muchmusic USA Becomes Fuse

Total Convergence Music Programming “Fuses” Online, TV & Interactive Game Play

Trades Rules of Branding for Radical Playbook of Skate-Culture:
Progressive Logo, Evolving Taglines & Viral Marketing

New $12 Million Street-Front Studio Unveiled in Mid-Town Manhattan

New York, NY, April 8, 2003 – muchmusic usa, a network of Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc., will become Fuse on May 19, 2003. Fuse is an all-music destination driven by viewers, reflecting the rapidly changing interests and irreverent attitudes of its 12-34 year-old audience, and uniting the media platforms that are the center of their communication and entertainment. Central to Fuse’s identity are a progressive logo, changing taglines, and viral marketing campaigns that break the rules of traditional branding, and the Fuse studio, a new $12 million street-front production facility in mid-town Manhattan. Coinciding with the Fuse launch, the company will also debut Fuse On-Demand, a new video-on-demand (VOD) service providing full-length music videos from a wide variety of music genres.

“Over the past several years, the ‘music’ has left music television, creating a gaping hole in the television landscape. Fuse fills that chasm, not only with pure music programming — for viewers and by viewers — but also with an irreverent, self-deprecating attitude and approach,” said Josh Sapan, Rainbow president and CEO. “Kids redefine the rules every day. They are early adopters and style influencers in music, movies, fashion and tech. Fuse keeps pace with them. We adapt as quickly as they do to new attitudes and interests, and we’re ahead of them, showing the newest, weirdest and coolest stuff in music and on the Web.”

“We have worked to craft a programming formula that appeals to teenagers: the ability to choose and curate the music they want, and to enjoy it through an entertainment experience that unites the technology that has become an integral part of our audience’s lives,” stated Marc Juris, Fuse president. “The Fuse brand represents the ‘fusion’ of many platforms – television, online and interactive game play – into one unified music entertainment concept. It’s a convergence programming philosophy that we already live by with shows like IMX: Interactive Music Xchange.”

The culmination of a two-year evolution, the new Fuse brand reflects the experience and success of web- and viewer-driven programming currently on muchmusic usa. Since January 2002, muchmusic usa has been one of cable’s fastest growing digital networks, nearly doubling its subscriber base from 18 to 31 million households (Nielsen Universe, April 2003). The network also enjoys the highest concentration of 12 -34 year-old viewers per household among all cable networks (Nielsen Media Research).

muchmusic usa’s strong youth appeal has led to relationships with premiere brands including media and consumer names like Teen People, American Online, Sprite and L’Oreal, and record labels like Universal Music Group and Sony Music. “With Fuse, advertisers know they are targeting the ‘sweet spot’ of their audience. The network’s multi-platform approach allows clients to strike a deeper, more personal connection with those consumers,” added Corey Silverman, Fuse’s senior vice president of Advertising Sales.

The announcement marks the end of the network’s association with Canada’s Chum, Limited and MuchMusic. In 2000, Rainbow raised its ownership stake in muchmusic usa to 100 percent by acquiring Chum Limited’s 50 percent interest in the network. Muchmusic usa continued to carry content through a programming license agreement between Rainbow and Chum.

Fuse is based around core principles that represent the network’s promise to the audience and illustrate the brand’s personality. Most importantly, Fuse is a curator of music programming. It does not dictate to its audience. The programming is informed and guided by viewer input and direction. Through different platforms, Fuse empowers the audience to “do it yourself”: choose their music, contribute and be heard by the network. Fuse is also inclusive, programming from a wide range of music genres, not just one. And, Fuse has a sense of the absurd, like its audience.

“Ultimately of course, Fuse is all about the music. This is a simple tenet that our competitors seem to have forgotten,” adds Juris.

3 Radical Concepts: Skate-Culture Tactics Appeal to Web-Centric Teens

The Fuse brand will be informed by three radical, edgy elements inspired by leading skate-culture products. Beginning April 14th, Fuse’s launch advertising will appear in cable and advertising trades magazines as well as in outdoor advertising in major markets including New York City. However, appropriate to its audience, Fuse’s primary outreach will be a host of guerilla marketing techniques – street teams, underground parties and online marketing – also commencing in mid-April.

“Our branding strategy is informed by skate culture,” added Juris. “Their most valued brands are constantly changing their logo and style, playing with and usually making light of themselves. When you consistently evolve your look and language, standard elements of communication become more entertaining and work to define the brand, not just identify it. Instead of being wallpaper, the logo and tags actually have some intrinsic entertainment value, giving consumers a reason to return to see what’s new.”

Progressive Logo: Fuse’s rule-breaking approach begins with its progressive logo. While the standard principle for television network branding is to propagate a single, static identity and image, Fuse’s brand building will be based on constant change. While the network name will remain constant, the visual images and typefaces that accompany it will keep changing.

Evolving Language: Fuse will communicate with viewers through a series of evolving tag lines that represent the network’s fresh, unpredictable identity. “FUSE: More music than the leading brand;” “FUSE: Saving the music video one day at a time;” or “FUSE: kicking ass and taking names.”

WTF… What the F***/Watch the Fuse: The final marketing tent pole that will keep viewers coming back to Fuse on-air and online is WTF: What the F***/Watch the Fuse.

“WTF is a promise to our audience that if there is something cool and outrageous on the planet, they will find it on Fuse, online and on-air,” said Juris.

Fuse’s on-air and online content will be interrupted with snippets of the most eye-popping viral videos circulating on the net. The network will create a section on dedicated to Fuse-curated blogging where
viewers can peruse, trade and post the most absurd links and videos for potential use on the network.

Fuse Adds VOD to Convergence Content: Fuse On-Demand

In June, the company will launch Fuse On-Demand, the network’s value-added video-on-demand (VOD) service providing digital cable television subscribers full-length music videos from today’s top recording artists. Powered by cable operators’ VOD technology, Fuse On-Demand will allow users to choose a video whenever they want, stopping, starting, rewinding and fast-forwarding as they choose. Along with videos from a variety of music genres, including rock, pop, alternative, R&B and hip-hop, Fuse On-Demand will also feature special programming from Fuse’s signature shows and behind-the-scenes footage from specials and concerts. Pulling from Fuse’s robust music video library, Fuse On-Demand’s content will respond to viewer input, with updates of new videos on at least a bi-weekly basis.

“Consistent with our convergence philosophy, Fuse is designed to power the growth of digital cable and high-speed services. Fuse On-Demand is the latest addition to the tool box of interactive added-value content that we provide distributors,” said Kim Martin, Fuse executive vice president, Affiliate Sales and Marketing. “Along with Fuse’s strong brand position, this multi-platform approach will attract early adopter teens and young adults to digital cable, and keep them coming back.”

Reflecting the success of this strategy, over the past several months, muchmusic usa renewed contracts with NCTC and Cox, and signed new agreements with Charter Communications, MediaCom and EchoStar, representing a total of eight million viewing subscribers.

NYC Street-Front Studio Is Centerstage of Convergence Programming

Network President Juris unveiled the new branding, marketing and programming at Fuse Studios. The new, $12 million state-of-the-art street-front studio at 11 Penn Plaza in New York City will be the home for Fuse programming, including IMX: Interactive Music Xchange. Following is a look at new and established programming that will dovetail with the network re-branding:

  • IMX: Interactive Music Xchange – Fuse’s irreverent daily show is the first to fuse live television, videos and online game play. Offering a new way to “play” music, IMX empowers viewers to become real-life music executives – picking the newest hits or misses – to gain fictional IMX dollars and win prizes. Think Fantasy Football meets Wall Street…but with rock stars. Telecast live daily from Fuse’s mid-town Manhattan studio, IMX hosts Juliya, Steven, Marianela and Dennis recap the day’s trading while featuring live music performances from the day’s hottest hit makers like The Donnas, 50 Cent and Sum 41. (Weekdays @ 6 PM).

  • Behind the Music that Sucks – An animated parody of the VH-1 series about the rise, fall and redemption of pop stars past and present, Behind the Music that Sucks mixes creativity with humor for absurd results. In June, Fuse will premiere a special episode devoted to the ceaseless tabloid fodder begat by the “King of Pop,” in Behind the Music that Sucks: Michael Jackson.(Fridays @ 9 PM).

  • Kung Faux – This new half-hour weekly series, a collaboration with the new film division of Tommy Boy Records, fuses old school kung fu films with new storylines, hip-hop music and voice-overs. (Fridays @ 9:30 PM)

  • Loaded – Each weekday, a top artist revels in the spotlight, with an entire half-hour dedicated to their music and videos. For the entire month of June, Loaded will focus on a different genre of music every week – from Rock, Hip-Hop and Pop, with “Viewer’s Picks” rounding out the month. (Weekdays @ 4:30 PM & Saturdays @ 6 PM beginning April 2003)

  • ịMarcha! – The only English-language weekly music series dedicated to Latin alternative sounds presents both bona fide stars and new cult favorites from Chile, Argentina, M

Press Contacts

  • Georgia Juvelis

  • Sal Cataldi
    Cataldi PR

  • Rob Shuter
    Dan Klores Communications

  • Artwork is available for download at: