Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

Internet welcomes newcomers to Hollywood

Blinding spotlights; hot, sweaty fans; a six-digit record label contract and your voice broadcasting across radio stations everywhere.

As surreal as it may seem, the possibility of finding fame is not impossible this day thanks to our dear friend, the Internet. Back in the day when casting calls and auditions were a result of pure networking, it was virtually impossible for a regular, yet talented, person to be discovered. With the rise of several networking Web sites and online competitions, the world of rocker fame is slowly opening up to newcomer local artists and hopeful singer-songwriters.

Success stories on Web sites and infomercials are often questionable, but these are the real deal. On February 25, 2007, Billboard Magazine featured a cover piece on Esmee Denters, closet singer and Internet phenomenon. Beginning in August of 2006, Esmee posted several videos of herself singing popular songs on her sister’s webcam. Although she posted these in the spirit of fun and boredom, her page soon accumulated thousands of hits. The amount of subscribers awaiting new videos increased drastically within the next few months. Esmee received many offers from producers and managers, but shrugged them off as insubstantial jokes. After realizing these offers were, in fact, quite real, Esmee was recruited by Billy Mann, the mastermind behind pop sensations such as Teddy Geiger, Jessica Simpson, The Backstreet Boys and Pink. Within weeks she posted more videos and released a much awaited secret, her new contract with Tennman (Interscope Records), the brainchild of Justin Timberlake.

According to an online source, this made Esmee Denters, “the first amateur singer in history to go directly from a personal YouTube posting to commercially performing on a major stage.” Esmee opened for Timberlake’s tour this summer across Europe. Success story or not, you decide.

A better known group also has a lesser known story. Panic! At the Disco was discovered after posting a PureVolume link to their first two songs on Pete Wentz’s (Fall Out Boy) LiveJournal page; they had never played a show prior to being signed. The quirky band, comprised of four boys all under 21, immediately gained fans worldwide through Myspace, online sources and incredible shows. Their story shows how merely posting your talent on the Internet can attract some worthy audiences.

You may wonder how this all affects you, the starving musician on the verge of genius compositions. Well, my dear, nowadays we can all use the Internet to (try to) become famous. The discovery of Esmee has led to a flock of musicians, amateur filmmakers and actors posting their talents on the Web in hopes of being discovered.

From online competitions to free publicity, the Internet is now a goldmine of potential fans, managers and collaborators. Yahoo, Sony’s Crackle, Myspace, XM Radio and Famecast have all sponsored an online competition, whether a battle of the bands or a hip-hop showdown. On the publicity front, PureVolume, Myspace, YouTube, actorspages.org and iauditioned.com offer various free-publicity pages and forums.

Of course, the chances of being discovered are slim, but with enough perseverance and networking (online, of course) you may as well pack your bags for Hollywood. Oh, and, don’t forget talent. Go get ‘em, tiger!

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