Meet The Poor Sap Who’s (Probably) Going To Try And Save MTV

Oct 30th, 2006 // 12 Comments

mika.jpgIf 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
Age 40
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.”

BREAKING(ish): And the Tom Freston Replacement Is… Salmi in @ MTV
Atom Shockwave Case Study [INSEAD]
Does MTV Still Rock? [WSJ]


  1. Ned Raggett

    Nickname “Miko Miko Aye Yay”

    I hate him already.

  2. Elaine Chow

    Seriously, who has a nickname that’s longer and harder to remember than his ACTUAL name?

  3. Nicolars

    Only 75% less?

  4. AcilletaM

    Nobody can take all the retarded out of MTv, just not possible.

  5. LRM216

    He’s going to have to windsurf faster than he ever has in the past to pull this one off.

  6. Chris Molanphy

    whether the new Justin Timberlake video airs eight times a day, or merely seven times

    You’ve got this backwards: you’re assuming that there are seven or eight times a day when MTV plays good old-fashioned music videos. There aren’t, and they don’t.

    I know it’s old-school and, y’know, anti-Nielsen for me to say this, but actually making the fucking network about music again instead of the exploits of spoiled “reality”-show brats might give them back some of the karma they’ve destroyed over the past 15 years. I’m under no delusion they’ll ever find a way to make boring ol’ videos work, and anyway that’s now YouTube’s job. But there must be some way to make the programming music-relevant again.

    I know, I’m so cute and idealistic, aren’t I?

  7. Ariata

    I know it’s old-school and, y’know, anti-Nielsen for me to say this, but actually making the fucking network about music again.

    So I take it you’re not looking forward their upcoming wrestling show? Wrestle Society X, a thirty minute ordeal featuring guys that non-wrestling geeks have never heard of (and Sean “X-Pac” Waltman, “star” of the infamous porno “One Night in Chyna”) , will probably hit the airwaves in January. The original plans called for Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society to be their “house band,” but I think those plans have since fallen through.

    Going back on topic, I honestly don’t know if I would want MTV to play videos anymore. It’s not like they’re suddenly going start playing ____ (insert favorite unsung act here) again. Lowest common denominator sells, pure and simple. It’s easy to book, it’s easy, and makes ton of money. Hell, I would prefer the aforementioned “Justin Timberlake eight times a day” compared to the stuff they would be throwing at us.

  8. Paul D

    Wait a second…

    MTV is 25 years old?

    It’s already 10 years too old for itself!

  9. SirLoin

    See, the thing is I don’t even know of any kids that watch MTV anymore. Even the select 14 year olds that I know say “they never play videos anymore.” They all mess around on YouTube, MySpace, and play games. And MTV has about 4 hours of actualy programming a day, and it’s just recycled. I swear, everytime I’ve turned it on, it’s always been the same Toga Party episode of My Super Sweet 16.

    Remember how cool it was back in the days of 120 Minutes, Yo MTV Raps, Headbanger’s Ball and Alternative Nation? Seems like forever ago. Nowadays they would never hire a guy that looks like Uncle Fester, Matt Pinfield.

  10. Maura Johnston

    Wait. That Wrestle Society X thing isn’t a joke? X-Pac??????? Oh my lord.

  11. Paul D

    Nowadays they would never hire a guy that looks like Uncle Fester, Matt Pinfield.

    I remember the first time I saw Pinfield on there. I thought “geez, whose nephew is THIS guy that he got a job at MTV?”

    I soon realized the guy actually knows his sh*t. Best rock interviewer ever, IMO. Probably why he doesn’t work at MTV anymore…

  12. TroubleonWheels

    Don’t hate on Matt Pinfield. Poor guy is doing his darndest to make the VH1 Top 20 countdown rock.


    The very least this guy can do is set Kurt Loder free in a field somewhere.

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