How MTV and TikTok Remix Modern Media Experiences

Here's how popular entertainment providers like MTV and TikTok embrace flexible digital experiences to connect with modern audiences.

girl taking selfie at music festival

In the 1980s, video killed the radio stars and replaced them with TV idols. In 2019, video, social, voice and web killed the concept of single-channel star power entirely. There’s a major shift occurring in the content consumption habits of audiences. As television watchers dwindle, social media views skyrocket and users demand to be more involved in shaping their entertainment. Today, media and entertainment organizations are competing for relevancy in a new landscape of rapid innovation and unlimited choice. To keep up, networks and service providers need to embrace an open approach to their technology solutions that’s in sync with the entire consumer experience. 

If No One’s Watching MTV, Why is Everyone Tweeting About it? 

As one of the first networks to focus on the teen and young adult set, MTV has always tried to shock audiences with innovative and unexpected experiences. MTV even played a role in Acquia’s own founding story, when a phone call from the media network to Drupal founder Dries Buytaert sparked the idea for the company way back in 2007! Despite their legacy, the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards had the lowest ratings in the show’s history at just 1.93 million viewers, a drop from 2.25 million the previous year. As viewers leave traditional television-watching habits behind and turn their attention to services like Netflix and YouTube, are the VMAs officially over? 

Not quite. The event has just been remixed as the media and entertainment industry undergoes an explosion of delivery options and devices for audiences to consume content. While the actual number of viewers tuning in to watch the show while it was on air was underwhelming, the topic of the VMAs trended worldwide on Twitter for 12 hours with more than 269 million views of VMA clips and content across social media platforms (an 85% increase from 2018). Sure, while some of the VMA’s legacy may feel uncomfortably out of touch with the times (hello, Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award), the overall interest in the brand’s entertainment experiences is still strong. The context and delivery of these experiences are what changed. People are still as invested in entertainment as they’ve always been, but they’re looking to access that material in new, quicker ways. 

To meet this demand, MTV launched the VMA All Access Live campaign: “a multi-screen experience optimized for web, mobile and tablets to provide fans with exclusive behind-the-scenes looks into the world of the MTV Video Music Awards.” The efforts to broadcast content simultaneously across multiple formats and encourage viewers to participate in the experience via channels like Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram stories boosted social engagement for the 2019 VMAs by 129% over the previous year. 

TikTok Takes the Stage as the Music Industry Focuses on Mobile

New channels and modes of communication are popping up every day and attracting users. Companies need their own technology to quickly integrate with the latest apps or smart devices or they risk becoming obsolete. Take TikTok for example: a video service that’s totally reshaping the way people are engaging with media. It has only been a year since was bought by Beijing-based company ByteDance to launch TikTok: a short-form video sharing app with hundreds of millions of users, mostly in the 16-24 age bracket. TikTok’s appeal is in its endlessly loopable, bite-sized approach to video content and built-in editing capabilities that allow users to instantly apply layers, graphics and augmented reality components onto their content within a single platform.

The customizable power of TikTok has made people’s journey to discover new music much more nuanced than just listening to whatever songs happened to be on the radio at the time. Just having a song in the background of an unrelated video or playing in a YouTube pre-roll can help it reach a massive audience. This was the case for Lizzo, whose 2017 single “Truth Hurts” achieved mainstream success this year after a snippet of the song was featured in a popular TikTok makeover video challenge. 

tiktok app screen
Image source: TechCrunch

Alongside Lizzo, the embodiment of the digital revolution happening in today’s music and entertainment industry is 20 year-old hip-hop artist Lil Nas X and his song, “Old Town Road.” “Old Town Road” first appeared back in February when Lil Nas X inspired the viral #YeeHaw challenge where people uploaded videos of themselves listening to the song and instantly changing into traditional western cowboy outfits. After racking up millions of views and shares across TikTok and Twitter, the song gained unparalleled success and broke the world record for the longest run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with 17 weeks in the #1 spot! 

A key factor in the song’s sustained success and global impact was that people had the ability to experience it across a huge number of channels and formats that felt most relevant to them, whether that meant watching remixed clips on social media, playing the K-Pop remix on Spotify or listening to the Billy Ray Cyrus version on their car radios. Lil Nas X was constantly re-inventing and redistributing the material itself. He also aggressively promoted the song through social media everywhere from Soundcloud to Reddit. This always-on, accessible approach to marketing and content distribution is the kind of unified and flexible experience today’s consumers expect from all of their digital interactions.

The Key to a Flexible, Future-Proof Digital Strategy is Open 

What lessons can content creators and site designers learn from the sustained success of “Old Town Road” and MTV’s move to social media? Digital experiences cannot be one-hit-wonders. Winning and keeping an audience in today’s multichannel ecosystem requires organizations to embrace flexibility when choosing how they deliver digital experiences. An open Digital Experience Platform (DXP) empowers these future-proof digital experiences through an API-first approach that can easily integrate with any third-party tools and Drupal 8 is the ideal solution for building mobile-first experiences, a requirement in today’s streaming, smartphone-dominated world. Powering experiences across any device at any time is what will allow major brands to stay relevant and wanted by their audiences. To keep the attention of younger viewers, media brands and content providers need to embrace a multiplatform approach to entertainment. 

digital experience on multiple channels and devices


Today there is no single dominant channel capturing the world’s attention. There’s an ever-growing ecosystem of channels and devices growing each day that are all delivering content in unique ways. Brands need to create experiences quickly and distribute them everywhere, but they also need to be ready to optimize their content for the next big innovation without getting slowed down by the constraints of legacy technology and vendor lock-in. With an open DXP, developers can embrace a fully agile, omnichannel approach to designing digital experiences that will never feel out of tune. 

Learn more about how to create fully-immersive modern media experiences in our e-book: “Creating Customer Experiences in Media, Entertainment and Publishing.”

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