MTV Soundtrack: Lots of Experiments Going On Here

I'm still trying to get my mind around MTV's Soundtrack, in alpha as of today. It's a site that will try to blend artist and fan communities (with some social networking features from Flux) with editorial content and listening and discovery and, well, you see what I mean.

For one thing, Soundtrack's arguably most innovative feature is literally a soundtrack, that is, a navigation/programming music experience that's sync'd to what songs are playing on MTV shows in real time. Take a look, it's weird, but it's not much like anything you've seen before.

Jupiter surveys show that hearing a song on a TV show is a powerful discovery tool. MTV shows "The Hills" features 12 to 15 song cues a show, and "Parental Controls" up to 50. MTV will be steering viewers to Soundtrack with on-air pop-up prompts.

Soundtrack is all over the place, and it's definitely an alpha-release product right now. Playback without volume control? C'mon, guys. And there's some weird disconnects between 30 second clips and full-track streams. But I'm intrigued - intrigued, not convinced - by the idea of a network-centric, rather than show-centric (compare the CW) music programming approach.

MTV claims cred by emphasizing indie - read "unsigned" - bands, but hey, they're cheaper to license, too. The voting system is supposed to be, at least in part, a way for new bands to get the attention of the MTV "Music Supervisors" who program the music across all the MTV-owned shows. That's another interesting idea.

I've been impressed by MTV Networks's online strategy lately, particularly its embrace of syndication and modern network thinking. But when colleague Bobby Tulsiani asked the MTV execs if Soundtrack could be a platform for other networks or shows, MTV's attitude was no, its job is to support MTV. No revenue model yet, but it'll be way more about advertising than about Rhapsody song sales.

PaidContent's take.