief paper that examines various interrelationships between the Canadian sound recording industry, broadcasting community, cultural-policy practitioners, and the CRTC. From the "Canadian Journal of Communication."
MuchMusic vets look back on 25 years of music TV
A CTV News story that highlights the early years of the legendary MuchMusic channel.
MuchMusic shows its age
An article describes how the growth of the Internet has forced changes in the format of the MuchMusic channel. From thestar.com.
MuchMusic Video Awards
Catch all the action at the MuchMusic Video Awards. From the MuchMusic website.
Polaris Music Prize
The Polaris Music Prize site features the latest in award news, online music clips, listings of local record stores and radio stations, and more.
MuchMusic can't cut back on videos: CRTC
A CBC News story about the CRTC's rejection of MuchMusic's request to air fewer music videos in favour of more "lifestyle" programming.