Ricky Martin probably never guessed when he joined Menudo in the ’80s that it would live on forever. But every few years, a new iteration of the iconic Latin boy band pops up, with the mission of keeping it young and fresh.
To that end, a new music talent search competition, Menudo – En Busca de la Nueva Generación [Menudo – In Search of the Next Generation], is underway to find new members of the band, originally formed in 1977 in Puerto Rico. This time, there’s a twist — the 16-week search will be conducted online, and determined through direct social media fan engagement. At the end of the competition, running July 1 to Aug. 30, five winners will be offered a music contract with Menudo Entertainment, the same company that revamped the Menudo brand in 2004, when it acquired all property and merchandising rights from music executive Oscar Lloyd.
Since its inception, Menudo has kept its members younger than 20 years old, and in this newest search, only male contestants ages 10 to 15 need apply. Video submissions will be made through Showpitch.com, and the top 25 finalists (selected by fans online) will be flown to Miami for the finals, during which they will audition live for a panel of celebrity judges (yet to be announced). The new digital concept is a collaboration between Showpitch, Menudo Entertainment and the Telemundo Station Group (comprised of 17 local television stations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico).
In its heyday, the band that launched Martin’s career caused stampedes, played stadiums around the world, and sold millions of records. In recent years, Menudo went the bilingual route and recruited members beyond those of Puerto Rican descent, expanding its reach within the U.S. Hispanic demographic.
This isn’t the first time Menudo is chronicling its search for the next generation in a big way. Nearly 10 years ago, Menudo Entertainment partnered with Epic Records and producer Ben Silverman (The Biggest Loser, The Office) for a 2007 MTV reality series titled Making Menudo. The winners in that search recorded an album for the label and were co-managed by Johnny Wright, who once managed New Kids on the Block and ‘N Sync (and still manages Justin Timberlake under his company, Wright Entertainment Group).
Showpitch founder and CEO J.P. Fatta sees this new search, which is sponsored by Honda, as a big opportunity. “The Menudo talent search comes at a time when the digital era is in its prime with millennials interacting on social media more than ever,” Fatta said in a statement. “Showpitch.com was created to give undiscovered talent opportunities to connect with industry insiders, showcase their work and ultimately get discovered. The Menudo talent search is just one example of how brands can partner with Showpitch, and together can help launch the careers of aspiring talent.”
Showpitch counts two seasoned Latin music executives as part of its biz development division: Robert Rivera, who has developed concert series for A-list Latin acts at major casinos and nightclubs including MGM Grand Las Vegas and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino; and Marco Bissi, who has held top jobs at EMI Music, Universal Music Mexico, and Sony Music International.
But Menudo – En Busca de la Nueva Generación isn’t the only game in town. Univision’s new reality singing competition La Banda — which counts Menudo alum Ricky Martin as a judge and producer, as well as Simon Cowell as an executive producer — will also be conducting a nationwide search for Latin music’s next big boy band. Auditions are already underway and the series will air on the network starting in September.