Promo impact of TV debated on first panel.

The promotional impact of television and the "American Idol" model were ideas in focus at the “TV Star” panel which opened this year's Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards in Miami.

“People, particularly the younger audience, are moving away from radio and looking for their icons on television,” said moderator Tamara Conniff, executive editor/associate publisher of Billboard Information Group. “The power of television has never been more important in exposing musicians.”

Reality TV, particularly programs in any number of nations that have adopted the “American Idol” model, have become a primary platform for not only breaking new artists, but selling the music of acts that guest star on the shows or whose music is performed by contestants.

Stephanie Fisch, senior VP of Endemol USA Latino, pointed out that David Bisbal, winner of reality show Operación Triunfo, went on to sell millions of albums and win a Grammy Award following his TV exposure. All 16 finalists of the show’s first season released singles; at one point, seven slots among the Latin Pop top 10 were occupied by the contestants.

“The audience feels like they are part of the story,” said Arturo Velasco, director of Televisa Musica. “They’re involved, so they become invested in these artists.” He added that in the Latin entertainment industry, reality shows have supplanted soap operas as the most effective way to expose and ultimately sell Latin music on TV. “New generations aren’t going to sit through a 3-minute song in a soap. They need to be entertained faster, or they will turn to the remote, or their DVD player or X-Box. The monitor is no longer just a TV screen,” he said.

The session also addressed ways for developing artists to get their music or songs exposed—and the panelists stressed that camping outside a record executive’s office in hopes of gaining fame and fortune is seldom realistic anymore. A more likely alternative: again, television.

“There are many roads to follow to be a singer or a composer,” said Jack Alfandary, VP of licensing and new business development for Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets for Fremantle Media Licensing Worldwide. “You have to be very clear with your objectives, but more than anything, the most critical aspect is creativity. In the music world and in the TV world, creativity is welcome. If you have the talent to combine the two, you’re in an even better place.”

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