While reality TV dominates MTV's network programming, the network is hoping to make music the focus for its Web presence, and is doubling down on music discovery as its means for doing so.
Today, it launched Hive, a new website designed as a sort of Idolator meets Pitchfork meets, well… Billboard.com. It combines music news, opinion, snark and multimedia with a future eye towards things like music sales, merch and concert tickets.
"MTV at its core and infancy was about music discovery, and that's never left our DNA," says Van Toffler, title president of MTV Networks Music/Films/Logo Group. "The internet allows us to go deeper and wider and create this really immersive experience around music."
The site will be helmed by Jessica Robertson, formerly of Spinner.com and RollingStone.com. The main blog will include reviews, surveys on a variety of topics, artist-provided book reviews, exclusive video, streaming performances, new series franchises exclusive to hive (ie: not also airing on MTV), archived video from Unplugged and so on, and more.
According to Toffler, all MTV staff, including himself, will have access to the site to spout off on whatever music topic they feel the need to vent about.
"We'll have articles with an editorial point of view every day about what's missing in music, what lyrics suck, what is the best Ryan Adams song," he says. "It gives us the opportunity to maybe flex some music muscles we haven't used in a bit."
This is the second big product launch around music discovery for MTV. Late last year, it introduced the MTV Music Meter, a chart built with technology from The Echo Nest designed to track which artists were seeing the biggest traffic spikes online and in social media, not just the most volume. That service debuted as a website, but is now an app for both the iPad, various smartphones, and Web-connected TVs.
But according to Toffler, Hive won't be the last.
"I hope to have something out every month," he says. "We're trying to build the stepping stones to the lifestyle of an artist--from infancy to popularity to videos to performances. We're putting the pieces out there. Some live separately, and some co-exist."
On the horizon is a music app geared towards local music and events, although not much information is available about it at this time.