Esmee Denters was one of the first. The teenage singer-songwriter from the Netherlands built a YouTube following by being easy on the eyes and covering Justin Timberlake tunes. Then Timberlake signed her. Justin Beiber is the most successful. Music manager Scooter Bruan stumbled upon a YouTube video of the then 13-year-old and had him flown out to Atlanta to sign a record deal. Now Bieber’s in the running for a Grammy for Best New Artist.
Discovering the latest, greatest undiscovered talent on the internet is nothing new. Ever since would-be entertainers figured out how to operate webcams and YouTube, they’ve been recording and uploading unsolicited audition tapes for the entertainment industry to see. Documenting that discovery process, however, is new entertainment territory, at least when it’s done online.
Johnny Wright is one of the most successful music managers in the business, with an uber-popular pop star and boy band pedigree. His resume includes management gigs with New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, the Jonas Brothers, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears. And he’s looking to discover his next act online.
Wright’s partnered with Cambio (the Jonas Brothers’ online, MTV killer) and AT&T’s U-verse for a 21-episode web series, On the Spot: Johnny Wright’s Quest for the Next Pop Sensation. Wright will accept audition tapes from aspiring musicians between the ages of 16 to 30, eventually selecting one individual or band in June 2011. He’ll pare down the playing field by way of time tested, Making the Band-like, reality television techniques of discovering pop stars. Basically, there will be a series of online challenges followed by a boot camp in Los Angeles.
Wright told the AP he’s often approached in public by wannabe artist who want to audition. Wright began recording the impromptu acts and uploading them to his website in order to gauge the response from fans. When Cambio approached him with the idea for a web series, he thought some kind of talent search would be a great fit.