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Can New MTVN Unit Put The ‘Music’ Back In ‘Music Television’?

It’s a running joke that MTV and VH1 barely play music videos anymore: both networks are more focused on airing shows like The Real World and Rock of Love that promote new music and artists as an afterthought. Fans have increasingly turned to YouTube and Yahoo Music for their music video fix, meaning fewer eyeballs for both TV networks—and a decrease in their effectiveness as a promotional medium for artists. (MTV launched its own online video portal at last October, but TV is still where the money is at.) So MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA) created a new unit whose job is to focus solely on weaving more new music into its original series, in an attempt to maintain MTV and VH1’s statuses as promotional vehicles of choice.

Joe Cuello will head up the new Creative Music Integration team as VP. Pairing original series with hot tracks has been his forte: he freelanced as a music supervisor for shows like Pimp My Ride and Making the Band, before joining MTV full-time as director of music/creative and licensing in 2006. (Rolling Stone even called him “one of the guys who makes The Hills rock.”)

The group also includes a trio of execs from both MTV and VH1, and the company says artists like pop-rock band Little Jackie have already seen tangible results from its work: Little Jackie was a featured artist in VH1’s New York Goes To Hollywood; promotions included song placements in several episodes, a free MP3 and ringtone offer, and an in-show appearance. Digital sales of the band’s single increased by 94 percent following Little Jackie’s appearance on the show, while full album sales increased 100 percent in the week following the show’s premiere, per SoundScan.