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MTV on Wednesday officially launched Artists.MTV, a new music initiative created by the network to showcase a rage of artists both signed and unsigned, old and new, on a unique, more advanced web platform. The artist will be in complete control of their own Artists.MTV page and can use it to connect with fans in whatever way they want.
After Viacom president Van Toffler announced the project at SXSW earlier this year, MTV execs tell The Hollywood Reporter about why they decided to create Artists.MTV.
“The main thing to emphasize here is we’ve been looking at the digital music space for the past couple of years. Looking at opportunities, looking at white spaces, looking at where we think it makes sense for our brand to play. What occurred to us is that there are some real challenges from the artist perspective and from the fan perspective,” says Mark Mezrich, director, product development for MTV Networks. “There are a million sites and services for artists to go to create websites to sell things to their fans, to connect with fans, and a lot of them are fantastic, and we admire them, but they lack real promotional capability and they lack audience.
“From the fan side, you see the same thing, ever since MySpace fell out of the equation, there was never that default place you could go to where you could get a track and you could get information about an artist and most importantly, where you know you can make a connection,” he adds.
The new platform offers up an opportunities for acts of all levels to get paid. Fans can donate directly to their favorite artists without a middleman, and through a partnership with Topspin, the site will offer musicians the opportunity to sell digital and physical products directly to their fan base at competitive pricing. Additionally, artists are given 50 percent of all ad revenue from their page.
Based on Google and Yahoo searches of artists throughout the web, MTV has noticed that their artists’ web pages received a substantial amount of attention — but those pages were too bland to see real results. “We noticed that they have been around forever and the pages really sucked, we hadn’t updated in 10 years,” says Shannon Connolly, senior vp of digital music strategy for MTV. “We decided to re-vamp the pages and open them up directly to the artists, to empower them and really connect with their audience.
An ambitious goal, Artist.MTV plans to have pages for over a million artists. This means that the platform won’t only host big name acts like Beyonce and Justin Bieber, but will also allow the same access to underground artists and even budding YouTube stars.
“This is a very pro-artist initiative. To get fans to put money directly into the pockets of artists they love. To help artists and emerging artists get heard, get promoted and get paid,” says Connolly.
The initial layout of the site is very similar to Pinterst or Tumblr, though MTV claims that they “are not creating a social network,” but rather a “community of artists.”
Once a user is granted access to the site, they can type in the name of any artist and are presented a stream of music videos, artist interviews, media articles new and old, photos, live performance videos and albums. On the right side of the page, there’s a link to similar artists that the viewer might enjoy, helping fans discover new music, which in turn furthers MTV’s goal of delivering an outlet for undiscovered artists.
The idea for Artist.MTV came from a previous platform that MTV launched in 2010.
“In late 2010, we launched the MTV Music Meter, an app that ranks artists based on buzz,” says Mezrich. “The product extended our coverage from about 10K artists to more than 1.8 million and reflected a wider conversation about music – not just our own curation and choices… In many ways, the Meter served as an early prototype for Artists.MTV, as we learned a ton about what music fans wanted in music discovery app, and what the white spaces are on mobile specifically.”
Artist.MTV quietly launched a private beta for artists, labels and managers in early June, and on Aug. 15, the public beta will be officially available. The platform will be formally released and accessible to all artists after the VMA’s on Sept. 6.
Intrigued? See Artists.MTV for yourself.
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