Incoming Rock & Roll Hall of Fame chairman John Sykes said the 2020 induction ceremony will be broadcast live on HBO as he seeks to establish the “2.0” version of the organization.

Former MTV and VH1 senior executive Sykes was announced as the Rock Hall’s new leader last week. He’ll take over from co-founder Jann Wenner on Jan. 1 with the aim of expanding the Hall’s reach to match a “spirit that connects with young people.”

“I want to expose as many people as possible to all the incredible music that surrounds us,” he told the LA Times in a new interview. “My mantra for my entire career has been, ‘If you want to win, follow the artists,’ because they are the blood that flows through the veins of all our business. We will be celebrating those artists, whether fans go to the physical building in Cleveland or see what we’re doing on Instagram or YouTube, we want to be everywhere.”

He added: “We have new board members. The induction ceremony will be live next year instead of taped. We’re also looking to do a lot more in California, because it is a cornerstone of the music business. The best time to reinvent is when you’re on top of the game. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is setting new attendance records, it has gained recognition as a true cultural institution. I think now is our chance.”

Sykes argued that the introduction of the Rock Hall fan vote in recent years, along with changing the membership of the nominating committee, had been an indicator that modernisation was on the cards. “Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine came in one time and stood up and said, ‘Heavy metal is a category of music of the people. Why aren’t bands like Kiss and Rush in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?’ He was very persuasive. …We have to reflect what fans truly love.”

He accepted there would always be controversy around the nominated artists every year, saying: “It’s a healthy tension. It keeps the committee on point. There are people who argue both sides to this day. It’s a healthy debate – sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t.”


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