Record Company Manipulates Results of MTV's "Total Request Live"
August 28, 2001 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Record Company Manipulates Results of MTV's "Total Request Live" Not surprising, really. As much as I loath what MTV has become (there was a time when they played less commercial videos with some redeeming qualities), wouldn't it be interesting to spoof votes and get a video by a interesting group onto TRL.

Watching mindless teens scream for a video by, say, Dream Theater, Dismemberment Plan, or Shudder to Think?
posted by 4midori (52 comments total)
Does anyone else here screw with the MTV2 box block voting? Just click, click, click your way to your favorite video.
posted by @homer at 10:49 AM on August 28, 2001

I'm so aged, I remember when MTV didn't have ANY commercials. Long are those times gone!

Side Note: it completely bugs me that record companies are becoming even more outrageous in manipulating what music people hear and what they don't hear.
posted by merry at 10:50 AM on August 28, 2001

Hold on a moment .... MTV plays videos?? I wasn't aware they did that anymore ....
posted by tobey at 10:54 AM on August 28, 2001

I'm so aged, I remember when MTV played videos.
posted by fpatrick at 10:56 AM on August 28, 2001

Phish fans tried this with a massive online campaign a couple of years ago. It didn't work.
posted by muckster at 10:57 AM on August 28, 2001

i know rage against the machine tried to sway the vote (them, not Sony Entertainment) with their vid for Sleep Now in the Fire, directed by Michael Moore.

really, though, what a pansy load of corporate bullshit. like they don't muscle enough influence on the minds of twelve year old vidiots nationwide, now they're resorting to cheating. makes me wanna never buy music again. but i like music!
posted by whoshotwho at 10:57 AM on August 28, 2001

Then again, I'm also so aged, I remember when music on TV meant Dick Clark and Ed Sullivan.
posted by fpatrick at 10:58 AM on August 28, 2001

. . . or do I?
posted by fpatrick at 10:59 AM on August 28, 2001

When The Box was on cable (it is gone, isn't it?) everyone I knew in the record industry would call to request a video by one of their bands, pay for it, then expense the 900-number call. [The Box was request-programmed. Each video was assigned a number, so you'd just call a 900 number, punch in the number code, and be billed a couple of bucks].
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:17 AM on August 28, 2001

After years and years of careful deliberation, I came up with a solution that works in regards to MTV. I stopped giving a fuck. It's horrible, vacuous television, and even wasting the time worrying about it isn't worth it.
posted by almostcool at 11:21 AM on August 28, 2001

MTV plays videos?? I wasn't aware they did that anymore

The first 3,000 times someone said this, it was witty - now...
posted by owillis at 11:23 AM on August 28, 2001

If placing a cookie on a user's machine is their idea of "secure online voting" then they should expect people to vote multiple times.
posted by Witold at 11:23 AM on August 28, 2001

a campaign like this actually worked for a new kids on the block video sometime last year. and yes, it got played.

the box has been merged with mtv2, mo.
posted by maura at 11:31 AM on August 28, 2001

hrmmm.. sounds like an easy target for some Perl manipulation. How does, "Top request of the day is, Black Sabbath" sound?
posted by jbelshaw at 11:41 AM on August 28, 2001

a body of young people being ignored

It's too bad that MTV is not adhering to their original philosophy.

'nuff said.
posted by soynuts at 11:46 AM on August 28, 2001

carson daly = rodney dangerfield - bob sagat
posted by daragh at 11:47 AM on August 28, 2001

Wow Maura, I remember that campaign but thought it failed (aka. MTV refused to play the video) . . . thanks for the update.
posted by alana at 11:49 AM on August 28, 2001

"It's like I'm a bartender. Someone wants a Zima, and I might think it's kind of an iffy drink, but -- you know what? -- I'm gonna give it to him in a cold glass and hope he gives me a nice tip." -- Carson Daly
posted by kathryn at 11:53 AM on August 28, 2001

Can we say "Go Muchmusic!!"??? Thank god for digital cable and Canadian music television. Bring on the Vengaboys and Nickelback!
posted by gloege at 11:55 AM on August 28, 2001


MTV plays videos?? I wasn't aware they did that anymore

The first 3,000 times someone said this, it was witty - now...

Since when did you become the judge of what is funny and what is not? If you don't like something, why take the time to make a snide comment?

Even better, why don't you go fuck yourself .... Oh, perhaps you don't like that comment either ....

The problem with this place is the amount of self-righteous web geeks who feel they can decide what is a "good post" and what isn't. This is pervasive throughout the web .... and it sucks.
posted by tobey at 11:57 AM on August 28, 2001

Subvert TRL
posted by pup at 12:03 PM on August 28, 2001

A similar online voting fiasco happened a couple years ago with the I Wanna Be a VJ contest, thereby electing Jesse Camp. You think they would have learned.

If we're putting in votes for bands we'd like to see, I say: The Upper Crust!
posted by cowboy_sally at 12:04 PM on August 28, 2001

Cowboy- I actually own Jesse Camp and the 8th Street Kid's only album they put out, how's that for being a sucker? Where the hell is my record contract?
posted by remlapm at 12:06 PM on August 28, 2001

Tobey? Son? Get a grip. One could just as easily say that your comment was merely made for snide-ness sake.
posted by Avogadro at 12:09 PM on August 28, 2001

Hey Avogadro, who the hell are you calling son? Mind your own business.

I'm on a personal mission to get thrown off as many blogs and boards as humanly possible, so please leave me to my work ....
posted by tobey at 12:17 PM on August 28, 2001

uhm... what's the matter with Shudder to Think, anyway?
posted by fabrizio at 12:17 PM on August 28, 2001

The problem with this place, Tobey, is the witless zit-poppers pervasive throughout the web who say anything that comes to mind without hesitation, probably a result of having parents who were proud of their brat for finally speaking at all. Having something to say, Tobey, is no longer a novelty. Having something witty, interesting, or intelligent to say is.

So far you're zero for three in this thread, and zero for six on Metafilter overall.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:35 PM on August 28, 2001

MTV has to use sex (visual) to sell music (audio only).

Roll that around in your head.

I think the equation goes like this.

(Art+$$$)n/C=(Crap+sex)b=$$$+suit pocket

C=Total coporate greed+sleazy dealing
n=Size of target audiance.
b=teen brainwashed to want to buy that crap
posted by fuq at 12:41 PM on August 28, 2001

Nothing's the matter with Shudder to Think. But I believe they broke up. I want to see the looks of the faces on mindless teens when they see a video for "Baby Drop", for example.
posted by 4midori at 12:43 PM on August 28, 2001


The subverttrl site doesn't work, needs an update.

Great idea, though.
posted by 4midori at 12:48 PM on August 28, 2001

Does the Plan even have videos?
posted by mrbula at 12:49 PM on August 28, 2001

as much as i loathe the refined sugar equivalent of cable television ("rot yer teeth, rot yer mind, cucaracha" as my mom used to say), i am a total sucker for their Real World Marathons.

i'll admit, my addiction started in college, when my alcohol-addled mind needed distraction and relaxation. who ever decided to run this dreck nonstop on Saturdays was a programming genius.

damn that bunim/murray!
posted by brigita at 12:49 PM on August 28, 2001


Actually, it's perfect democrary - The tyranny of the majority. The majority just like listening to utter drek.
posted by hadashi at 1:15 PM on August 28, 2001

the plan made a video for 'gets rich' i think, mrbula.. at least thats the only one i know of- not like ive seen it :(

but yeah, if you click click click on the mtv2 control freak website you can, almost always, get the video you want to play during the live voting. even if your best choices are mystical instead of limp bizkit, though sometimes they will throw in a gem like jeff buckley or janes addiction and you miss the video before it as you frantically click and refresh the voting page. seeing percentages add up in your favor by your clicks is oddly satisfying.
posted by c at 1:21 PM on August 28, 2001

Subverting TRL would be a waste of time. So an "interesting group" gets played on a not-so-interesting show and network. Big whoop. It may very well make the "interesting group" not-so-interesting. TRL/MTV is infectious that way.
posted by jacknose at 1:29 PM on August 28, 2001

Tried as I might, MTV repeatedly has ignored my requests for Aphex Twin's Windowlicker and Come to Daddy videos.
(Not work safe, unless you happen to work in a tattoo parlor or a meat processing plant).

It's probably because MTV banned them both from airplay due to "disturbing content."

As far as I'm concerned, it's just "_TV"— the "M" now stands for "Meaningless."
posted by Down10 at 1:35 PM on August 28, 2001

I remember something called "The Box" that was basically nothing more than requested music videos. You could call for a music video and see it aired later on due to popular demand. I'm not sure it was a complete hit, as I no longer see the service on tv anymore...but it had the same premise as what you would expect from a radiostation for call-in requests.

The problem with this type of programming now-a-days, at least in my opinion, is that back then I think more people requested the song to hear it rather than watch the video. Today, you hear the song you want without putting up with all the commercial B.S. through the abundance of availability online. Back then, it was a treat if your favorite song was, you get it roughly when you want it....then in my case, overplay it and move on to something else.
posted by samsara at 1:45 PM on August 28, 2001

weren't we all mindless 14-year-olds, though? i mean, someone mentioned Ed Sullivan, which my parents used to watch...we all thought that the music of the previous generation was too outdated to listen to. i'm not *defending* Mtv, per se, but it's completely logical that it moves with the tastes of passionate it is logical that pre-teens ignore good OLD music. and this is just a gross generalization, a nice stereotype, there are always exceptions.
posted by tewedle at 1:59 PM on August 28, 2001

tewedle- I would only add that for the most part pre-teens and teens are also the only ones home at 4pm to watch the show ( your housewife/unemployed/college stoner/etc joke here ).

MTV is damn smart, they realized very early on how much pocket-money tweens have these days, and they have tapped into it. Don't fault MTV for wanting to make money, when was the last time you gave money to PBS?

Don't like it? Don't watch it, it's not aimed for us anyway.

*side-note* I work 4 blocks from Times Square, it still gives me a thrill to walk through the TRL crowd outside the studio holding their "Eminem I love u" signs. 17 year old girls in tank tops, nothing like it. Of course, I could walk around the corner to the NBC Today show studios and see the same group (twenty years later) holding "Jimmy Buffet I love U" posters. Take your pick which is worse?
posted by remlapm at 2:10 PM on August 28, 2001

The trouble now isn't that MTV doesn't play videos. It's that they play only thirty seconds of each video. Maybe I'm giving the Kids of America too much credit, but why the heck don't they get annoyed at seeing their "favorite video" for only a moment while text scrolls across it and other teenagers they don't know pop up to say "I requested the new DuJour video because they are so hot and so fine and daaaaamn! WOOOOOO!"
posted by kevspace at 2:17 PM on August 28, 2001


stolen comment number 2 today.

thanks pup.

damnit, i DEMAND 'tunak tunak tun' on TRL!
posted by jcterminal at 2:18 PM on August 28, 2001

Guys, I would be extremely surprised if anybody programming TRL ever looked at the requests, and if they do look at them, they certainly won't do more than mildly influence a decision that was already made.

I've worked at a radio station and it works pretty much like this...

1. DJ: Call me to request a song
2. Person calls, and if the song is on my list of what to play, then play recording of call followed by song
3. If the song isn't on my list of what to play - I'll see what I can do.

Influence the caller had on whether the song gets played - absolutely zero.
posted by willnot at 2:40 PM on August 28, 2001

twedle wrote i'm not *defending* Mtv, per se, but it's completely logical that it moves with the tastes of passionate pre-teens...and reminded me of last night's Biography show on A&E. It was a great 2-hour show about the Brill building song writers of the late 50's and early 60's. (Leiber and Stoller, Carole King, Goffin, Sedaka, Weil, and others that the show called The Hitmakers.)

One of the comments about two of the most successful producers of the time (Don Kirschner was one, the other slips my mind) was that they were so successful in picking hits and so mediocre in running businesses because they had both had "the heart, soul, and mind of twelve-year-old girls."
posted by fpatrick at 3:18 PM on August 28, 2001

I was in high school when the first MTV request show (ancient ancestor of TRL) was introduced. The times that requests were taken was something absurd like 9-11AM. The result was that only stoners whose parents didn't care if they were in school (or couldn't make them go) voted. For a month or so it was the metal hour. Some genius did at least figure out around this time that there was a market for genre based video shows.

Then they changed the voting times. Then they changed the rules on voting so you could only vote for an artist's latest song. And somewhere along the line other rules were imposed. Gee, all of a sudden the top ten requests were all somewhere on "America's Top 20".

My point if you haven't guessed is that MTV votes have almost always been rigged one way or the other. If you really want to know what "real people" want to see video wise (and this assumes that you care!) find some video jukebox show and watch what people pay to see.
posted by ilsa at 3:22 PM on August 28, 2001

I'm so aged, I remember when MTV played good videos, like Slade, Twisted Sister, Aldo Nova, Eddie Money, and those "Closet Classics"... not that mindless no-talent crap that is out there today.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 3:29 PM on August 28, 2001

I thought TRL was like a magic card trick -- pick whichever one you want and you still end up with the one they want you to have. Here in Australia, "Video Hits" only gives you a choice of 20 singles for the top 10 list -- you can't do a "write-in" vote. Since they all suck, there's not much point -- either way the songs are all from the same three or four labels. And as far as I know Channel [V] (pay-tv music channel) has never played any of the unusual tracks I've requested -- If it's not a current top-50 or a previous top-20 they're not interested.
posted by krisjohn at 4:14 PM on August 28, 2001

Funny thing about MTV is that they retire stuff to VH1. VH1 of course has these "history" shows - 100 Greatest Moron Videos of All Time Since the Very Beginning of History - type shows.

Even stranger (apart from the incredibly stupid concept of only playing 30 seconds or less) is that there appears to have been no history before MTV. The most recent effort I saw included a Dylan film clip and that was the ONLY one deemed worthy of existing before MTV was created. I think the himbo/bimbo doing the presentation even went so far as to claim something along the lines of "this was the only video(sic) ever made before the advent of MTV." Obviously, the quote's not exact (apart from the use of the word "video") but that was certainly the context.

Stupidity and ignorance knows no bounds.
posted by Option1 at 8:59 PM on August 28, 2001

Can we say "Go Muchmusic!!"??? Thank god for digital cable and Canadian music television. Bring on the Vengaboys and Nickelback!

Uh, no. MuchMusic isn't so great though I guess anything is great nowadays compared to MTV. They show lots of crap and there's only a couple hours per week worth watching anymore (like 11pm-12am Friday nights). Now the new EdgeTV sounds like it has the potential to actually be worth watching at times.
posted by yupislyr at 9:58 PM on August 28, 2001

Concur with willnot on the disappearance of true request fulfillment on radio. Brad Kava (SJ Mercury News) had a good article a few years ago on this. Basically, well-behaved listeners request songs already coming up on the playlist.

Also, some/many of the prank phone calls (e.g. "hi, we're the police, we arrested your wife this morning" ha ha) are simply scripts and tapes with the "caller's" voice alternating with blank spots where the dj should speak. Probably just as well.
posted by kurumi at 10:17 PM on August 28, 2001


not the most original concept, but videos are certainly being played. too bad most of them rot.

what about country music television? the context of their videos are absurd because they look and play like videos from the 80's on mtv. but again, lots of videos. same goes for bet (in the daytime hours).

mtv, it's imitators, and the record industry still make futile attempts at genre labels too. this is sad because it all just turns into one big oozing mass of blah. one big happy format that never strays from it's prescribed position.


i stopped tolerating it years ago. i listen to all sorts of music: rock, hip hop, jazz, eclectic noise...whatever. i just have to like it. and i watch roughly zero videos on mtv or the like now. of course, since you don't have to watch an entire video anymore for it to count as a video, i suppose zero isn't exactly accurate.

mtv used to be fantastic, but that was so very long ago that i can't remember when that ceased to be. and i'm barely out of their demographic.

and i've known mtv long enough to have often pondered, "how many videos does journey have, and how many times do we have to see them?"
posted by basmati at 12:31 AM on August 29, 2001

MTV died after the 80s... it was all downhill after that.
posted by kingmissile at 6:39 AM on August 29, 2001

If I remember, The Box admitted that record companies had the right to call up and request videos, which may explain why Cash Money Millionaires were played so much. Anyway, the TRL thing is an old story. The author of the article seems a bit naive about corporate-run television shows...
posted by zedzebedia at 8:20 AM on August 29, 2001

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