We can be forgiven for thinking that, at times, MTV has lost touch with its roots. Between the constant parade of banal reality shows and Bigfoot-sighting frequency of music videos featured on the network it can seem as if the company has given up on actually trendsetting in the world of music. Luckily the release of the MTV Music Meter, an innovative and relevant new charting system, proves this theory wrong by displaying the company’s renewed commitment to current music.
The MTV Music Meter, only just launched in beta, puts the modern music charts where they belong — into the hands of a digital democracy. By accessing the Music Meter fans are able to view a daily list of the top 100 artists currently getting buzz around the internet and then carry on to check out any of the subject’s photos, videos, bios, tweets, music, similar artists and more.
The MTV Music Meter is, in this sense, just a charting system (albeit a more interactive one). What makes it noteworthy, however, is that it is a charting system that is determined by an algorithm (developed by MTV and EchoNest) that crawls the web for the most popular blog postings, video streams and other social media hype-machines. The daily top 100 is then composed from these findings, representing a traffic-driven approach to pop chart listings influenced by the real majority — that is, anyone with a computer and an opinion.
Because it is socially centered, the MTV Music Meter is able to more effectively keep a finger on the industry’s pulse. The biggest bands aren’t found only by record labels, radio execs and magazine critics nowadays. As we’ve seen before (with Myspace buzzed acts like Arctic Monkeys), current music popularity is more fluid, depending on the interest of international bloggers, Youtube commenters and Twitter junkies.
MTV has shown good judgement in creating the program by removing mainstream successes from the system entirely. Instead of flooding the top positions with Beibers, Perrys, Gagas and other massively popular artists, the Music Meter is intended to bring less visible musicians to the forefront. While there are still artists on the MTV Music Meter that are, perhaps, not quite as “unheard” as one would hope for (The Pretty Reckless, She and Him, Broken Bells and Il Divo are all present in the top 100 at the time of writing — and have all enjoyed feature write-ups in the mainstream media), the system is, nonetheless, populated mostly by up-and-comers that actually need the exposure.
The MTV Music Meter is currently available through a standalone website but it is also destined for mobile devices before the end of the year. iPhone, Android and select Sprint smartphones will be able to run the forthcoming MTV Music ID pack, a software suite that includes the MTV Music Meter alongside third party apps like Rhapsody, Pandora and SoundHound.
The MTV Music Meter is a great take on familiar pop music charts and one that is sure to resonate with the MTV demographic much more than traditional tastemakers like the Billboard Top 40. By adapting to the changing climate of the music industry and embracing Web 2.0 with its latest offering, MTV is demonstrating that it may be more relevant than many suppose.