Cable net connects music to action sports
As it turns out, the 18- to 24-year-old male demographic so coveted by film studios is considered equally crucial to record labels.
Reaching it effectively can prove just as elusive. Enter Fuel TV, the 24/7 action sports lifestyle network that is seen in 30 million U.S. households and caters largely to males on the cusp of manhood.
Since launching in 2003, music has been considered an integral aspect of the programming for the Fox-owned cable channel, thanks in large part to music supervisors Daryl Berg and John Katovsich. The pair, who have nearly two decades of music supervision experience between them, recognize the crossover appeal between action-sports enthusiasts and music lovers, and incorporate music into their programming whenever feasible.
“Music is everything to kids, particularly action sports kids, and it’s a guider of youth culture,” says Berg, who also handles music licensing for the channel. “Typical action-sports kids are more aggressive in pursuing their own kind of music and not necessarily following trends.”
In addition to using music by artists ranging from the Dodos to Thievery Corporation as the backdrop for footage of skateboarders and surfers tearing it up, Fuel TV features exclusive live performances on its flagship daily program, “The Daily Habit,” as well as “Check 1, 2,” a half-hour show dedicated entirely to music.
“It’s a film documentary about bands we feel are connected to our demographic and our kids,” Katovsich says of the program, which is filmed on location while the bands are on tour or in their hometowns.
The duo takes an eclectic approach when selecting artists to feature. Hard-edged rockers Every Time I Die and Wolfmother have performed, as well as rappers Lupe Fiasco and Common, indie rock purveyors MGMT and Santigold, and elder statesmen Perry Farrell and the Buzzcocks.
“It’s not the stuff that’s being shoved down kids’ throats,” Berg says. “We try to present music that they’d be organically into as opposed to saying, ‘It’s being played on the radio 50 million times so it must be what kids want.’ ”
Katovsich concurs: “We believe our (viewers) are open-minded to music so we’re going to take a chance on a band they might not have heard of but we think they might be into because they’re into exploring music.”
When Australian rockers Wolfmother came knocking, Berg and Katovsich knew it was a natural fit. They asked the band to do a week-long residency on “The Daily Habit” in October to coincide with the release of their sophomore album, “Cosmic Egg.”
“A band like Wolfmother has a tremendous amount of support in the skate, surf, snowboard and motocross communities, and Fuel TV is a great way to reach them,” says Wolfmother’s manager, Cory Brennan. “They treat bands very well, they have a cool stage to perform on and they made Wolfmother feel very comfortable.”
Brennan points out that the band was able to indulge in a seven-minute version of its song “White Unicorn,” which would never have flown on network TV. More important, he says, he’s “definitely noticed an increase in website traffic, online streams and singles downloaded on iTunes as soon as an episode airs.”
The program has come a long way since its early days when Berg had to “scratch and claw” to get musicians to perform on the show. Now their West L.A. soundstage is a regular stop for a number of name artists, with Gwar, Cold War Kids and Wale on deck for upcoming shows through December.
“As long as it makes sense we try to make (Fuel TV) part of the marketing plan for our bands,” Brennan says.