(via Multichannel News)

By R. THOMAS UMSTEAD

Music producer, entrepreneur and fashion mogul Pharrell Williams recently joined the executive team of upstart youth-culture network Karmaloop TV as creative director for new programming. He has also taken an equity position in the channel. Williams, who has worked with and produced hits for such artists as Gwen Stefani, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, talked about his plans for Karmaloop TV in an e-mail interview with Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead.

Why did you decide to take both a financial and creative interest in upstart Karmaloop TV?

Because I believe in what they represent, and what they are trying to do, creating a multiplatform network catering to the tastes of “verge culture.”

I really appreciate how they are trying to both serve and merge cultures — creating a new programming platform that reclaims the 18-to-34 demographic for cable operators, and gives techand trend-savvy young people a network catered to their interests. It’s also a great business proposition, creating a network for the most underserved audience in cable.

From a creative perspective what projects would you like to bring to Karmaloop TV?

[Laughs] We’re not telling you everything just yet, but expect it to be next-level.

One thing I’m especially excited about is Rat, Rang, Rilla. It’s an offbeat puppet show for which I am creating the characters that chronicle the music-superstar lifestyle. Think The Muppets with an edge, merged with Entourage.

What’s your message to cable, satellite and telco distributors who are deciding whether to launch Karmaloop TV to their subscribers?

First of all, we want to thank you for having us. We just want to tell them we look forward to helping each other out and forming a big bro/big sis relationship.

We also want them to look to us to help them understand the motivations and how to market to this new edge of the youth market, which has over $90 billion in buying power, for advice on social media, viral marketing and e-commerce — something Karmaloop has employed to great success for a decade.

How will Karmaloop serve a young demographic better than other, more established networks such as BET and MTV?

It’s not about being better than one network or another. We just want to serve a particular culture that we feel has been underserved. There are many messages out there: MTV has a message, BET has a message and we feel that we will have our own unique message. Karmaloop TV can help operators tap a huge and lucrative audience, one that will be key to the future of not only cable, but the advanced services they want to sell in to these early adopters.

Beyond Karmaloop TV, what other projects are you working on?

Well, I’m always working on a lot of things, but today I’m just here to talk about Karmaloop TV. I wouldn’t be talking to you if it wasn’t one of the most important projects I’m working on!