VH1 Opens Career-Making ‘You Oughta Know’ Artist Sponsorship to the Public (Exclusive)

The network’s next sponsored emerging or unsigned musician will be chosen by fan votes for the first time in the channel’s history

From left, previous "YOK artists Emeli Sande, Ed Sheeran and Lorde. (VH1/Christie Goodwin/Charles Howells

Over the last eight years, VH1 has internally chosen its “You Oughta Know” sponsored artist. But for the first time the cable channel will give that choice to fans.

December’s “YOK” artist will be selected from submissions and then ultimately chosen by fan votes.

“We have been looking for ways to grow the franchise this year,” VH1’s executive vice president of music and talent programming Rick Krim told TheWrap exclusively.

“Our first ever ‘You Oughta Know Plus’ campaign with the band JOHNNYSWIM is one way we’ve done that. The ‘You Oughta Know In Concert Special’ is another. Also, with the development of our new artist platform and the success of ‘Make a Band Famous’ at the OMAs, plus the ‘YOK’ concert coming, we saw an opportunity to give more artists from all levels a chance. You don’t have to be signed to a label to be worthy of this opportunity,” Krim continued.

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Emerging and unsigned artists will have the chance to join the ranks of previously selected “YOK” artists like The Lumineers, Emile Sande and Ed Sheeran.

“The winner will receive a month-long TV, web, mobile and social awareness campaign,” Krim explained. “This includes significant cross-platform promotion via frequent music video plays, a custom promo spot, interviews on VH1’s music-oriented Tuner blog, VH1’s Top 20 Countdown, mention on VH1’s morning show “Big Morning Buzz Live” and much more.”

To enter, musicians can claim or create an artist page at Artists.VH1.com and then submit a music video for consideration. VH1 will narrow the submissions down to a final three. That’s where the fans take over. Starting Thursday, Nov. 7, fans can vote on their “YOK” pick and the December “YOK” artist will be determined by the votes. The winner will be announced on VH1’s morning show, “Big Morning Buzz Live With Carrie Keagan” on Friday, Nov. 22.

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“Lorde and HAIM are good recent examples of ‘YOK’ artists,” Krim said. “Timing is important: We champion each artist at just the right time as they are breaking, to help them go from cult favorites to a wider audience. They all have something already going on, but we are able to help take them to a higher level. In the case of Lorde, we exclusively streamed her album a week before release.”

Information on eligibility requirements, rules and voting for the contest can be found at DecemberYOK.VH1.com.

The contest is just the latest in VH1’s expansion of the “YOK” program, which has included the introduction of “You Oughta Know Plus,” which extends the network’s artist sponsorship to a year rather than a month, and the recently announced “YOK TV Concert” airing in November.

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Launched in 2005, “YOK” has introduced many new artists to a wider audience. Many have gone on to produce hit albums and garner industry acknowledgements such as Grammy wins and nominations. The cable channel sees the initiative as one of the ways VH1 honors its music roots.

“We learned a long time ago that there is a lot more to music on TV than just playing videos,” Krim said. “We’ve had great success with strategic music placements in our shows and various music events. Even our recent TLC movie is a version of music on TV. More music is being consumed now than ever. There is still an appetite for it if you deliver it in the right way.”