Websites Audition To Become Digital ‘American Idols’

A number of online startups want to bring American Idol-like talent contests to the internet, the Boston Globe points out: sites like OurStage and HowFamous have recently raised financings for their respective ventures. Others, like Bix recently tried to gain attention when its founder actually tried out with others to audition for American Idol. While he didn’t make it to primetime, it wasn’t a total loss, as Bix got acquired by Yahoo three months later. The sites are trying to draw acts and viewers through a variety of prizes. OurStage plans to hand out $5K prizes to competitors each month, one for musicians and another for filmmakers, as well as the promise to open doors of key industry events like New York’s CMJ Music Marathon or a showing at Utah’s Slamdance Film Festival. Bix tries to lure talent a $50,000 cash prize and a recording session with Capitol Records.

In terms of generating revenue, OurStage plans to charge users for texting in votes from their cellphones, once competitions reach the stage where just 10 finalists remain…Additionally, OurStage will sell advertising and, starting next month, it will charge 99-cents to download music recorded by the artists featured on the site, two-thirds of which will go to the artist and one-third to the site. For its part, Bix hopes companies will be willing to pay to create contests on the site — for instance, a toothpaste company might sponsor a competition for America’s best smile.