MTV UK & Ireland has now launched its annual viewer-led search for the best new music.

MTV’s Brand New for 2012 is based on its resident music experts scouring the globe over the past few weeks to find the very best in upcoming talent, and it has been announced that Context is the first ever unsigned act to enter the final 10, all of which will now go head-to-head to see who emerges as overall winner.

So…how did an unsigned act enter into the fray?

MTV UK & Ireland has tapped UK startup Musicmetric‘s technology to take fans’ online response to an artist into account by analyzing data from the social sphere.

Whilst ‘ones to watch’ lists have traditionally been compiled by those within the music industry, with more music fans discovering and interacting with music artists online it makes sense that looking at online buzz should play a part of Brand New for 2012. The metrics being charted also help to give a more realistic insight into how an artist will fare in the real world, given that it’s based on actual buzz being generated around them rather than the opinion of a few.

We first reported on Musicmetric last May, noting at the time:

“Musicmetric offers a varied range of tools to help those associated with the music industry better understand consumer behaviour and opinion around their music or their brand. Its proprietary technology trawls data from P2P networks, reviews, comments and opinions from millions of sources across websites, blogs and and social networks, displaying it in interactive charts and tables within a customer’s Musicmetric dashboard – all of which adds to data already mined from radio and direct music sales.”

From the start of the MTV competition, each artist has been tracked using statistics garnered through Musicmetric’s platform, including which artists have risen the most in terms of buzz; an aggregate of votes, plays, new fans and comments over the last 24 hours.

During the course of the unsigned competition, the 500-long list of artists generated 107,181 new fans, and 3,552,848 new plays. “We’ve broken new ground this year with the inclusion of unsigned acts – and the ability to measure and analyse online buzz was critical to our selection process,” says Matt Cook, Director of Talent and Music Programming at MTV UK. “Musicmetric proved the perfect partners, delivering detailed and clearly presented data which proved invaluable.”

For MTV to allow an unsigned artist onto its Brand New list, alongside more established acts such as Del Rey, based on online buzz is a big step. Working solely out of his bedroom on a shoestring budget, Context first began his journey in 2008. Since then, he’s earned critical acclaim both in the UK and abroad, from the likes of The Independent and at the MOBO Awards, and has had his music playlisted by both MTV and BBC Radio 1. And by winning a place on the MTV Brand New for 2012 list, 2012 has gotten off to a flyer for Context.

COntext 520x233 MTV monitors online buzz to name first ever unsigned act on its UK ones to watch list

“The incredible thing about working with the MTV Brand New Unsigned competition in this way has been the chance to surface these unsigned acts using metrics that have huge global influence but were being ignored traditionally,” says Marie-Alicia Chang, Co-Founder of Musicmetric. “It has been illuminating to observe how each artist has their own unique style of connecting to their fan base through social media. The artists who have been most successful have been sensitive to understanding what their fans react most positively to and have dedicated time to their online campaign. Perhaps unsurprisingly, once the tracks are up, the hard work the unsigned artist puts into marketing themselves shows a real impact on their visibility and buzz.”