Aux Music Television lets brands press play

Canada's first Internet broadcaster unveiled its new music channel's program lineup last night with 24 customizable, brand integration-ready series available online, on mobile and now on specialty digital television.

On a dark corner stage of a Kensington bar in Toronto last night, Internet broadcaster GlassBox quietly announced what may very well change the face of music programming in Canada.

Unveiled at an exclusive live webcast launch event featuring a performance by Canadian indie rockers Moneen, Aux’s new music television programming lineup – set to air on Rogers Digital VIP (channel 107) next Thursday – spans 24 music series targeted at the 18-to-49 demo, ranging from half-hour to hour-long eps, as well as films and docs, all with fully customizable, brand integration and sponsorship possibilities.

The multi-platform music channel’s expansion to TV, announced in June following CRTC approval for a category 2 specialty television license, will be available to Digital VIP subscribers – a million in Ontario – at no extra cost. The programming is also available on mobile through Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility, and online at where entire episodes from all Aux series will be posted after they air on television.
Viewers can comment in real time via text during each block of Aux Interactive Video Flow – full-length dance, rock and hip hop music videos slated to play in packs during themed music video blocks.

‘We’re a media company, we need advertisers and we’re going to try to work with great bands in innovative ways to do things,’ co-CEO of GlassBox, and Aux founder/president Raja Khanna,’ told the crowd, adding ‘it’s really interesting timing that there’s not a lot of choice for brands now to advertise on music related channels. We’re going to make this an ad-driven network and we’re going to do innovative things with brands to get them involved in this music culture.’

‘The interesting thing about Aux is that we own so much of the programming,’ Khanna later tells MiC. ‘Because we’re producing all these shows all the time, if a brand wants to integrate or get involved in anything or do a branded segment on the show or do custom content, we can turn that around in a matter of weeks, and integrate them right into any show because we own them all – all the core prime-time show other than the two that we’re acquiring are in-house productions.’

And why Rogers specialty? ‘That gave us the most desirable initial footprint, with all of greater Toronto, southern Ontario, from Kitchener to Newfoundland - that’s where we’re based so it’s ‘start at home, and expand,” says Khanna, adding that Aux plans to launch across Canada on all other carriers as well in the future.

The Aux Music TV lineup, which launches Oct. 1 with a Canadian premiere of never-before-seen footage of a basement recording session by Radiohead at 10 p.m.,  includes a number of new original series including Hard, airing Wednesdays starting Oct. 14 at 10 p.m. with half-hour eps thrashing their way through the world of hardcore metal, alt, punk and screamo acts, each comprised of three doc-style band profiles and a featured music video.

Airing Saturdays starting Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. ET, hour-long eps of Aux Weekly spans the week’s roundup of music news with hosts Andrew Alba, Barry Taylor and Lavonne Allen.

On Tuesdays starting Oct. 6 at 9:30 p.m. ET, half-hour eps of Aux Chart break down the week’s top 10 music videos, followed by half-hour eps of Talk Show Night at Juicebox Manor with host Sam Sutherland and his mix of band performances, random antics and cheeky banter from the comfort of his own home, alongside his best bud, Justin Taylor.

On Sundays at 11 p.m. ET starting Oct. 4, hour-long eps of Aux Live give viewers raw concert footage of acts like Thunderheist, The Stills and Still Life Still.

New exclusive imports include Later… with Jools Holland, airing Mondays starting Oct. 5 at 10:30 p.m. ET. The half-hour eps have the U.K. music legend hosting the showcase series and features musical groundbreakers – rising and established – who come together in the same studio to perform separately and as a collective, including Franz Ferdinand, The Who, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Taj Mahal, Lily Allen, Depeche Mode, Metallica and Thom Yorke.

The roster also includes the world television premiere of Soft Focus, airing Tuesdays starting Oct. 6 at 11:30 p.m. ET with half-hour eps hosted by musician and author Ian Svenonius, who interviews luminaries like Terry Hall of the Specials, Henry Rollins of Black Flag, Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays, Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, and Mark E. Smith of the Fall at the Guggenheim in New York and the ICA in London.

Premiering Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. ET, hour-long eps of Classic Albums looks at the making of music’s most compellting rock and pop albums, and features in-studio interviews with performers and industry veterans.

Premiering Saturday Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. ET, two-hour long eps of Aux Box Office feature cult classic films and contemporary favourites, and on Saturdays and Sundays, starting Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. ET, the two-hour Aux Docs has documentaries on musicians and music scenes that had a beat.

Other Aux original series include MasterTracks, Band Foto, ExploreMusic with Alan Cross, Cypher, Strange Notes hosted by George Pettit of Alexisonfire, Camera Music, Volume, Alt.Sessions, Exclaim! TV’s Garageland, and CBC Radio 3′s R3TV.

‘Aux is an effective way to reach a distinct audience that is completely immersed in quality music content across all of our media platforms,’ says Ryan Fuss, director of sales, GlassBox Television in a recent release. ‘Aux is truly redefining the scope of possibilities for marketers and their brands across Canada.’

Ad opps span traditional TV commercial spots (from five to 60 seconds as well as long form), as well as show-specific integrated sponsorships (i.e. TV, online, mobile, VOD); regional and national event sponsorship and integration; on-screen, in-show animated messaging (customized animated ‘bugs’ anywhere on screen); in-show branded integration across all platforms; and custom branded series.

There’s also network integration (e.g. ‘Aux is powered by…’), host integration (i.e. on-air/online mentions), integrated contesting and promotion, in-show product placement and in-house commercial production.

Online, there are traditional ad units, pre-roll, post-roll, overlay ad units, site-specific sponsorships and show-specific online sponsorships.

There’s also an X3 Live, and Aux, Exclaim!, and CBC Radio 3 partnership that provides marketers with experiential media programs spanning online, event, radio, TV, and print mediums.

‘On behalf of clients, we seed and feed branded entertainment content across sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or wherever else the target demo calls home. This allows the demo to consume and share the content with their peers resulting in controlled viral distribution and infinite added value for the advertiser,’ says Fuss.

Advertisers currently on board with Aux’s TV and online platforms include Dr. Oetker, Molson, Eska, WestJet, Honda, Harvey’s, Bacardi, Old Spice, Globe & Mail, Coca-Cola, Alliance Films, Schick and Honda Indy.