Aug 23, 2019
MTV’s ‘Push: Artist to Watch’ puts new talent on the VMAs stage.
If you were listening to Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and H.E.R. before they were selling out venues, you may have MTV to thank.
Amid its broader resurgence over the past three years, the brand has increasingly focused on discovering and promoting new talent around the globe. A central part of that strategy was to partner with MTV's global teams on the 2017 relaunch of its MTV PUSH emerging artist program, which highlights a new breakout act each month on linear, digital, and social. This cross-platform exposure—which includes exclusive content, video rotations, song placements in shows, and performances on the PUSH stage—can generate up to 600 million impressions for an artist.
"We believed from day one that this initiative was what we needed."
SVP of Music at MTV
"We believed from day one that this initiative was what we needed,” says Amani Duncan, MTV’s SVP of music. “Now, thanks to our amazing partners, it is successful and an MTV Music cornerstone.”
This access to a huge potential fan base often translates into instant fame, underscoring MTV’s massive reach. This year’s artists include now-household-name Lizzo, Billie Eilish - whose debut album hit No. 1 in its first week of release, in addition to Kiana Lede, Bazzi, and Lauv. PUSH acts of past years have evolved into steady hitmakers, including Hayley Kiyoko, Khalid, JuIce WRLD, and Noah Cyrus.
“MTV, specifically, has always had a new artist or an emerging artist program,” explains Duncan, a nearly 20-year veteran of the music industry. “When I was working on the record label side, we would pull out all the stops to get one of our acts to be part of MTV's developing artist program. The program meant so much because it signified a long-term partnership with MTV. You could really count on them to be with you throughout the duration of the artist's career.”
The brand’s domestic PUSH program was inactive for a few years, but relaunched in May 2017 in lockstep with MTV Latin and MTV channels in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
To mirror the intimate concerts long organized by the brand’s international branches, a Live Nation co-sponsored MTV PUSH Live concert series now animates New York City’s Chelsea Music Hall.
Plus, last year, MTV introduced a PUSH Artist of the Year category at the VMAs. Reigning PUSH Artist of the Year Hayley Kiyoko will present this year’s award at the VMAs on Aug. 26, beginning a passing-of-the-torch tradition among young, brand-sponsored talent - and emphasizing MTV’s connection to youth culture.
“MTV has always been a place of discovery,” says Duncan. “It’s the place where you can find what's hot, what's new, what's developing, what's emerging. Those are the tenets of MTV.”