NEW YORK — Diesel is abandoning the “American Idol”-like format of its annual competition to find the world’s newest and hottest music acts.

This story first appeared in the May 15, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company launched its Diesel:U:Music contest in Britain in 2001, just as the U.K.’s “Pop Idol” and its American offshoot were beginning to turn the tables on the music business by emphasizing the manufacture and marketing of an act over the discovery of new talent. The contest had artists vying for exposure and potential record deals, and even included an awards gala. In 2006, DUM shifted to an online format that allowed bands from around the world to post samples of their songs. It also permitted listeners internationally to vote on their favorite artists.

This year, Diesel has dispensed with the competition aspect and hopes to turn DUM’s Web site into a place where listeners can share their thoughts and connect over the bands.

“Diesel:U:Music has evolved into a social networking site for music,” said a Diesel spokeswoman. “Anybody anywhere can upload their music.”

Exposure from the program has been a boon to past participants, including artists like We Are Scientists, The Pistolas, The Infadels, The Bravery and Tom Vek.

Diesel also acquired a radio license in the U.K. allowing the brand to broadcast live sessions, audio diaries and documentaries 24 hours a day. The station will be live until May 30. Diesel said it intends to launch similar radio stations in countries such as Japan and France.

In the U.S., acts that generate the most buzz through the site will be given the opportunity to record their songs and give live performances at Diesel stores across the country.

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