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Singers Find New Ways to ‘Get Discovered’ Without Waiting in Line at American Idol
New websites allow anyone with an internet connection, a microphone, and a webcam to get their shot at stardom. You audition, America decides...
October 6, 2006 - The next American Idol may never be on the show. He or she may never see Randy, Paula, or Simon before building a huge worldwide fan base of their own, getting their own record deal, and becoming a bit of a celebrity. And all this without ever leaving the house.
Websites like Bix.com provide anyone the ability to submit their own video karaoke performance online for free, 24/7. Simply choose the song you want from their list, sing it into your webcam and your video automatically uploads to their site. Next, ask a few friends to vote for you, and suddenly you may find yourself in the running of a major nationwide singing contest, with record label execs watching your every move.
It can be a tremendous boost to your singing career without all the hassle (time, energy, travel) required for American Idol.
I know firsthand what people go through during those tryouts, because I am one of them.
Not sure if it's the "get rich quick" or "overnight success" mentality or just the chance to get on TV, but every year, more than 100,000 people try out for talent shows like American Idol. Add in "Dancing with the Stars," or "Rock Star: Supernova," and that number grows closer to half a million!
People ask me all they time why I tried out. "Why'd you put yourself through all that?" they ask. "Do you really think you're a better singer than the 10,000 other people you stood in line with?"
Truth be told, it's that elusive shot at fame. It's like playing the lottery. You know you can scratch off 100 tickets and still win nothing, but that little voice inside your head says, "Yeah, but what if you try just once more? You just might hit it big."
"What if Simon picks you? What if you make it to the final round and suddenly all of America knows your name and your hometown and just how good you can really sing?"
And so... against all odds, we voluntarily put ourselves through the dreaded tryouts. Here's how mine went:
The alarm clock buzzed again at 4am the morning of the audition, and I subconsciously hit the snooze a couple of times before I remembered what day it was. We grabbed our pre-packed lunches and protein bars and hopped in the car 2 hours before sunrise and sped to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where we proceeded to join the cast of thousands of hopefuls already in line. (5:30 am)
After 2 hours in line, the sun started to come up, and we had moved a good 20 feet or so.
Finally, with wristbands intact and stadium seats procured, we got through the gates about 9am, and the boom cameras rolled, taking shot after cheesy shot of a falsely hyped-up crowd pretending to be ecstatic to be there. (Side note: it's awfully hard to act energetic when you've been on your feet for 5 or 6 hours straight with the August sun beating down on you.)
More time ticked by... Some people were singing. Some were blabbering about how great they were and how they shouldn't even have to try out. One guy proclaimed he could have easily been in the top 5 finalists last year. It's just that his voice got "a little dry" when he first auditioned... riiight...
So we sat and sat, in cramped little Rose Bowl stadium seats built for skinny short people, baking in the Southern California sun until about 1pm, when they finally called our group number. I stood in a group of 4 pretty darn good singers, complete with catchy outfits and good looks to match. We each took our turn in front of a junior producer at one of 14 booths lined up on the opposite side of the stadium, trying to sing loud enough to wow the judge over the neighboring booths.
I belted out Amazing Grace to the best of my ability. Complete with bluesy slides in my own unique arrangement I'd never heard anyone do before, sure that they'd appreciate my throwback to Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.
But my best effort just wasn't good enough for this producer. In fact, no one from our group got through. Maybe it was the heat or the dehydration. Maybe the producer we got was just having a bad day. Either way, I went to all that effort for nothing. Or so I thought...
On the way out of the stadium, thoroughly exhausted and sunburned, someone handed me an invitation to try out for something called an "Online Second Chance" contest. A bit jaded from the whole experience, I said, "Thanks but no thanks," and kept walking.
I let that invitation sit on my desk for a month before I finally picked it up and went to the website. When I realized what a cool opportunity this was, I had to rush, because there were only 9 days left in the contest.
Within 72 hours, my audition skyrocketed. People discovered me! My version of the song "Chariot" (Gavin DeGraw) took second place in the Audio category, which made me a Top 10 Finalist overall, heading into the final round, where I'm competing right now against 9 other finalists.
This time I'm singing another Gavin DeGraw hit called "I Don't Want to Be."
I'm still pinching myself, but in the last 3 weeks, I've earned over 1,500 new fans, emailed back and forth with record label execs, and am competing for a cash prize that will more than pay for a real record in a real studio with a real producer. Not bad for never leaving the house.
If you are - or have ever wanted to be a singer - I recommend you take your shot online.
To view my Bix.com submission and vote, visit http://www.bix.com/entry/9015. But hurry, the contest ends Oct 14.
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