MTV is undergoing a huge revamp to return to its music roots

Nirvana mtv unplugged
Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain during the band’s 1993 episode of ‘MTV Unplugged.’ MTV

MTV is revisiting its roots by bringing back “MTV Unplugged,” along with a new slate of music-centered programming.

“We’re on a mission to reignite MTV with everything that makes it one of the world’s most iconic brands — its soul of music, its love of pop culture, and its unexpected, groundbreaking creative,” MTV President Sean Atkins said in a statement ahead of the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers on Thursday.

“What we share today is just the beginning,” he continued, “but it’s a strong first step in the journey and shows how aggressively we are moving to energize the extraordinary promise of this great brand.”

The Viacom network is ripe for reinvention. As Business Insider previously reported, MTV, which built its reputation on reaching young people, has been failing to connect with its target audience.

“MTV Unplugged,” which featured artists performing stripped-down acoustic versions of their hit songs, premiered in 1989 and last aired in 2014. A wide array of artists have appeared on the show, including Nirvana, Aerosmith, Paul McCartney, The Cure, R.E.M., Lauryn Hill, and Mary J. Blige.

In addition to bringing back its iconic accoustic performance series, MTV is moving forward with its first weekly music competition. The untitled series from “The Voice” producer Mark Burnett will pit unsigned hip-hop artists against each other in front of a panel of industry experts.

MTV also announced “Wonderland,” a series that will bring a multimedia experience to live musical and comedy performances. Sister network Comedy Central will coproduce the series.

See below for the network’s descriptions of its new musical shows:

“MTV Unplugged”
A response to the heavily produced music of the late ’80s and early ’90s, “MTVUnplugged” triggered an acoustic music groundswell. The series presented artists in different yet complementary lights showcasing musicianship and songcraft. Through its distinctive format, MTV Unplugged manages the miraculous feat of reaching beyond core fans to connect contemporary artists to heritage audiences and heritage artists to younger audiences in equal measures. The conditions are right in 2016 to do it again. The revitalized Unplugged will restore key elements that made the franchise so groundbreaking in the first place, while resetting the show in the multi-platform video world of today.

“Untitled Mark Burnett Project”
Welcome to the recording studio, where talent is transformed and legends are discovered. At the intersection of music and business, this show gives hip hop’s freshest talent a chance at every musician’s dream: getting signed. Mark Burnett, the Executive Producer of SHARK TANK and THE VOICE, brings us the best of both worlds, with undiscovered artists performing in front of music’s biggest moguls, each eager to sign the next breakout star. But forget the shiny floor stage — it’s all happening in the recording studio in the first of its kind, organic music competition series that breaks all the rules. Mark Burnett and MGM Television will Executive Produce.

MTV is launching a new weekly show that re-imagines live music programming and delivers a smart, comedic take on pop culture at large. Co-developed with Comedy Central, Wonderland will bring together the best new music, ground-breaking live performances and young comedic talent under one roof in a highly-curated and truly innovative multi-streamed viewing experience.

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, and set in a multi-roomed location, Wonderland does not take place in your typical TV studio but a real living, breathing space that has things happening in every room simultaneously. The weekly show will be a raw, fast-paced, unique hour of entertainment hosted by a group of opinionated tastemakers who live for music as musicians themselves and comedians. Live performances are the beating heart of every episode and this show will provide a platform for artists to experiment with the unexpected, express their creativity in new ways and deliver one-off performances that will become inked in the public consciousness. Executive Produced by Done & Dusted with MTV.

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