MTV Music Meter Scans Social Sites for Rising Stars

Viacom Inc.’s MTV is starting a Web service to showcase up-and-coming bands as the cable channel adds online and mobile features to fend off and News Corp.’s MySpace.

MTV Music Meter, a service that scans social networks for bands generating an increasing number of comments, is available starting today, Dermot McCormack, who oversees digital operations at MTV Networks, said yesterday in an interview.

“We want to re-associate and new-associate the MTV brand with music,” McCormack said. “This is aimed at finding those artists who are rising fast in the social-media conversation.”

A version for devices using Google Inc.’s Android software and Apple Inc.’s iPad and iPhone will be available by the end of January, McCormack said. Music Meter provides music videos and 30-second samples of tracks. Full songs can be purchased at the site and MTV is working with Rhapsody International Inc. to provide full tracks in the near future, McCormack said. Internet radio will be added in a subsequent edition, he said. Clicking a “similar” button provides a list of related bands.

The channel is working with “one or two big brands” on sponsoring the site, McCormack said, without providing specifics. Ads during the first two months will be limited, he said. Companies will be able to associate with a particular genre or place ads next to a particular style of music. With the mobile version, companies may provide coupons or other promotions to users based on their location, he said.

Music Roots

MTV began in 1981, one of the first cable channels to air music videos. During the past 10 years, it provided fewer tunes as it shifted to episodic programming such as “The Real World” and “16 and Pregnant.” The reversion to its roots in music began last year when the channel started an Internet version of its “Unplugged” concert series., a collaboration of Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group and Sony Corp.’s music division, is challenging MTV online with music videos. MySpace Chief Executive Officer Mike Jones shifted the site in October to focus on entertainment and has started online and mobile music products.

Viacom, based in New York and controlled by Chairman Sumner Redstone, rose 4 cents to $39.30 at 12:39 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The Class B shares had gained 32 percent this year before today.

(Updates with today’s share price in eighth paragraph.)
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