Today, MTV launches its Music Meter, a new artist ranking service aimed at upending traditional music charts. Rather than simply track CD sales (who buys those anymore?) and radio airplay, Music Meter ranks the top 100 artists bubbling up on a variety of non-traditional platforms.
By tracking an artist's social media buzz (tweets, blog posts, articles) and streams (YouTube, Vevo) in addition to purchase data, MTV's chart shows a more real-time portrait of up-and-coming artists. It will refresh daily. The chart is based on velocity rather than absolute popularity, so it will only show artists who are rising quickly—not those who are sitting in the No. 1 spot.
"Let's not always have the big guys on top—let's invite users to discover artists that they may not know they love yet," says Shannon Connolly, VP of Digital Music Strategy at MTV Networks. "We chose to strip out the most popular artists that you see dominating all lists—so you won't see Gaga or Bieber."
Instead, users will find an eclectic mix of rising stars—those buzzing on the indie scene that have yet to go mainstream. Each artist is featured in a widget-style box that provides news, tweets, videos and song previews and purchases via Rhapsody.
MTV's Music Meter isn't the first service to venture into this territory. Analytics company Big Champagne recently launched its digital media-enhanced rankings, the Ultimate Chart. Even Billboard has introduced a chart called the Social 50, a ranking of the world's most active artists on social networking sites.
But while the Ultimate Chart and Billboard are currently dominated by Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas, MTV's chart offers a refreshing list of artists: Waka Flocka Flame, Girls, Yelawolf.
"We wanted to get a sense not just of what everyone is listening to, but what the real buzz is out there," explains MTV's Kurt Patat. "We wanted to see what's trending—what the chatter is right now."
"A band might be huge in the blogosphere, and all the hipsters know about it," adds Connolly. "We think this is a way for MTV to elevate that conversation."
Follow Austin Carr on Twitter.