To suit an altered music landscape, MTV is planning an untraditional award show celebrating digital music.
The network says it's prepping an as-yet unnamed, multiplatform award show for April or May that will exult digital music and its many varied incarnations.
The exact nature of the show hasn't yet been defined, but MTV says it will be a "multiscreen experience," including the Internet, social media and mobile — but not broadcast. Categories for awards haven't been determined, but they'll include things like best app, best blog, best Internet feud, best music meme of the year and best Kanye West tweet.
MTV hopes the show will do for digital music what its Video Music Awards did for the music video.
Van Toffler, president of MTV Networks Music and Logo Group, calls the planned show "an interactive musical mess" to celebrate both "the cool and the geekdom."
"It will be sloppy," Toffler says. "It will be interactive. It will be customizable. It will be fun and unexpected. Most shows on television are about what's popular, and I think this will be about what's bubbling up."
Toffler says he's unsure if the show will have a host or even a definable beginning and end. It could be anywhere from one to six hours long, he says, and won't be polished or linear like traditional award shows. Performances will be a central component.
The two flagship MTV award shows — the Video Music Awards (launched in 1984) and the Movie Awards (launched in 1992) — have defined themselves as looser, more youthful and more unpredictable alternatives to the established award programs.
MTV, which is part of the Viacom-owned MTV Networks, hopes to bring that ethos to digital music and, as Toffler says, "let the chaos run free."
The show represents another step in MTV's strategy of becoming increasingly "platform agnostic." It has put ever-increasing focus on its Web properties: MTV.com, CMT.com and VH1.com account for some 60 million unique visitors a month. It launched its own version of a music discovery site, www.mtvmusicmeter.com, which ranks acts by social media buzz. And it hired a "Twitter Jockey," a new media version of its VJs.
"It's no mystery that there's a renaissance of creativity and innovation in music across the digital platforms," Toffler says. "It feels like in spite of all the pundits writing about the death of the music industry, there's still a great passion for music and connection between fans and artists and music in the digital space."