Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ukraine's Music Industry (Kiev Pop Culture)

After learning about the Ukrainian pop star Ruslana and her transition to the world of politics, I decided to take a deeper look at the music industry. I was surprised to learn that MTV has launched MTV Ukraine in the past year! The channel kicked off on Friday the 24th of August 2007 with “Tantsi” music video by the famous Ukrainian band Vopli Vidoplyasova

MTV Ukraine features a broad mix of music videos by famous national musicians like Svyatoslav Vakarchuk and international musicians like Shakira. Along with a big variety of music videos and themed music shows, MTV Ukraine also broadcasts some trademark MTV US productions such as Pimp My Ride and Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County.

According to Viacom, MTV’s parent company, MTV Ukraine is set to take Ukraine’s music scene to the next level by providing Ukrainian youth with the best local and international music videos and programming that will reflect their tastes and interests as well as supporting the nations vibrant music industry.

Charchalis, Vice President, Horizon Capital (one of the founders of MTV Ukraine) commented “MTV is not just music videos, it's a lifestyle and we're confident that young adult Ukrainians will make it part of their lives. MTV has influenced entire generations and we're excited about delivering a Ukrainian language version of one of the world's strongest music and entertainment brands.”

It will be interesting to see how the launch of the station affects not only the Ukrainian music scene, but the identity of the younger generations of Ukrainians. Currently, though there are local Ukrainian pop stars, singers often look westward, trying to learn from Western professionalism and to copy the West's musical trends and preferences. Singers don't hide the fact that they want to make it overseas, which isn't always easy to do. Many professionals note that Ukraine's music market is behind in its development because it lacks structure: it's chaotic, with different formats and musical styles still trying to find their places.

Iren Osenniaya, who works in the Ukrainian media, says "the failure of our market is in its primitiveness and its unwillingness to learn from the West. Also, many of our artists don't want to develop their professional skills at all. Ukrainians have never been a people that like to stand out from the crowd, and that’s resulted in a music scene in which many projects resemble one another. But, industry insiders say, as soon as we realize that change is needed, progress will come by itself.”

I found this comment to be highly relevant given our previous discussions of the struggle to develop a sense of Ukrainian identity. While Ukrainian MTV gives these local singers a platform in which to express a unique Ukrainian message, it also brings the influences of Western culture.


Jessica said...

MTV Ukraine? Interesting. What kind of programming does it highlight? Any reality TV shows on MTV Ukraine? What would Ukraniean reality TV look like? How might the broadcasting of American reality TV shows (if any were broadcast) contribute to how folks there view the U.S.?

Illiana said...

I really enjoyed reading your comment about MTV Ukraine. I remember when I went to Petrozavodsk, Russia 2 summers ago how shocked I was that MTV Russia existed (looking back I see that was rather silly, but I guess I thought of it as a "western" channel). Anyway, I can't speak for Ukraine, but MTV Russia was VERY popular. Because of the routine hot water shortage in Russia during my stay (they do municipal repairs every summer) I had to shower at the home of a girl who was my age, and every time I came over for a shower and some tea she would turn on MTV Russia. They have their own version of something like American Idol there, called Fabrika Zvezd, and also their own version of TRL and some game shows! And you are certainly right in saying that "western"-style groups are more popular (you might want to look up the rapper Ligalayz or Eurovision winner Dima Bilan), although the music videos were ALWAYS in Russian (not sure if this is the same in Ukraine). Also, many people my age who knew just a few words of English told me they had learned them from some songs, which is just what you had said!