Stars wanted: Agencies scouring the Web

Agencies are aiming to find fresh new talent through UCC, but industry insiders question how ‘fresh’ the idea actually is.

Agencies and companies seeking “stars” are increasingly conducting auditions that incorporate user-created videos. Not only is the posting of such videos being encouraged on the Internet, but there is also a growing number of mobile portals for such clips.
SBSi recently opened a mobile music portal channel called SBS Music Star. It features the broadcasting company’s music-related programs such as concerts, variety shows with musicians and talk shows featuring musicians. The service is interactive, and viewers can watch the programs by phone and take part in voting in polls or participating in talk show discussions by calling in.
This channel also has an open audition feature where mobile users can upload their clips to potentially be featured in a music program.
The Web-based video portal Mgoon formed an alliance with JYP Entertainment, an entertainment firm founded by the musician Park Jin-young.
Last week, the two companies announced that they are holding online-off-line auditions for wannabe musicians. Applicants to the entertainment firm don’t have to upload a video to the portal in order to audition, but they get extra points if they do.
The Gyeongju World Culture Expo, in which 30 countries participated, is also seeking young talent through online user-created content. It features visual and participative art such as music and dance, and includes a user-created content event in which anyone can upload their “talent” to the Internet.
Until Aug. 25, SK Telecom is holding auditions for preschool children. Seven children will be selected to become members of the group “Seven Princesses.” Seven Princesses is a child group that debuted in 2004 and garnered great popularity with their babyish voices. The group’s lineup has changed several times since then. Video clips can be uploaded to the Web site http://www.01star.co.kr.
Agencies are aiming to find fresh, new talent through this medium, but industry insiders question how “fresh” the idea actually is, because a lot of the star-making user-created videos were in fact put together by professionals, and the artists themselves did not just get suddenly swept up in Cinderella-type stories.
For instance, 17-year-old Xeno, a female singer who became popular after three videos of her singing circulated widely on the Internet, was not a student who just happened to upload a video on the Net. She had been training in singing and dancing for three years with a record label that had high hopes for her talent.

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