If this Dealbreaker report is to be believed, MTV will announce this morning that Mika Salmi, the CEO of Atom Entertainment, will be named as the new head of the 25-year-old music-video network. A former record-label exec who claims to have discovered Nine Inch Nails, Salmi has a daunting task ahead of him: To make MTV’s programming relevant in the age of the Web (we’re also hoping he manages to make said programming 75% less retarded).
After the click-through, our dossier on the man who will decide whether to give more airtime to the from Laguna Beach, or the the skanks from The Hills; which suburban brats get to celebrate their Super Sweet 16; and whether the new Justin Timberlake video airs eight times a day, or merely seven times.
Name Mika Salmi
Born Helsinki, Finland
Current Title CEO & Founder, Atom Entertainment
Nickname “Miko Miko Aye Yay”
Relevant Experience A former DJ (and self proclaimed ex-punk rocker), Salmi’s first record-industry gig was a $20,000-a-year stint with TVT Records, where he managed their database and worked the Tower Records account. In 1989, after seeing Nine Inch Nails perform at a club, he persuaded the label to sign them; when TVT wouldn’t offer him an A&R job, he quit, and eventually landed with EMI France and Sony Music International. He also served on the Board of Advisors for HitHive, a now-defunct technology that would have enabled users to share music files on their cell phones.
Irrelevant Experience Taught windsurfing; sold real estate.
You can blame him for… The Presidents of the United States of America and 311, both of whom he helped sign to Sony. Also, even though Wilmer Valderrama’s Yo Momma was created before his tenure, we’re going to blame Salmi for that, too.
Biggest Challenge Nothing short of saving the network: Last year’s Video Music Awards ceremony was the lowest-rated in years, with only 5.8 million viewers tuning into see…what, exactly? We can’t even remember what happened. Meanwhile, the network’s broadcast of Live 8 last summer–featuring frequent poorly timed commercial breaks–earned them no shortage of ill will among music fans, who preferred watching the concert online.
With competition in the form of MySpace, YouTube and even sister network VH1, Salmi will have to decide whether MTV continues its down-market pursuit of asinine reality shows (Made, Laguna Beach, The Hills) or tries to use what’s left of its cultural capital to develop programs that appeal to a wider, non-13-year-old horndog demographic. Good luck with that!
Telling Quote From The Past “When I moved to New York, I hated MTV, so I wrote a business plan in 1994 for a cable channel around short-form content. It was a poorly-written, eight-page plan, and I didn’t know how to start a company or launch a channel; I didn’t know who to go to.”
And the Tom Freston Replacement Is… Salmi in @ MTV [Dealbreaker]
Atom Shockwave Case Study [INSEAD]
Does MTV Still Rock? [WSJ]