What’s happened to you BET?

You guys hear this one today? Justin Bieber is up for a BET Best New artist award. Congrats Justin! (Canadians actually should feel some what proud here, as fellow Canadians Mr Degrassi Drake and Melanie Fiona are also up for awards) Now I am not going to go into a whole anti-Bieber post here because  I am sure there is enough of that type of talk around for you to find if thats what your looking for, but I am going to say a little something about BET and the road they have been traveling on now for a number of years. And for me to say that, I need to first talk about what BET USED to be…

BET was never perfect. But I remember that a few years back I would always tune into BET and check out the top 30 countdown once in awhile, depending on who they had hosting it. I stayed up late at night and watched classic videos on BET Uncut like Mighty Casey’s “White Girls” or legit classic video  “Hell Yeah” from Dead Prez. I tuned into 106 & Park most days back when Free and AJ were holding it down. And it was never perfect.

But it wasn’t that bad ether.

Now though, BET is just another channel on the dial for me. Just one of a couple hundred that I never watch. I don’t even know if those two kids that have been hosting 106 for the past few years are still even the hosts! (I do remember her freaking out on him on air though, that was funny) I know that Mo’nique has some talk show at night, but do they still even air any music videos AT ALL besides 106&park? As the years passed, it just became less and less appealing for me, and become geared for someone else. Damn Kids!

The bottom line is that BET decided to market themselves to a teenage demographic with the goal being to make money and not to make quality television. And sometimes dumbing things down is what makes more money. So that’s what BET did. They went from decent quality, where they paid some respect to the artistic side of the culture they represented, and switched (or at least went “all in”) to the MTV format of appealing to teenagers only. And if that means playing bubble gum pop acts like Justin Bieber, then so be it.

If BET was pushing quality, they would have considered selecting acts like Pato Pooh, or Kid Cudi for that best new artist award. Or just gone out and found one of the thousands of talented indy artists that are trying to make a name for themselves by producing quality work. But instead of doing that, they are pushing a guy like Bieber. Look, I used to like Kris Kross when I was a kid, we all liked silly things. 12 year old girls like Bieber, whatever. It’s cool. You will grow out of it eventually. But even when I was a kid, would I have picked Kris Kross for best new artist in 92 over acts like Pharcyde, Redman and Pete Rock & CL Smooth? Ummm….NO. Even then I understand Kris Kross was more guilty pleasure than anything else. So then why is a guilty pleasure for 12 year old girls like Bieber up for a best new artist award over much more talented acts?

Because if Bieber is nominated, then he will be at the show. And if BET can advertise that he will be at the show, that means the 12 year old girls will tune in to watch, which means more money for BET. If you were a company with the goal of making cash, would you want on your show the guy with a solid following of hundreds of thousands of teenage girls? Or some act that is struggling to sell thousands of copies of their debut cd? The struggling artist might actually be BETTER then that guy with the 100,000 deep following, but if your goal is making money, don’t you want that 100,000 watching?

I know I am picking on Bieber a lot here, but this applies to pretty much everything that BET does. They make choices based on cash and not based on quality. It’s a road that MTV travelled on before and a road that Much Music in Canada also travels on, which is the sell-out road. And that road to me means making creative choices for the sole purpose of making cash. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG with wanting to make some money, but I think the way to do it is by making a product with creativity in mind, and not dollar signs, and then sell that product AFTER it’s completed any way you can. Make the money in the marketing stage, not in the creative planning stage.

At the end of the day though, my dream of a quality station with BET is more of a pipe dream then anything. Sadly, the number of people who want to see quality on these stations is much smaller then the all-powerful teenage crowd that follows guys like Bieber and Drake. In tough economic times, you gotta make safer choices. Bieber and Drake are the safer options. And going the “sell out” road makes everything just a little bit easier.

So it might be a pipe dream, but I still want my old school BET back. As imperfect as it was.


About theprogram101
From reading this everyday, you should get an idea about me.

One Response to What’s happened to you BET?

  1. Pingback: Pato Pooh ft. Adam Tensta – Follow Me « The Program 101

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