When Vice launched Noisey back in 2011, the ambitions for the music were relatively low: It was announced as an online music discovery platform with a focus on live concert videos. A partnership between Vice’s branding agency Virtue and Dell, Vice’s creative director Eddy Moretti described the site at the time to Billboard as “an interactive magazine” done right.
Five years in, “interactive magazine” isn’t how Noisey bills itself anymore. Vice describes it as “the first truly multi-platform music channel on the planet.” It was the first show brought to Viceland for linear content, an online channel for digital content, and a weekly show on Apple’s Beats 1 for radio content. The company touts how big Noisey’s YouTube channel is–at 1.6 million subscribers, it boasts that it tops Rolling Stone, NPR, Pitchfork, Spin, and Fader combined. It partners with brands from Converse and Vans, to Hennesey and Adobe, to produce video content. And, according to editor-in-chief Eric Sundermann, it’s really still just getting started.
“Over the next few weeks, we’re launching more shows for our YouTube channel. We’re doing a new Q&A interview series with one of our editors, Kim Taylor Bennett, called Q&A with KTB, where she’ll be doing these Charlie Rose-style in-depth interviews. We’re launching another series called Noisey Shreds that’s a take-off on our Noisey Raps series, but with metal, with our editor Kim Kelly, who’s never been on camera before,” he says, listing two of the new shows that are premiering along with more than 75 new pieces of audio and video content.
The journey to this point has been efficient. “It was a weird site back in the day, where it was kind of like a side-scrolling thing, but then it evolved into being the music vertical of Vice,” says Sundermann, who joined the site in 2013. “And then in the last three to four years, we elevated our brand from being just a music blog within the network to what we have now–TV on Viceland, and a publication in 15 countries.”
To get there, Noisey had to find its voice. Vice has always had music at the core of the brand, and being the musical identity for a legacy brand like Vice is a big responsibility. Sundermann looked at ways to be not just irreverent, but to use music as a way to look at things far outside that narrow world.
“We were unafraid to take a fun approach, where we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but still tell stories that matter,” Sundermann says. “We’re using music as a lens to view the world, kind of similar to Vice in that way, where it’s like–here’s a certain perspective that we’ve been able to establish, then how can you process the world through that?”
Within the Vice ecosystem, Noisey leads the discussion about music. That’s something else that Sundermann sees as a responsibility, but one he’s confident the team that he’s assembled is up for. “Vice started as a kind of skate punk magazine, and there’s nothing more ‘music’ than that,” he says. “So Noisey is kind of like the place that people are looking toward to figure out, ‘What does Vice think about the new Kanye West song? What does Vice think about the new Obituary song? What does Vice think about this Lil Yachty thing that’s happening?”
Noisey’s partnership with Dell came to an end a few years into the project, but it’s continued to have a heavy brand presence in the years since. From an editorial standpoint, though, those relationships are pretty laid back.
“It’s pretty simple,” Sundermann says of the way Noisey approaches brand partnerships and collaborations. He cites a documentary series they did called Under The Influence, which used 30-minute documentaries to tell stories about various music subcultures–Kraut rock, or New York hardcore, or 2-tone ska–which was sponsored by Converse. “What we do is we make it, and then the brand says, ‘We’d like to put our name on it, and then they put their names on there.”