MusiquePlus to go off the air in August

The parent company of the erstwhile star-making Quebec music specialty channel, launched in 1986, says it will convert the channel into one targeting women.

With audiences and media trends changing, parent company says it will launch new channel targeting women

The channel's audience share had dwindled to around one per cent in recent years. (MusiquePlus)

The day the music died will come to MusiquePlus, the erstwhile star-making Quebec music specialty channel, in August.

The station's parent media company, Groupe V Media, says in its place, it will launch a new channel targeting women.

"It's a fundamental trend in the industry that led us to make this decision," said Dimitri Gourdin, Groupe V Media's executive vice-president and head of corporate strategy.

"There was a relaunch of MusiquePlus, developing three other pillars alongside music: humour, reality TV and series. But the numbers spoke for themselves. That relaunch did not live up to our expectations."

Recently, the channel's audience share has dwindled to around one per cent. 

Launching pad for many

MusiquePlus, established in 1986, was the launching pad for many Quebec stars, including Véronique Cloutier, Geneviève Borne, Anne-Marie Withenshaw, Claude Rajotte and Sonia Benezra.

On Twitter, Pierre Landry, a longtime music columnist at CBC Montreal who spent five years at MusiquePlus, remembered the music station as a "creative laboratory" where almost everything was permitted — both on and off the air. 

Geneviève Borne, seen here at the 2015 Gala Gemeaux awards, was a VJ at MusiquePlus from 1992 to 2000. She says the channel has lost its relevance, now that 'you can go to YouTube any hour, and press play.' (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

"The magic of MusiquePlus was the proximity and the spontaneity," said Borne, a VJ at the station from 1992 to 2000.

"My favourite one was with REM. It was incredible. To have a chance to talk to them for a long time about, really, anything. And then to see them play right in front of our eyes."

The Montreal studio hosted countless local and international artists, and the corner of Ste-Catherine and Bleury streets was frequently jammed with hordes of fans. 

Stephanie Ng Wan, an actor now living in Toronto, was often in the crowd at that street corner. She estimates she went to as many as 20 shows at MusiquePlus in her teenage years and says the channel was how she fed her appetite for music and music news.

"It really mattered to me in the late 90s and early 2000s," she said. "Shows there were different from a concert. It was a more intimate venue, and it was live TV at the same time. 

"I met some really good friends going to shows at MusiquePlus on my own."

Fans crowd around the stage — and the streets outside — during an appearance by One Direction at the MusiquePlus studio in Montreal in March 2012. MusiquePlus is shutting down after more than 30 years on the air. (Radio-Canada)

Ng Wan said she hasn't watched the channel in years, and she no longer owns a TV.

"You remember the song Video Killed the Radio Star?" asked Borne, the former VJ. "Well, YouTube killed the music video station. MusiquePlus had the exclusive right to play music videos. There was no way you could see them otherwise. Today you can go to YouTube any hour, and press play."

V Groupe Media rebranded and reconfigured another one if its properties, MusiMax, as MAX in 2016, a move it says increased market share and profitability.

The company hopes a similar approach will work with MusiquePlus. 

Did MusiquePlus matter to you? Share your memories in the comments below, or email webquebec@cbc.ca.

With files from Radio-Canada

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