2019 American Music Awards

Vice's Move Into EDM is Latest Step in Wider Music Ambitions

Vice, the self-described "bad boy" media empire, has long had a foothold in alternative media and advertising, building its own in-house ad agency, ad network, film division and, earlier this month, HBO show based on Vice magazine. But a new EDM vertical--THUMP--is at the center of Vice's rapidly expanding presence in music.

THUMP was created in partnership with Recreation Worldwide (a consortium of AM Only and Complete Control Management) and debuted April 17 as a dedicated site (vice.com/thump) and official YouTube channel (youtube.com/thump). The new vertical 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. It's the latest in a series of channels Vice has started on YouTube (Noisey, Vice, Creators Project and Vice Japan), that have accumulated a combined 1.7 million subscribers and 325 million views in the past year. But it also joins a music portfolio that includes Vice Records, a joint venture with Warner Bros. Records; the Creators Project, an event and video program with Intel that recently partnered with Daft Punk for an exclusive video series; and Snoop Lion's "Reincarnated" documentary, which is being distributed by Vice Films.

Vice president Andrew Creighton says 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.

Creighton says there's potential for THUMP and EDM to cross-pollinate Vice's other platforms--including Vice Records, which is home to a roster of primarily hip-hop and indie rock acts like Action Bronson, Team Spirit and Vybz Kartel (although French dance act Justice is a notable exception). "There is a possibility we could create more of an end-to-end solution to artists in the future," he says, noting that a Vice artist-management division has been discussed. "We wanted to start with an entertainment channel, and as we build it out over the next 18 months to two years we'll look at other ways to create 360 solutions to work with artists."

The privately held company, headquartered in Brooklyn, has also attracted high-profile investors like former MTV CEO Tom Freston and advertising titan WPP, with reports of a valuation in the $1 billion range. Currently, Vice's owned-and-operated platforms reach 15 million people per month, according to 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 the end of the year, with THUMP playing a key role in reaching those milliennials.

Some of the stories that will be covered by THUMP include "Sub.Culture," a weekly look at underground dance scenes across the globe that begins with a four-part look at warehouse parties in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood; "Otherworld," which will cover dance parties in far-out places, like Mexican town Playa del Carmen's end-of-days-inspired Zero; and "What Is ____ Anyway?" a weekly series that asks club-goers to describe genres like house, techno, trap and witch house.

And just as THUMP seeks to be a hub for content relating to EDM, so is its mission to create programs for advertisers looking to associate themselves with dance music. Heineken is a launch sponsor of the Arrival, an original video and live event series designed to highlight its new Red Star bottle. Recreation Worldwide co-CEO Josh Neuman has helped create EDM programs for Adidas, G Star and (RED), as well as pair Tiësto 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.


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