Vice, the self-described “bad boy” media empire, debuted a new EDM vertical Wednesday called THUMP, a new digital platform created in partnership with Recreation Worldwide, a creative agency founded by executives from AM Only and Complete Control Management. Debuting both as a dedicated web site (Thu.Mp) and official YouTube channel, THUMP takes a global look at dance music and dance music culture, with original series, documentaries, music video premieres, exclusive DJ mixes, live events and branded entertainment. Jame Friedman, a DJ and co-founder of the Throne of Blood label was appointed publisher of THUMP.
Among the content launching this week is “Dances and Don’t,” a humorous take on the various moves displayed at dance events; “Sub.Culture,” a weekly look at underground dance scenes across the globe that begins with a four-part look at warehouse parties in Bushwick, Brooklyn; “What Is ____ Anyway?” a weekly series that asks club-goers to describe genres like house, techno, trap and witch house; “Otherworld,” a look at dance parties in far-out places like Playa Del Carmen’s Day Zero, which celebrates the prophesied Mayan end of days and “The Tease,” which pairs brand-new tracks with dance enthusiasts doing weird activities in weird settings. THUMP will also host exclusive music video premieres from Tommy Trash, Pretty Lights, Clockwork and Ali Love.
Heineken will also sponsor a program called The Arrival, which will include original video content starring artists like Claude Von Stroke, Just Blaze, 12th Planet and DJ Craze. The Arrival will also be accompanied by live events, the first of which kicks off tonight in Los Angeles, featuring performances by Boys Noize, Cajmere and Destructo. Heineken’s new Star Bottle will be highlighted throughout The Arrival programming.
Vice president Andrew Creighton tells Billboard that THUMP was founded in response to the relative “dearth of media” dedicated to covering the rapidly growing EDM movement and the experiences around it. “We took a deep dive into it to see if there was enough there for us to do what we do well, which is create meaningful and sustainable media channels around it, and as we started digging into the scene we started finding all these amazing stories,” Creighton says.
THUMP is the latest addition to Vice’s ever-expanding media portfolio. In the past 12 months alone, Vice has added four YouTube channels: VICE, Noisey, The Creators Project, and VICE Japan, which have accumulated a combined 1.7 million subscribers and 325 million video views in their first year; acquired British style magazine i-D to create a video-driven fashion vertical; debuted its own show on HBO, “Vice”; signed artists like Action Bronson to its label Vice Records, a joint venture with Warner Bros. Records; conducted exclusive interviews with Daft Punk and their Random Access Memories collaborators for The Creators Project, a partnership with Intel; released Snoop Lion’s documentary “Reincarnated” through Vice Films; added major brand clients like Uniqlo and Garnier Fructis to the roster of its in-house ad agency Virtue; and reached over 200 million monthly uniques to its online ad network, Advice.
The privately held company, headquartered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has also attracted high-profile investors like MTV co-founder Tom Freston and advertising titans WPP, with reports of a valuation in the $1 billion range. Currently, Vice’s owned and operated platforms reach 15 million people a month, says Creighton. But with the Advice ad network, syndication partners and TV shows factored in, the company hopes Vice programming will reach 30% of all 18-to-34-year-olds in the United States by year’s end, with THUMP playing a key role in reaching those milliennials. “Dance music is not a trend or something hot, it’s part of culture today,” says Hosi Simon, general manager of Vice media. “We didn’t want to build something around some flash in the pan or some big artist ore record releases, this is about what people are straight-up into. It’s a new way to spend your evening or unite.”
THUMP is also looking to lure advertisers seeking to associate themselves with EDM, which has become a fast-growing category for brands in terms of artist endorsements (Tiesto, Swedish House Mafia and Avicii are among the acts with major brand deals) and festivals (Ultra, Electric Daisy and HARD, to name a few). Josh Neuman, co-CEO of Recreation Worldwide, has helped create EDM programs for Adidas, G Star, (RED), as well as pairing Tiesto with brands like PlayStation, Armani Exchange and Axe Body Spray, and hopes to bring other partners to THUMP. “What we’ve set out to do is bridge the gap between brands and electronic music culture,” he says. “We’re trying to bring valuable and authentic programs that help our artists amplify what they’re doing and bring something special to the audience that maybe they wouldn’t have any other way.”