While traditional music TV platforms are diversifying and increasingly moving away from their core product, a German online broadcaster is putting the focus back where it belongs - on the music.
Germany's tape.tv is a personalised online music television platform and was co-founded by Conrad Fritzsch and Stephanie Renner in Berlin in 2008.
The channel is a response to traditional TV music stations, which, in recent years, diversified their content and left music to play second fiddle in the schedule. Fritzsch and Renner created a platform with music as the focus.
Three years on and tape.tv is Germany's third largest music video streaming platform. 2010 saw its user base increase by 1000 per cent and the station now boasts some 2.8 million users. Head of Strategic Partnerships for the station, Achim Matthes, recently spoke to Deutsche Welle about tape.tv's rise to the top, its plans for the future and just how many shots you can drink in an interview.
Deutsche Welle: What did tape.tv see as missing in the current music TV market, and how does it fill this need?
Achim Matthes: Conrad Fritsch and Stephanie Renner, who founded tape.tv, saw a huge lack of music in music television. It was all ring tones and reality shows and no videos, and they thought, hey, where's my music program? So they decided to start their own music TV station, and that's how tape.tv was born.
How is it different to other online music platforms?
For a start, it's highly personalised. When you come to tape.tv you come to "your" tape.tv. There's a digital footprint that people leave with us - what they are searching for, their preferences and what they don't like. Users are essentially building up a user profile and every time you go back to tape.tv, the recommendations become more exact.
tape.tv's layout means commercials don't interrupt enjoying the music
But a platform which saves user preferences and makes recommendations based on that information is not a new concept, right?
No, using an algorithm in this way is not new, but what is new is what we call the editorial intelligence. We have a very large editorial staff who look at the data of course, but what an algorithm can't do is know the club scene, know what is new and have a knowledge of sub-cultures. So that knowledge is also input into tape.tv to tailor the program.
So tape.tv is shifting the focus of music television back to music?
Exactly. And that's what people want. Last year we saw 1,000 percent growth in user numbers, and we now have around 2.8 million people using the site. That's also partly due to the way tape.tv itself has developed. We've moved beyond just rotation videos and into new formats to tell new stories and address the need for exciting music programming. For example The Roof Concerts where we do worldwide acoustic sets on rooftops. Another format is Six Shots, Six Questions; we sit down with artists, we drink six shots and ask six questions!
You mentioned earlier that advertising on TV is often intrusive. Does tape.tv carry adverts?
Yes, we have advertising. It's necessary after all. But because Conrad and Stephanie come from this industry, they have a strong sensibility of what good advertising is. The advertising on tape.tv is designed not to be intrusive. The media player is in the middle of the screen; the ad is placed in the space around it so it doesn't interrupt the video and it can also be interactive.
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You have just signed a deal with the German television broadcaster ZDF. Does this mean you are going to be heading more into program production?
This is exactly the direction we are headed. We're already producing a program, "On Tape," which is a live music program shot in a club setting, and it's very relaxed. That is transmitted live both on ZDF Kultur and on tape.tv, so while we are exploiting new digital technologies available to us, we aren't ignoring linear TV but want to combine the best of both worlds.
What are your future plans for tape.tv?
We want to roll this out in other countries but what we don't want to do is just switch tape.tv on as it is in another country. We want to tailor the service for different countries. Of course there are international trends, but there are also local nuances, and we need to be aware of those. We want to involve our viewers, bring them in and get them as close as possible to the artists and most importantly their music.
Text: Gavin Blackburn
Editor: Greg Wiser
To hear more from Achim Matthes as well as music from the tape.tv playlist tune in to this week's Soundscape 100 on DW Radio!