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MTVN Begins Testing Music Meter For ‘Popular’ Discovery (No Bieber Or Gaga)

For years, the people who remember MTV Networks’ early days have lamented that it’s been more known for shows like The Hills or Jersey Shore than about “the music.” The company has long shaken its head at that characterization, but be that as it may, it plans to plunge ahead with a lot more music-related offerings in the next year. Music Meter promised as the first of many in the vein uses social media and search to find what sort of artists and songs its audience is talking about — while downplaying perennial trending topics Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

In addition to its website, the Music Meter will be part of the MTV Music ID pack from Sprint (NYSE: S), its mobile partner in this effort. Before the year is out, there will also be apps for the iPhone and Android systems.

Breaking it down to the basics, Music Meter starts off as a pop music chart — the most “buzzed about” bands will be featured on the main page. Users can scan through those artists, click one and see a range of 30-second song snippets powered by subscription jukebox Rhapsody, as well as info about the singer or band, videos and images.Soundhound and Pandora are also partners on Music Meter. The main idea is for users to click or search for an artist they like and follow the recommendations that point to similar musical tastes.

“We wanted to know how do users hear the artists who are rising, so we looked at music blogs, to Soundscan and radio air play, to come up with the plan,” said Shannon Connolly, MTVN’s VP for Digital Music Strategy, in an interview with paidContent. “So we developed a really strong algorithm that says what music fans are talking about. We weren’t sure if it would just be creating another chart with the same set of artists at the top of list. But after we did this, we were thrilled to see largely unknown, up-and-coming artists who were the ones being talked about.”

So if it’s about promoting what fans want, how does the Meter filter out obvious popular searches for names like Bieber and Gaga among the roughly 1 million famous and non-so-famous musical acts here? “The intent was to promote new music. Connolly said. “We took the artists who had the strongest rise, not absolute value.”

At the moment, Music Meter’s site won’t carry ads. After all, it’s just beta and there’s no point scaring users away from a new free service. Out of the gate, no ad units on the page. Really simple. We’re in discussions with clients to integrate their brand into the meter,” Connolly said.

Updated: MTVN (NYSE: VIA) partnered with music app developer EchoNest on the algorithm.

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