VH1, Republic Records Partner on 24-hour Livestream Competition ‘Make A Band Famous’ (Exclusive)

The winner of the online competition will be signed to Republic Records, land a performance slot on Brooklyn’s Northside Festival and receive exposure on VH1’s “You Oughta Know” program.

VH1 and Republic Records want to make your band famous.

The music companies have partnered for an upcoming 24-hour livestream event that will find 24 unsigned bands competing for a grand prize that includes signing to Republic Records and exposure on VH1’s “You Oughta Know.”


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The online event, titled “Make a Band Famous,” will begin livestreaming on June 11 at 8 p.m. eastern through VH1.com and the VH1 App. During 24-hour show, which will based in Brooklyn and hosted by All-American Rejects frontman Tyson Ritter, 24 unsigned bands will be given various challenges and be eliminated through online fan voting and a panel of onsite judges (who are still being determined). The hour-by-hour tasks will include everything from learning a cover song in one hour and reimaging a classic hit with toy instruments to performing for money in the streets of Williamsburg. 

“It’s an interesting way of using the resources of VH1 to find something that’s great,” Republic executive VP Charlie Walk tells Billboard, “and then we come in and commit to the long-term process of giving them that opportunity to grow and have success.”

Starting today (May 1), unsigned musical acts can enter the competition by submitting a 15-second video of an original, unpublished track on Instagram using the hashtag #MABF, along with the group’s name with a hashtag. Entries will be accepted until May 15 and can be previewed at MakeABandFamous.VH1.com and MABF.VH1.com. Fans can vote by hashtagging their favorite act’s name plus #MABF. The talent teams at VH1 and Republic will review the final votes. During the actual show, fans can cast their votes through Twitter, Facebook and VH1.com.

“The whole goal of this is to make the band famous,” VH1 executive VP of talent and music programming Rick Krim tells Billboard. “The promotion itself is a big first step, but what will ultimately make the band famous is breaking the band through all the great things we do on our channel and partnering with a great label like Republic.”

Krim, who serves as an executive producer of the show, says musical acts from all genres can enter the competition. “We’re not specifying genre. It needs to be someone who is able to perform,” he says. “It’s not a singing competition. We’re calling it ‘Make A Band Famous,’ but if somebody were a singer-songwriter, they certainly would qualify.”

The 24 bands will be based inside a warehouse in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood and be given challenges throughout Williamsburg and McCarren Park in Greenpoint. Multiple cameras will broadcast uncut and uncensored streams for the entire 24 hours, allowing viewers to see performances, interviews and other behind-the-scenes footage.

In addition to signing to Republic and receiving exposure through “You Oughta Know,” the winning band will also land a performance slot at the Knitting Factory on June 12 as part of Brooklyn’s Northside Festival. Specific details about what the signing to Republic Records entails were still being determined at press time. But Walk says “Make A Band Famous” will accurately let fans determine what winning group deserves the label’s support.

“If you take the real-time data approach to what’s happening today in music, you know really quickly whether somebody likes something or not,” he says. “This will be a great case-in-point for watching over that 24-hour period what becomes the difference of good versus great. You’ll see that great rise accordingly, stamped by the audience.”

He adds, “It’s not necessarily Republic or VH1 executives sitting around saying, ‘we love this’ -- it’s the audience telling us.”

Krim says the idea for “Make A Band Famous” stems from a competition of the same name featured as part of the O Music Awards in 2013, which was another 24-hour streaming that appeared across MTV, VH1 and CMT. 

“We really liked the notion of it and it tied in well with our ‘You Oughta Know’ franchise, which is all about exposing and breaking new artists,” Krim says, noting that last year’s “Make A Band Famous” was an act called Darling Parade. “So we decided to turn ‘Make A Band Famous’ into it’s own thing.”

Krim also expects the show to attract sponsors and advertisers. “It’s certainly a good opportunity to do integration since we’re live,” he says, noting that nothing has yet been confirmed. “Certainly our ad sales and integrated marketing folks have been in the loop on this since day one and they really like the idea. There are a lot of opportunities to be creative.”