October 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

MTV’s New Music App Is Really An Ecosystem

MTV released a free iOS app this morning that aspires to unite key aspects of the music experience. Using this single app, music fans who encounter a new artist can go from knowing only one single thing about them, to learning more about them, to connecting with them in many ways, from the casual to the serious.

The app is explicitly split into these three sections — sort of, we feel obligated to point out, like the “triptych”-style approach to music apps we recommended earlier.

It’s a smart approach, because it expresses how we music fans interact with new music these days. First, we discover an artist in myriad ways, then we might research them a bit, and then we decide whether to commit to them on a number of levels. The old approach (“read a bunch of reviews, listen to your friends, then decide what to buy at a store”) made more sense in the last millennium.

As Caeser once said about Gaul, MTV’s music app or iOS is all divided into three parts:

Stage 1: You Just Heard (Or Heard About) Some Band

The first thing you want to do when you hear a song you like, or a friend tells you the name of a band they like, is to get a handle on who they are.

  • If you hear the song playing somewhere where you are, the MTV Artists app can identify it acoustically with its Sound ID feature (powered by Gracenote’s audio fingerprinting feature). Or, if you just catch a few lyrics, you can search with those too.
  • If a friend tells you about an artist, you can search for them by name.


Stage 2: What Is Up With These People?

Now it’s time to do a little research.

  • In case you care what bands look like, the app includes photos.
  • What is, quite literally, their story? Where are they from, and how long have they been around? The biography tells you.
  • Of what genre are their musical efforts?
  • Find out what other bands they sound like — maybe there’s one you already like.
  • Listen to some more of their music as you watch their videos (note: some of this data is from The Echo Nest, which publishes Evolver.fm).


Stage 3: Connect, Maybe Acquire

If after what you have already seen, you are still curious about this band, or maybe you even really like them, you can now do these things, in escalating order of commitment:

  • See what the band is saying on Facebook and Twitter without going to Facebook or Twitter (not visible in screenshot — stages 2 and 3 actually happen on the same screen; you just have to scroll down).
  • Of course, the app ends where many discovery experiences end: a buying decision. If you want to preview and purchase the band’s music, you can do that within the app. It also tells you when they’re playing live, so you can buy tickets.

This app doesn’t have everything. You can’t collect music into Rdio or Spotify using it, it doesn’t include blogs and other tastemakers, there’s no artist radio, and there  are plenty of other things missing that will see you looking elsewhere for certain stuff. That’s always the case, with any music app — it’s impossible to do absolutely everything that there is.

But as a primary app for discovering and connecting with new artists, MTV Artists does a fine job of connecting the dots that mirrors how people actually encounter and absorb music these days — especially for music fans who prefer pop music, because the app is likely to have exclusive content for those artists.