Music and video network Music Choice is going the crowd-sourcing route with a new music video network called SWRV.

The network lets viewers decide which music video will play next by sending in their vote from either a mobile phone or computer. It also is replacing on-air talent with viewers themselves through the use of several interactive features. One, called Vid-ications, lets viewers dedicate a video by sending either a text or a photo/video message from their phone that will display on-air while the video plays. Another, called Takeover, lets viewers program 15 minutes of videos, complete with their own playlist and introductory videos.

The first cable operator to adopt the new network is Cox Communications, airing it initially in New England and Virginia before rolling out nationwide. The business model is a combination of Cox paying a licensing fee to air the network, and advertising.
“Without a licensing fee paying for the streaming and anything else, there’s really no business model,” says Music Choice CEO David Del Beccaro. “This is a much more viable approach.”

As a way of protecting that investment, the online version of the service—www.swrv.tv—will only be available to broadband Internet subscribers of participating cable operators. The online version adds things like pre-programmed music video playlists, and on-demand music videos. Interestingly, Universal Music Group videos won’t be available on demand, while all other major label content will. UMG videos are included, however, in the programmed music video stream.

Del Beccaro says labels get a cut of all revenue, including the TV broadcast, marking the first time record labels have been compensated for music videos aired on TV.

Launching a new music video TV channel is no small risk, seeing as most music video usage has migrated online in recent years. Del Beccaro concedes that music video networks have faced challenges in retaining viewers—which is what led MTV and others to adopt more reality-based programming—but says the SWRV formula address that problem through social media.

Past music video networks have problems maintaining interest.
“Viewers come in, and ten minutes later they’re gone as soon as they hear a song they don’t like,” he says. “We believe this will be fundamentally different [because] they’re participating on what’s happening next so their interest will be maintained even if they don’t like the music that’s currently being played.”