Sean "Diddy" Combs, one of hip-hop's first multimedia moguls, and the man who taught me that Benjamin Franklin's face is on the $100 bill, announced today that his fledgling cable channel, Revolt TV, has signed a distribution deal with Time Warner Cable. The channel, which launches in the fall, aims to fill the void left when MTV got out of the music video game.
Diddy spoke exclusively to us about Revolt, the state of music on television, and what music means in the area of ubiquitous online connectivity.
VICE: What sort of content can we look forward to besides music videos?
Diddy: To be perfectly honest, VICE has been a huge inspiration for a lot of the type of content we want to put out there. I feel like we are in an age where technology gives us the freedom to be so artistic, to be fearless, and to be in different places and share different experiences, and that’s what Revolt wants to embrace and celebrate from a musical point of view. I feel like music has gotten safe over the last couple of years. There are artists who need to be seen and heard. The future of music is at stake when you don’t have a platform that can actually help to promote or get the message across or celebrate what certain artists are doing.
When you talk about our content, first and foremost, it’s going to be newsy, from a journalistic standpoint and from a point of integrity. That we have a relationship with the artists—they trust us with their stories, they trust us with their ups and downs. We have no place [on TV] to get that from. When you think of sports, you think of ESPN. Athletes trust ESPN. They trust them with their careers, with their feelings and you know that the reporting that you’re getting is valid reporting. When you talk about news, you talk about CNN, Fox News—you know it’s reputable. There’s no voice like that for music. So a lot of programming is focusing on music. Not just music videos, but we will be playing music videos. We’ll be playing the most music videos on TV. Another thing is we’ll be live, in real time, across all platforms. We will be mobile, we’ll be digital, we’ll be linear, and we will be breaking news and doing our best to be first on the scene, to build our name as the new number-one voice in music.
Is this going to be a cross-genre channel, or will it focus on hip-hop?
Yeah, it’s cross-genre. The world ain’t black-and-white no more. The world ain’t hip-hop, rock, and EDM. Skrillex can do a record with A$AP Rocky. Jay-Z can do a record with Linkin Park. People just want to hear great music. Kanye could rap over a Marilyn Manson sample. It’s music. It’s a very exciting time in music and art. I think Revolt wants to change the world for the better, doing it our way.
Will you have a major presence on the channel, or will you mostly be behind the scenes?
I’m gonna be mostly behind the scenes. For me, it’s about empowering the next generation of creators, of artists, but also, I want to be a teacher behind the scenes. It’s time for me to grow up and teach the things I’ve learned. One of the things that I want to be doing behind the scenes is taking risk. I’m not going to play to the crowd. I’m not saying I’m not going to follow trends, but I’ll always be in search of what’s next, what’s fresh. Me coming up, that’s what music was about. We always got what’s fresh. When we lost our MTV, we lost a part of our soul. We’re not going to be doing what MTV does, but we were born out of MTV, Facebook, the digital age. We’re taking responsibility for our own future, artistically.
Music videos seem to have found a home on YouTube through VEVO and other online outlets. What do you think Revolt will bring to the table that will get those passionate music fans back to television to watch music videos?
This is not just TV. This is the first network that’s built in the social media age. In two years from now, the definition of television will not be the same. When you walk out of your house, you’ll be able to see the same content you see at home. VEVO does a great job giving you the access to everybody. To be honest, we don’t want to play everybody. We want to play the best. We want to curate it and curate it to a level of excellence that is visually thought-provoking, cinematic, emotional, and pushing the art form forward. And that’s a little different than “everybody come and play.” Many are called, but few are chosen. That’s how rock 'n' roll was made. You had to fight and work hard. It’s a gift and a curse with the internet, because you don’t feel like artists have to reach that bar, to strive to break down that wall. Not just reach it, but shatter that motherfucker.
What are you listening to right now?
First and foremost, I listen to a lot of music that makes me feel good. My statement is music affects the way one feels. So, do me right. That’s one of my quotes. To be honest, I listen to stuff from the 70s, the 80s. Also, new stuff that’s out right now: the J. Cole album, Mac Miller, the Daft Punk joint, Kanye West’s album to me is brilliant. I think we’re entering the right time, when it’s like we have a voice, a way we speak, a way we look. We have our own way of doing things. They try to call us “millenials.” We don’t really like that name. It’s really just young adults that were born in this digital age, and woke up one day and realized shit was fucked up. If people don’t wake the fuck up and take responsibility into their own hands, they gonna end up fucked up. I think you see more of that accountability for young people’s futures, and music has always been the most powerful art form that brings us together. It’s an outlet for our stress. The only thing more powerful than music is religion.