SXSW: MTV Launches Artists.MTV, MySpace-Like Hub for Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Indies

Artist.MTV will host pages for more than one million artists, offering fans exclusive content, merchandise, Twitter feeds and more

MTV is launching a 2012 version of MySpace for musicians, Artists.MTV, a new online hub of artist pages for everyone from Beyonce to the Alabama Shakes.

Van Toffler, President of Viacom’s Music Group, made the announcement Thursday at the South by Southwest Film Festival.

Artists.MTV, which will launch in beta in May and then go wide in September, will feature the artists’ music, exclusive MTV content, tweets, articles about the musicians, concert tickets, merchandise and more.

 “With MySpace no longer really part of the equation when you search for an artist, you have to run around to a million different places – Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook,” Shannon Connolly, VP of Digital Music Strategy for MTV Music Group told TheWrap. “It’s hard to keep up with the artists you love and the artists you don’t know you love yet. Artists.MTV allows us to create a centralized hub and connect those dots.”

Artists.MTV will replace the current artists pages on MTV.com and VH1.com, which have only about 10,000 artists in the catalog.

This will launch with more than one million, including everyone from global icons like Lady Gaga to smaller groups like Wallpaper. MTV pre-populates the page, but allows artists to claim them. Artists can then upload whatever content they like and customize the experience and the product offerings.

Users will have access to 30 years of MTV interviews, performances and original video. For lesser-known artists, that may not amount to much. For Beyonce, there are more than 370 exclusive MTV pieces in the vault.

The hub will also aggregate a ton of content – everything from the artist’s Facebook page and Twitter account to Pitchfork reviews and tour dates via SongKick.

“We wanted to make it really easy for the artist to just tell us who they are in all the places they frequent,” Connolly said. “If they prefer Twitter and Instagram, tell us who they are on those platforms. We can also sync on the audio and video front using Vevo, YouTube and directly uploaded video.”

MTV sees itself as central to promoting artists and playing their music, and the new site is designed to further that ambition. Whether that remains as true in MTV's age of "Jersey Shore" and "16 & Pregnant" is up for debate. The announcement arrives on the same day as MTV's "Woodie Awards," an event devoted to up-and-coming artists.

One realm in which MTV has less of a foothold in is merchandising. That is why it has partnered with Topspin Media, a company that has created software that enables artists to sell music and merchandise directly to fans rather than going through Amazon or iTunes.

Artists can not only make money from selling that merchandise, but also by sharing in ad revenue form the site.

Google launched its own program for lesser known artists last year, the Artist Hub and its Magnified program.

MTV believes their new site will prove helpful to artists all across the spectrum, form the big stars to the high school garage bands.

“The way artist worked in the past was through record labels, though A&R,” Connolly said. “That’s how you got into the halls of MTV. We’re opening up another door and any artist can come through this door.”

As a final element of this push, MTV will use “Full Frontal,” a program that will select an artist each month to be showcased across the MTV Music Group’s TV Channels – MTV, CMT, VH1 and more – as well as all the digital properties.