MySpace may now have its “American Idol.”
MySpace has partnered with talent competition network YOBI.tv for “Take the Stage,” a new singing competition that will air on the social giant starting Thursday.
Nine different artists will compete for $20,000 and a contract with Johnny Wright, the manager for pop giants such as Timberlake and the Jonas Brothers.
The show is part of MySpace's new direction since Specific Media took it over in June 2011, giving an ownership stake to Justin Timberlake and vowing to turn it back into a destination for music and discovery.
“One of the things Justin wanted to accomplish with MySpace moving forward is to make it that place of discovery where MySpace is a creative foundation for people to show who they are,” Wright told TheWrap.
To that end, unlike the contestants on “American Idol” and “The Voice,” the nine contestants on “Take the Stage” will perform their own music.
Wright said he thought that would better reveal their talent and spirit.
Also differentiating MySpace’s new show is that the fans “truly” choose the winner because there are no judges. That’s right, no vitriol from Simon Cowell or encouraging words from Cee-Lo Green.
Instead, Wright will serve as a mentor along with producer Rodney Jerkins, who has worked with the likes of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Both will offer sharp advice – Wright on stage presence and presentation, Jerkins on the songs themselves -- but neither will judge.
Also, none of the contestants will be eliminated until the very end. Instead, the show will air every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for 18 weeks. Fans will vote on MySpace throughout the process, and at the end a winner will be crowned.
“There was no pressure of anyone feeling they have to go home,” Wright said of the contestants, who have taped many of the episodes but not the finale. “When someone struggled, one of contestants had to help them out. It’s more of a bonding situation because [the contestants] knew it wouldn’t cause them to get eliminated.”
Roger Mincheff, President of MySpace Entertainment, said the company believes this show has franchise potential.
“This is symbolic of what the new MySpace is about," he told TheWrap. "MySpace has always been a platform for discovery and self-expression. We want to be known for bringing you fresh new talent like this. We want to be known in the artistic community as being a platform of opportunity.”
He said that the $20,000 prize was far less significant than the exposure and the chance to work with titans of the industry like Wright and Jerkins.
As for monetizing the show, Mincheff declined to cite specific brands that would sponsor but did note Specific Media's significant ad network.
So the challenge will be attracting viewers.
"The truth is, if we can make compelling video content the audience likes, we as a machine are built to monetize that," Mincheff said.