For almost three decades, MTV has helped bring U.S. pop culture to a global audience, exporting videos from Madonna to Lil Wayne across the globe. But with its new program, "The MTV Iggy Show," and its new Iggy branding, the network plans to reverse the trend.
"What we've done traditionally in the past at MTV is we've taken versions of MTV and customized it to local audiences (internationally)," said Nusrat Durrani, MTV World's senior vice president and general manager. "What MTV Iggy is about is about global pop culture and global pop music, which actually is borderless. ... MTV is bringing the world to America."
"The MTV Iggy Show" will debut Monday mtvU, and segments of the show will air on all of its networks, including MTV2 and MTV, as well as on its website. The half-hour weekly show will include videos and dispatches from around the globe. In addition, a new website, MTVIggy.com, includes videos, performances and other content from worldwide artists. MTV also plans to promote its Iggy brand — no connection to rock legend Iggy Pop — through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
"Our audiences are discovering music now because of digital technology and social music. They're connecting from artists from faraway places. Frankly, we think that America could benefit from understanding the world a little bit better, and music is one of those windows. So what MTV Iggy does is provide America with a window to view global pop culture through," Durrani said.
While Iggy content will feature bands from Korea, Pakistan and other countries where English is not the native language, Durrani said that shouldn't prevent American audiences from connecting.
"When Lady Gaga performed in China ... not every Chinese kid understands English. They respond to the imagery and to the whole sort of package that Lady Gaga represents, for example. I think the reverse can also be true," he said, noting that a recent Iggy taping in New York attracted an audience of about 3,000 for a Korean act.
"We need to be a little bit more open, frankly. Why should we expect the world to always respond on our terms?" he said.
MTV is kicking off its Iggy brand with a contest that will crown the "best new band in the world" on Nov. 10.
Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the AP's music editor. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi