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Creator / MuchMusic

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The Nation's Music Station

Launched in 1984, MuchMusic ("Much", for short) is one of the first specialty channels in Canada, focusing on music and featuring a number of specialized Music Video blocks and programs about musicians. Hosting these programs were video jockeys, or VJs for short.

It was one of CHUM Limited's signature channels, alongside Citytv and Space. Many early Much programs, such as The NewMusic and City Limits, were originally aired on Citytv; City Limits in particular basically served as a prototype for Much's original format. MuchMusic has been credited with helping foster a vibrant Canadian music scene by providing constant airings of videos by Canadian musicians. The channel created the MuchFact program, as part of its license agreement, to help artists produce music videos.

It was quite similar to MTV in the United States, which did not launch in Canada until the 2000s.note  In fact, MuchMusic actually launched their American spin-off on July 1, 1994, seven years before MTV could launch their first Canadian channel! Originally known as MuchMusicUSA, a joint venture with Rainbow Media (which later evolved into AMC Networks), it was beloved by many for exposing American viewers to international artists from both Canada and Europe. Today, that channel is known as Fuse, after their license to use the MuchMusic brand was revoked in 2001; its original name was kept until 2003.

The success of Much lead to the launch of several domestic spin-off channels, such as the older-skewing MuchMoreMusic (later shortened to MuchMore). If Much is the Canadian MTV, than MuchMore was the Canadian VH1. Its French counterparts were MusiquePlus and MusiMax, originally owned as a joint-venture with Radiomutuel. Their video-centric spinoffs included MuchVibe, named after the program focused on urban music; MuchLoud, named after the program focused on rock music; PunchMuch, an interactive viewer request channel that later became the kids and teen-centric Juicebox in 2011note ; and MuchMoreRetro, a retro music channel that was later re-oriented under the Much brand in 2013.

Since 1990, the channel has hosted its annual MuchMusic Video Awards (or MMVAs for short). Unlike usual award ceremonies that tend to be held in a conventional theatre, the MMVAs are instead a street party around the company headquarters (famously located at 299 Queen Street West in Toronto since 1987). The event has become known for the unique red carpet arrivals of some of the musicians attending. These have included Billy Talent arriving in a 1942 Sherman Tank, Katy Perry giving out ice cream from an ice cream truck, and Marianas Trench arriving in suits in a hot tub and then fighting ninjas. So far, Billy Talent is the most nominated artist with 32 nominations in total. They tie with Our Lady Peace for most wins with both artists getting 10 wins.

In 2006, the channel was sold to Bell Globemedia, owners of CTV and The Comedy Network. In the years since, the channel began airing more non-music based programming. From 2010, Much has aired teen dramas such as Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, and Degrassi (following a Channel Hop from CTV). Then in Fall 2013, the channel began airing more comedy programming, some of which previously aired on The Comedy Network. Such programs include late-night talk shows and original programs from Comedy Central, IFC, and [adult swim]. Subsequently, most of the teen dramas were moved to other networks, while the bulk of the channel's original programming (including Video on Trial and The Wedge) were all canceled by 2014. They've even officially dropped "Music" from their name to reflect this.

As this was going on, MuchMore was relaunched as M3 in Fall 2013. Marketed as a completely separate brand from Much, M3 would all but abandon music programming outside of its daily music video blocks. Instead, the channel became more focused on dramas, sitcoms, and reality shows; most of which were just reruns, encores, or off-network repeats of shows from sibling channels. Less than a year after Bell's purchase, MusiquePlus and MusiMax were sold to Astral Media, but in 2013, Bell would acquire Astral itself. As part of the purchase, both channels were once again sold off, this time to Remstar, owners of the french-language broadcast network, V (which Bell would later acquire in 2020 and rebrand it Noovo). In 2016, MusiMax would outright abandon music programming, re-branding as a general entertainment channel known simply as "Max". Then, in 2019, MusiquePlus would also abandon music programming, re-branding as a women entertainment channel known as Elle Fictions, with its name licensed from the Elle magazine.

In 2015, while attempting to tap into their audience through YouTube and social media, Much would launch their own multi-channel network (MCN), Much Digital Studios; and the Mike on Much podcast, hosted by producer Mike Veerman, Shane Cunningham, and Max Kerman of Arkells. The latter show proved popular enough to be eventually spun out into an original series, Mike on Much in Conversation With..., for sibling streaming network Crave in 2018.

The following year, in 2016, Bell Media sold all of Much's video-oriented spinoffs to Stingray Digital, while M3 was shut down and replaced with a relaunched Gusto TV; a food and lifestyle channel that Bell Media bought at an earlier date.note  Much would carry the drama encores that made up most of M3's afternoon schedule until Fall 2017, when its entire schedule was revamped to focus almost-exclusively on comedy programming. At that point, MuchFACT was no longer a condition for the channel's license and was later discontinued.

In 2019, Much would drop its daily video blocks outside of the "Much Retro Lunch", which was kept for one more year due to modest ratings before being dropped in 2020. Meanwhile, that year's edition of the iHeartRadio MMVAs note  would be ultimately cancelled due to conflicts with the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. No further award ceremonies have been held since.

While the cable network remains as is, a digital offshoot under the "MuchMusic" name launched in July 2021 on TikTok and Much's social media platforms.

MuchMusic provides examples of:

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: To MTV. Much itself had one of these in A.Side TV (formally Aux), a dumping ground for reality and lifestyle programs that airs video blocks in the mornings. There was also Vintage TV Canada, a local version of the British channel dedicated to classic and retro music, though that channel was axed after only two years on the air.
  • Award Show: The MuchMusic Video Awards, celebrating music videos and artists.
  • Broadcast Live: MuchOnDemand and New.Music.Live, the network's former flagship shows, which featured music videos, live performances and interviews.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: From the network's launch in 1984 to about 1988-89, it wasn't a normal cable network. It was in fact a pay-TV network offered as part of a package with First Choice Superchannel (the forerunners to Crave's linear channels) and TSN. This era encompassed the station's beginnings in its' original facilities at 99 Queen Street East in Toronto, and the transition to basic cable channel neatly coincided with the move to the well-known 299 Queen West facility.
  • Large-Ham Announcer: Given that they grew from Citytv, the former flagship of CHUM Television, it was only natural that the voice of that station, the late Mark Dailey, would do voicework for Much during its early years. His deep, baritone voice was instantly recognizable and was heard on countless promos; his voice could also be heard introducing early editions of Electric Circus, and he could be heard saying "20 seconds" during the new intro and theme introduced in 1996.
  • Long-Runners: Much Countdown, which focused on the top thirty (later twenty) music videos of the week. Through many incarnations and revamps, the show was running since at least 1996. By Fall 2017, after being previously reduced from a full-fledged program to an hourlong weekly video block, the program was dropped from television and shifted to an online format. By 2018, the program was canceled altogether.
    • Likewise, the MMVAs were held from 1990-2018.
    • Fromage, which was an annual special, usually airing around the Christmas season, that listed the worst music videos of the year. It began in 1988 and was hosted by VJ Christopher Ward, though Ed the Sock took over in the late 90s, and the show lasted until 2006. There was a revival in 2013, though it was much shorter in length, was not aired on Much, and Ed as parted ways with the network by that point.
  • Network Decay: Worse than what happened to MTV. MTV was able to move away from airing music programming by producing a number of successful reality franchises and documentaries, while Much has become overreliant on imported programming with no originals to call its own outside of a few digital series and specials. Even the MMVAs, one of the network's last major draws, starting to air in simulcast on the larger CTV network before being cancelled in 2019 with no further award ceremonies announced since then.
    • In July 2014, the bottom fell out. The Much division took the brunt of Bell Media's cuts in that month, with 91 people losing their jobs and most of the network's original programming, including a revamped Video on Trial, ending abruptly. These moves came after the CRTC denied license amendments that would have allowed The Comedy Network to air less Canadian content and more animated programming note . Two years later, the music video spinoff channels were sold to Stingray (an operator of Canada's digital cable radio platform).
      • In Fall 2017, the CRTC's new broadcast rules took effect. The CRTC phased out genre protection, the one thing preventing Much from entering Total Abandonment, and removed the obligation to fund music videos from Much's license. This has lead to the axing of the MuchFACT program, with Much now only playing music videos in the mornings. The afternoon schedule has been completely taken over by comedy repeats, though the channel has also added TMZ and more serious fare like Si DES, Vice News Tonight, and a Friday night block of music documentaries called Icons.
    • A similar fate happened to Fuse, Much's former American spin-off, since its merger with NuvoTV. Now marketed as a multicultural network, Fuse, at the very least, continues to produce original programs. However, the network's entire schedule is almost nothing but sitcom reruns and movies, and the network only has a handful of the latter. Their fledgling spin-off network, FM, used to be what Fuse was like before the merger, but even that network eventually fell into decay.
  • We Will Use WikiWords in the Future: The channel's name is one of these; during the Znaimer era, they liked to use this to describe their video blocks ("VideoFlow", "MuchMegaHits", etc.) and other random things. Their various spinoff networks (see above) took it to new levels.