The Echo Nest: MTV Tries to Regain Music Video Junkies with New Algorithm-Based Site, Music MeterDecember 14, 2010
by Gerrick Kennedy
MTV hasn’t been the place music fans associate with discovering new artists through music videos for at least a decade. As the channel has swapped out video clips in favor of original programming such as “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom” and a slew of other reality shows, the only time to catch a block of videos is typically in the late night/early morning hours.
And despite often showcasing clips from new and established artists at the tail ends of shows, and relying heavily on playing new tunes (with the song’s complete info) during them, it’s doubtful that fans are paying attention to the sounds of She & Him, Waka Flocka Flame and Neon Trees as Snooki and the Situation enjoy “the Smoosh Room” or a fistpump in the club.
To remedy that discord, the network is unveiling a new music product, the Music Meter, on Tuesday. The site, which is in beta form, is the first of several music-related products MTV plans to introduce in the coming year.
MTV Music Meter will offer fans an easy-to-navigate interface where they can explore 100 of the most buzzed about up-and-coming artists (huge mainstream acts have been purposely pulled from the top feed—though they are still accesible to explore).
Dermot McCormack, EVP of Digital Media, MTV Music & Logo at MTV Networks, said creation of the site was a way for the network to tap into the world of social networking and sharing.
“We think there is a big opening there. We think on a [music] product perspective we’re going through a renaissance. You can share it on social networks, and get it anywhere. One of the problems, though, is you can get music in a bewildering amount of places,” McCormack said. “There is almost too much. Music Meter is an attempt to try to cut through the clutter.”
McCormack said MTV teamed with a company called EchoNest to develop a unique (and rather complicated, he jokes) algorithm that searches social media, blogs and video streams to populate the list and provide daily updates of bands as a way for fans to discover new acts.
When an artist is selected, listeners can stream 30-second snippets of songs, purchase MP3s, watch music videos, view photos, read tweets, bios and news about the artists, as well as access similar artists—all of which can be shared across such social platforms as Twitter and Facebook.
“Basically, here is, on a daily basis, 10 artists you would like. It pulls out the most interesting buzz artists. It’s not the most talked about artists on Twitter or else it would be Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga every day for six months. These are artists that are making big moves, artists you might not know,” he said.
Besides living online, McCormack said, Music Meter will be part of an MTV Music ID pack for Sprint smartphones. The network also hopes to roll out an app version of the site for iPad, iPhone and Android by the end of the year as it gauges reception of the site.
“It’s not a simple tally of most Twitter mentions. It’s a little more complicated. It’s one that we tweak and it’s a bit black boxy. It’s not a streaming service, it’s not a download service. It’s a mechanism to discover new music and share new music,” McCormack said. “It’s not, hey, give me the most talked about artist on Twitter. It’s give me someone with velocity—the input of this massive social conversation going on. It’s a curated conversation. It moves on a daily basis, frankly, the way the Web does.”
McCormack hopes Music Meter will become a go-to resource for both the most casual of music listeners and the hard-core fans wanting to keep abreast of the latest trends.
“If you have heard of the artists, it’s a way to get into their new videos. A) It’s about consuming music and B) it’s about discovering new music,” he said. “It’s a good way to reassociate the MTV brand with music.”