In a surprising announcement Wednesday, we learned that MusiquePlus, Montreal’s leading music video station, will be going out of business. Group V-media, has decided to pull the plug as of this fall replacing it with a yet to be named channel, targeting a more female friendly audience. “With only a one percent market share, it just wasn’t enough,”said vice-president Dimitri Gourdin executive of Groupe V. In 2014, V bought Musiqueplus and Musimax it’s sister station, from Bell Media. The ratings increased by seventy-five percent for Musimax targeting an older audience. With less video content and more brain numbing reality tv shows, MusiquePlus failed to capture the younger crowd.
Five years after MTV launching out of New York, and two years after Toronto’s Muchmusic, we had our very own video station. First broadcasting from a smaller studio on St Laurent, originally with only an eight hour programming schedule, four hours of content produced in Toronto from Much. People would stay home for a shared experience to see the latest video premier. Now it’s all about streaming on your own time, since Youtube’s launch in 2005. Streaming music services have replaced discovering an artist by accident because you were waiting for your favorite music programming to come on.
Responsible for launching the careers of many Montrealers, it comes as a bit of a shock that it has to come to end. Some may remember Sonia Benezra’s Rock Velours, with the very intimate and interactive interviews with the artists. Or maybe you tuned in on Friday night for Bouge De La, hosted by Juliette Powell, to get a little taste of Montreal nightlife and dance music. Perhaps the most famous was Claude Rajotte, Le Cimitière des CD. A very blunt, honest review of the latest chart topping albums and even favorites that went under the radar. For the alternative crowd there was 1-2-3 Punk with Rejean LaPlanche, having a skateboard on his head, as his name suggest, he would make sure to play the latest in punk and music you wouldn’t always see on regular programming. A hand full of Vj’s are still relevant today, hosting radio shows or having other involvement in many areas of multimedia, some have even made it to Hollywood.
The most popular artists have been by the studios over the last thirty three years, while on tour in our very musical city. Giving fans a chance to see them up close and ask questions, something that just wasn’t possible unless you were a groupie following the bands every move. Over the years St-Catherine Street has been shut down for the crowds drawn. Rolling Stones, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Madonna, Smashing Pumpkins, just to name a few. To the hysteria caused Backstreet Boys or One Direction. One incident involving so many people lining the streets that a van was pushed over A.J Mclean’s foot, a member of the Backstreet Boys.
Even though there will always be a need for a visual aspect of the latest songs, videos will never be the same, with an unlimited budget to make something ridiculous as most of the eighties showed us. Unless you’re one of the top selling artist’s today, it’s more taking inspiration from rehashing of old ideas or just trying to stay on top of trends.
One of the many former MusiquePlus VJs Geneviève Borne, tweeted after learning the news; “If video killed the radio star, then YouTube killed the music-video channel.”
Written by Samantha Morris