MTV on Wednesday launched the public beta for Artists.MTV, a new online hub for musicians to connect with their fans through interviews, music and social media.
The site -- designed to be a newer, upgraded version of Myspace with pages for artists famous and unknown -- was first announced by the network in March, at South by Southwest. A private beta for artists and fans has been live over the summer.
The network will launch mobile apps in the coming months.
“This is a platform to empower artists, to help them get heard, get promoted and get paid,” Shannon Connolly, VP of Digital Music Strategy for MTV Music Group, told TheWrap. “We’re creating a way for any artist to be in business with us directly and connect with the MTV audience.”
More than a million artists have pages, each one outfitted with varying levels of content -- from biographies and music videos to interviews, tweets, news articles and concert schedules. The site mixes content from MTV’s archives, outside news sources like Stereogum and Yahoo and content the artists can upload themselves.
Artists don't have to do anything. They can either leave the page is as, outfitted with content selected via MTV’s own algorithms, or claim the page and dictate some of what appears.
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All of the artists performing at this year's Video Music Awards, including Pink and One Direction, are going to claim their pages. MTV also hopes that kids just starting bands will feel comfortable creating a page for themselves.
"Anyone can create a page that is compelling," Mark Mezrich, MTV's director of product development, told TheWrap. "From an artist's perspective, you can be Madonna or James Brown or start a band tomorrow and load your own content."
MTV will split advertising revenue witht he artists, who will also get a share of the sales for concert tickets and merchandise that are sold through third parties on the site. MTV won't take a cut of those sales, but it will collect money for directing traffic to some of its partners, which include concert-focused site Songkick.
But the network is not seeing Artists.MTV as a moneymaker. “There are projects we work on that are more profitable and make money,” Connolly said. “We are out there talking about this as a pro-artists initative.”
MTV will collect money for directing traffic to some of its partners, which include concert-focused site Songkick, but it also will use its vast resources to promote the site across its many platforms.
MTV’s efforts to create a hub for musicians of varying fame and success harkens back to its early days as the television channel for all things music. MTV has since shed that image, opting to produce shows like “Jersey Shore” instead of more music-focused content.
“Of course we’re aware of the reputation we have,” Connolly said. “Our TV programming has shifted and we’ve reinvented ourselves many times over. I’m grateful we have; it lets us do things like this.”
Yet Connolly says that this is something MTV is in a unique position to do. As they asked fans what kind of company should do this, be it Apple, YouTube or otherwise, the most common answer was MTV.
“It’s not that we have permission to be in the music space; there’s an expectation that we should be,” Connolly said. “ We are absolutely in the music space and have been for 30 years.”