MTV Launches Music Meter Artist-Ranking Service

New chart will track the popularity of new acts via social media buzz.

If you just went by the traditional music charts, you’d think that Susan Boyle is the hottest things since Willow Smith. But in many senses, you’d be wrong. On blogs, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites, you’re not likely to see people posting viral spoofs of Boyle’s videos (does she even have any?) or tweeting about her latest red-carpet appearance (does she make any?).

But with the launch of Music Meter on Tuesday (December 14), MTV is aiming to provide a new chart that gauges which artists are truly capturing the imagination of wired fans right now.

Instead of relying solely on conventional metrics such as CD sales or radio play, the Music Meter ranks the top 100 artists based on their social media buzz, streams on video sites, and radio and sales data, providing a real-time portrait of up-and-coming and talked-about artists.

Each listed artist is featured in a widget-like box with a drop-down menu that offers links to preview and purchase songs, as well as tabs with videos, photos, tweets, news stories and a bio. There’s also a “similar” button that will help users find other artists they might like based on those that have ranked on the chart.

“We have a long history at MTV of locking arms with artists in the beginning of their careers and providing them with an opportunity to grow their audience base,” says MTV spokesperson Kurt Patat. “And you have lots of chances to discover music by Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, so when we were thinking about what we wanted the Music Meter to be, we thought of it as a discovery tool people can come to and find new music.”

Unlike the recently launched “Ultimate Chart,” a similar digital-media-fueled site from analytics company Big Champagne, or Billboard magazine’s new “Social 50″ tally, which ranks the most-active artists on social-networking sites, MTV’s Music Meter isn’t topped by such usual suspects as Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas and Bieber.

So, despite their viral strength, you won’t find many of those chart kings and queens at the top of the Music Meter (though you can search for them if you want and get all the same details). Instead, it’s an eclectic mix of acts known and lesser known — country, pop, hip-hop and world music — whose sounds people are digging at this moment.

On Tuesday (December 14) morning, the list was topped by “Cooler Than Me” singer [artist id=”3559974″]Mike Posner[/artist], followed by hard rockers [artist id=”3708266″]My Darkest Days[/artist], country singer [artist id=”3215616″]Easton Corbin[/artist], rapper [artist id=”3443335″]Waka Flocka Flame[/artist], new wave revivalists [artist id=”3466729″]Neon Trees[/artist], country gal [artist id=”2440928″]Sunny Sweeney[/artist], R&B singer [artist id=”1875398″]Jazmine Sullivan[/artist], reality-TV singer [artist id=”3824185″]Jackie Evancho[/artist], superduo [artist id=”3226420″]x and San Francisco indie rockers Girls. Further down the chart you will find everyone from up-and-coming rockers the Ready Set[/artist] (#12) and singer-songwriter [artist id=”1906621″]Matt White[/artist] (#19) to rapper [artist id=”2043244″]Yelawolf[/artist] (#14) and Romanian singer [artist id=”3476033″]Edward Maya[/artist] (#27).

And that’s the point, according to Patat. If the big stars were included, Music Meter would hardly change from day to day. This way, music fans can get exposed to a universe of acts that they may have never heard of or seen before and expand their horizons. The website will officially launch in March, but the beta site is up now. Patat says it’s the first of several exciting music products MTV plans to roll out over the next year.

“MTV has played the role of curator for a long time and with so much music out there and everyone having access to thousands of songs, sometimes it’s hard to know what to listen to,” he explains. “So we’re giving you what the world is saying is cool and allowing you to discover much more from there.”

What’s your opinion on MTV’s Music Meter chart? Share your thoughts in the comments.