MTV Artists iPhone App Aims to Simplify Music Discovery

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MTV is hoping its latest digital product will be many things to many people. Introduced Thursday, MTV Artists is an iPhone app that takes the tasks routinely carried out by music fans and puts them under one roof.

MTV Artists is like a Swiss army knife for music fans. It has a music identification tool and performs searches for lyric and artists. "We're stitching together a lot of music discovery activity that happens in a lot of different places," says Shannon Connolly, svp music strategy at Connected Content.

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The app's success will depend on how dissatisfied music fans are with the current, fractured system of looking up songs, artists and lyrics. Shazam and SoundHound have hundreds of millions of users and have revolutionized how people discover songs. Search engines seem to be adequate for finding lyrics and artists. In addition, a multi-purpose app like MTV Artists must compete against single-use apps that specialize in one task.

But MTV wanted to build a better mousetrap. It believes there's a market opportunity for an app that provides music fans with a unified, not a disjointed, experience. Its year-old Artist.MTV artist profile pages are a big reason for this optimism. Searches for songs, lyrics and artists will lead back to these MTV-hosted artist pages with news, music, video and other content. MTV is betting music fans would rather quickly find an artist's content on a single page than on pages scattered around the Internet.

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Artist.MTV pages tap into MTV, VH1 and CMT's ability to offer content. "We've seen success from creating exciting, unique content that people can't get anywhere else," explains Matt Siegel, a Viacom digital strategy executive formerly with Indaba. He says Artists.MTV's greatest traffic moments have come from such content in addition to album premieres, exclusive performances from the company's "Storytellers" series, live performances and archival performances.

Beyond the search functions, MTV Artists will be built so users visit frequently. Siegel says early next year the app will push unique content -- album premieres, exclusive vault content and video premieres -- to mobile devices every day.

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