By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – MTV is harnessing its roots in the pop music world to showcase a crop of rising artists with its annual ‘Artists to Watch’ campaign, selecting acts from across the world to bring to its youth audience.
British alt-pop band Bastille, Scottish electro-pop group Chvrches and girl group Fifth Harmony are three of 12 up-and-coming acts chosen by MTV as ones to watch.
The ‘Artists to Watch’ program helps expose rising stars in the music world to MTV’s target audience, and is an evolution of the network’s early intentions to showcase artists making waves in the pop music zeitgeist.
“Music videos are still an important part of a music experience, but it’s not everything,” Amy Doyle, MTV’s executive vice president of music and talent programming, told Reuters.
“We really took the cue from the audience and they don’t want just music videos. They really want to get to know the artist through their interviews and live performances,” Doyle added.
Bastille and Chvrches have both been gaining prominence in the United States through live performances and radio play, while Fifth Harmony, formed on U.S. reality TV talent competition “The X Factor,” have found an audience through the show’s fan base.
MTV’s ‘Artists to Watch’ campaign selects 12 up-and-coming acts spanning all popular music genres from across the world, and gives each act a two-week slot in which the artist or band is showcased across all of the network’s music TV channels and online, mobile and social media platforms. Each act will also have a chance to perform at MTV’s annual televised Movie Awards and Video Music Awards.
The Viacom-owned youth entertainment network has a good track record of showcasing artists on the brink of success, including teen YouTube sensation Justin Bieber, R&B singer Miguel and indie-pop singer Lana Del Rey in recent years.
In 2013, MTV picked New Zealand alt-pop singer Lorde and Seattle rapper-producer duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis as artists to watch, and both acts landed multiple Grammy nominations.
This year’s roster includes Detroit rapper Danny Brown, Chicago hip hop artist Vic Mensa, Dutch electronic dance music (EDM) DJ Martin Garrix, British pop group Rixton, Los Angeles soul singer Jhene Aiko, alt-pop group Echosmith and Australian EDM DJ Flume.
The campaign will kick off on January 23 at famed Hollywood music venue House of Blues, showcasing the rising acts ahead of the Grammy awards, when the music industry will flock to Los Angeles for music’s biggest night on January 26.
FROM DIGITAL PLATFORMS TO TV SCREENS
Other 2014 “artists to watch” have been mined from the online world where they have grown a fan base through YouTube and social media platforms.
Singer-songwriter Tori Kelly, 21, has garnered more than 60 million views on her YouTube channel including 2 million views of her debut “Dear No One” music video, and hip hop artist Jake Miller, also 21, has racked up more than 25 million views on his YouTube platform.
But while aspiring singers have been able to build a fan base through digital media platforms, MTV’s added TV exposure is part of the benefit of being selected as an artist to watch.
“The campaign is exposure to people that you wouldn’t normally reach, it’s people watching TV and the Internet,” said Allison Kaye, general manager of SB Projects LLC, the company headed by Scooter Braun, who discovered Bieber on YouTube and became his manager.
Braun and his team represent Kelly, Rixton and Garrix.
“Knowing that MTV is behind an act is so important to us and the artist. It helps artists reach people,” Kaye added.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)