For MTV, getting back to its music roots starts on Snapchat.
With traffic stagnating at MTV.com and viewership for its television channel declining, the network is in the midst of a reinvention, focusing its efforts on digital by revamping MTVNews.com and getting busy on platforms like Snapchat.
Cory Midgarden, 32, is supervising producer in charge of MTV’s Snapchat Discover channel. He oversees 10 full-time New York-based staffers, all focused on Discover, assembling a flashy and pop culture-centric stream of celebrity interviews, repackaging content from MTV’s website and creating original segments for the channel. (MTV’s London office handles the worldwide channel.)
“What’s cool with this platform is that we’re trying to have a strong presence again with music,” said Midgarden.
Midgarden joined MTV in 2012 as a producer for its news department before sliding into his current role after his bosses heard he’s a Snapchat connoisseur, of sorts. “It’s become a part of my everyday routine,” he said, adding that he uses the app more than texting.
Digiday asked Midgarden to share a journal of what he does on a typical day. Here’s what he does, slightly edited for clarity:
4:15 a.m.: While I’m trying not to make a habit of this, I quickly grab my phone and check our latest edition. Our content goes live on Snapchat Discover at 3 a.m. E.T. daily, and although I don’t purposely wake up, my internal clock has managed to get me up early since we launched Feb. 9. I see an incredibly minor typo. Quickly, I draft an email to have the error corrected but don’t press send in fear of waking someone else up over something so small. Plus, I know the team will give me shit if they see a message from that time of day – and rightfully so.
7:25 a.m.: I wake up before my alarm goes off and immediately check my inbox and social accounts. Not wanting to get out of bed, I post a pic of myself under the covers to my Snapchat story. In honor of today’s “Fuller House” premiere, I type “TGIF” on the photo.
8:45 a.m.: As the unofficial President of the Fifth Harmony Adult Fan Club, I’m super pumped because the girl group have released the first single “Work From Home” off their upcoming sophomore LP. Commuting from Astoria to SoHo, my subway ride is about 45 minutes, which means I easily listen to the song 12 times. Again, I’m crazy.
9:30 a.m.: Toward the end of the train ride, my cellphone picks up some service, pushing all un-received emails through. One of them is a script from Amani Alkhat. The editor-in-chief of the website MuslimGirl.net, Amani has been hosting a series called “Uncovered” – which facilitates an open dialogue about Islam in today’s society through a pop culture lens – that lives exclusively on MTV’s Discover channel.
We’ve been encouraging her to not only educate the MTV audience on the subject matter but provide them with a takeaway, too. She’s clearly been taking our feedback to heart, because this script is dope. Amani is coming in to shoot the piece later that afternoon, and I can’t wait to congratulate her on the great work in person.
9:45 a.m.: I’m greeted by two of my teammates as I walk into the Snapchat pen. Before diving into emails, we watch the “Work From Home” music video – eek! – and a couple of highlights from last night’s Republican presidential debate.
10:15 a.m.: The team briefly huddles to discuss the day’s goals and upcoming shoots. Saturday, Sunday and Monday’s editions are scheduled by end of day Fridays, so we all know things might go a little late.
11:05 a.m.: My 11:00 meeting reschedules, which gives me more time to flesh out the weekend’s rundown. While sifting through some trending topics, a couple of us watch Kelly Clarkson’s heart-wrenching performance of “Piece By Piece” from “American Idol.” I turn to my teammate, and we’re both crying. Pathetic. We crack up hysterically.
1:05 p.m.: Because of a minor conflict, we have to reschedule our “Uncovered” shoot with Amani last minute. After hustling to figure out the new logistics, I rush to a social meeting I’m now 10 minutes late for.
1:25 p.m.: I briefly meet the colleague I was originally scheduled to meet with earlier this morning. She oversees the MTV’s Snapchat story. With more than a million “friends” on the account, we discuss ways we can cross-promote.
1:40 p.m.: My tardiness continues, as I hop on a call with the group that oversees MTV tent-pole events, like the VMAs and Movie Awards. I’ve grown really close to this team and – even though I’m joining them late – break to gush over our shared love for the new 5H single. We then reconvene to specifically discuss the upcoming Woodies and how each team plans on covering the big show.
2 p.m.: What seems like a never-ending block of meetings is finally nearing an end! As a huge lover of live music, I am really excited for this one in particular. We’re discussing an upcoming performance-based series we’re shooting Monday. It’s with the artist MAX, and although it’s come together in just a couple of days, things are shaping up to be really cool.
2:45 p.m.: One of the News writers asks if I’ve eaten yet. I realize I haven’t. She hands me her leftover Chipotle. [Insert angel emoji.]
3:45 p.m.: I’m all caught up with emails and divvying out late-day assignments. It’s now time to check in on everyone’s progress. Sitting just a few feet from the entire team, I’ve seen pretty much every piece of content at one stage or another by now. This makes the approval process pretty slick – very few surprises.
4 p.m.: Although I’m unable to attend, I had the team’s producer set up a brainstorm for a super top-secret Movie Awards stunt we have in the works for Discover. I swing by for just a few minutes to get things rolling and then jet. The room is filled with some amazingly creative people. I leave jealous I can’t stick around to collaborate.
4:45 p.m.: A small group of us gather to discuss our analytics. This platform is so new to us; it is fascinating to learn what succeeds. Although we’ve only been up and running for a few short weeks, the daily data Snapchat provides really gives insight on what’s working.
5:15 p.m.: Before taking on this job, one of my main responsibilities at MTV was conducting artist Q&As. While I don’t get to do this as much as I did in the past, it’s still something I love doing, so I try to make time to do so every few weeks.
Today I’m interviewing Disney star Zendaya. She’s running ahead of schedule, which, like, never happens. You can tell it’s been a long day for the 19-year-old and team – her dad dozes off in the corner of our studio 10 minutes in – but she’s a professional nonetheless.
For Discover, we mostly focus on a personality-based creative. Which means we spent 20 minutes meowing the lyrics to her new single, reciting lines from “Mad Max” and laughing over a whole slew of other randomness.
6 p.m.: I spend this last part of the day arranging and rearranging our content. Everything looks incredible.
6:30 p.m.: The MTV News team is gathering for drinks a few blocks down the street. As they head out, I promise to meet up with them shortly. Which everyone knows is a lie. Not the part about meeting up with them, but “shortly” can really mean anything coming from me.
7:15 p.m.: We’re just wrapping up one last video that’s related to the Oscars. While our video editor makes those finishing touches, everyone else scans the edition. With so many moving parts and even more elements (we post a minimum of 14 pieces of content every day); there are bound to be mistakes here and there. But for some reason, we’re finding a ton today.
We’re in the midst of hiring a copy editor to help us with this moving forward. Based on what I’m seeing at this moment, I’ve never been more excited for someone to start.
8:30 p.m.: Everything is in! I head to the bar where a shot of Fireball is waiting for me. Things are hazy after that. [Insert another angel emoji.]