Any music-related news that might have emerged today would have a hard time competing with NBC’s announcement that Jay Leno will have a nightly prime-time show beginning this fall, and that it’ll air in the 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Central/Mountain) slot from Monday through Friday. With Conan O’Brien moving into Leno’s old spot and the Roots (and some dude from SNL who snickers a lot) moving into Conan’s spot, it’s worth looking at how the late-night opportunities for musical acts will shake out in the coming months.
According to The New York Times, Leno’s show will likely stay more or less the same as his current one, including bits like “Jaywalking.” While one insider was quick to point out that the show wasn’t going the variety hour route, I would assume that if the show is largely remaining intact, the musical segments would still be a part of things. An opportunity to appear during the last minutes of prime time would be a highly sought-after spot for any band, but is there going to be enough music to go around?
Leno’s program is one of the few to consistently have a musical act nearly every night, although with Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson booked for tonight, I’m not sure their relentless booking is doing us any favors. When Jimmy Kimmel and Carson Daly’s shows were added to the late-night lineup, that talent bookers had to go a little deeper/get a little more desperate to fill time—when there were fewer talk shows, would an act like Crystal Castles have a chance to appear on television? Probably not. While seeing these bands on the air isn’t quite the music discovery service that it might have once been, when your town can sometimes end up outside the touring circuit, you take whatever opportunity you can get to see a band you enjoy.
I wouldn’t expect to see Crystal Castles rocking Burbank this fall, but the pre-newscast exposure should be something labels and acts would be sure to seek. Leno dominates his time slot now with around five million viewers a night, numbers that would already beat three of the five shows NBC rolls out at 10 p.m. now. Leno’s choices are on the safe side already (albeit with occasional Christian-rock leanings, as seen in recent bookings Third Day and Relient K), and the possibility of a bigger audience 90 minutes earlier would seem to only reinforce those sort of tendencies. Maybe the bad news of more middle of the road music in primetime is balanced out by a few more chances for new acts in the insomniac hours.
Where Is Leno Going? To Prime Time, on NBC [NY Times]