Launch to coincide with VMAs

SXSW entered into the full fore of its music festival on Thursday, with a keynote speech from Bruce Springsteen and the announcement of a new MTV artist platform. But the confab had already seen a flurry of digital music announcements, as tech companies descended on Austin for the ever-growing SXSW Interactive.

A flood of streaming news

On Thursday afternoon, Viacom’s Music and Logo Group president Van Toffler announced the creation of Artist.MTV, a far-reaching platform that the company will launch in full this summer, after a beta period in the coming months.

The platform aims to be an all-encompassing site for bands to build up MTV webpages, make announcements, stream music and video, sell tickets, music and merchandise and incorporate content from other social networks.

“There is infinite choice out there,” Toffler said, “but with this artist platform, we can help fans organize the chaos, connect with artists directly, and unearth those musical gems that truly deserve to shine.”

Per Shannon Connolly, MTV Networks’ VP of digital music strategy, the company aims to expand its current bandwidth from 10,000 individual band pages to more than 1 million by launch, which will be timed to coincide with the VMAs.

While established artists will certainly be targeted, Connolly said the platform is equally well suited to lesser-known or unsigned bands, noting that “we’re really building it for the 99% of bands.”

Popularity on the site could lead to integration with MTV’s TV networks, as well. For one, MTV Networks will launch a program under the working title “Full Frontal,” which will provide under-the-radar acts selected by crowdsourcing with facetime and exposure on the network’s channels. But as Connolly pointed out, the site could also serve as a pipeline to more low-key exposure on the networks.

“On MTV, we have over 200 song cues per day, and most of those come from unknown artists,” she said.

Artists.MTV is also partnering with e-commerce startup Topspin to make sure musicians are paid for sales on the site, and will even include a digital tip jar for fans to donate to their fave bands.

Elsewhere, streaming services repped some of the the biggest stories out of SXSW’s technology summit, fortuitously timed to Billboard’s announcement that it would begin incorporating data from subscription music services into its Hot 100 singles chart calculations, as well as compiling an On-Demand Songs singles chart. … Spotify continued to expand its reach to a key 13th territory, launching Tuesday in Germany. As the world’s third-largest music market, Germany was among the last major holdouts for the service in Western Europe, with Spain, the U.K., the Netherlands and France having been onboard for some time. … However, Spotify will have to contend with its Stateside competitor Rdio, which beat it to Germany by several months. On Tuesday, the streaming service unveiled a redesign of its site, with an artwork-oriented display (adaptable to smaller screens), improved loading times and greater social integration. Rdio also announced that it had surpassed 15 million songs in its catalog. … Internet radio service Slacker announced a partnership with site Rockcityclub.com, bowing what it calls the first dedicated radio station for undiscovered artists.

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