The site was first announced at South by Southwest as a “pro-artist initiative” that allows musicians to “take control of their MTV presence.” It’s basically a collection of 1.8 million profile pages, which MTV wants to turn into the center of a musician’s presence, both on MTV and on the Web. Musicians can claim their pages to take control of the look, the content, and the monetization.
A private beta for artists, labels, and managers launched in June, but it sounds like we’re still in the very early stages of musicians claiming pages — most of the profiles that you see now will be unclaimed.
Whether they’re claimed or not, the profiles should feel pretty familiar, with a mix of biographical information, music videos, photos, tour dates, Facebook and Twitter updates, and so on. When musicians claim a page, they can customize it with their own logo and background, upload their own content, and create a banner directing fans to whatever they want, whether it’s their website or their latest album on iTunes. Unclaimed profiles, especially for less famous musicians, will look a bit more generic and probably be a bit more sparse on the content side, but they should still have some basic information for fans, and for artists, Viacom SVP of Digital Music Strategy Shannon Connolly says they should serve as “as an invitation to come in and claim their page.” (You can see a claimed profile below.)
Musicians probably have websites and online profiles already, but with an Artists.MTV profile, they can potentially communicate directly with a big audience, since MTV sites reach 50 million unique visitors per month. Connolly acknowledges that one of the big pieces of artist feedback was, “Please don’t create another thing I have to go and update every day.” MTV is definitely interested in featuring exclusive content down the line, she says, but for now the profiles can serve as centralized aggregators for their online presences, bringing together a musician’s Facebook updates, their tweets, the videos they posted to YouTube, and so on. MTV may also be filling out the profiles with more integrations with outside sites and services in the future.
Through a partnership with Topspin, musicians will be able to sell digital and physical products directly from their profiles. MTV will also be offering a revenue share deal on advertising, and it plans to add a tip jar feature where fans can donate directly to artists. In addition, the company says it plans to launch the MTV Artists Rising Fund, which could take the form of grants to unsigned musicians for studio time, making videos, buying equipment, taking a tour, and so on.
Even though the site is opening to the public today, the big launch isn’t planned until the Video Music Awards on September 6, when all artists will be able to start claiming their pages, and MTV will start promoting the site more heavily. The company says it plans to release an Artists.MTV app and mobile website at the end of the year.