Dec 02, 2019

Sean “Diddy” Combs and MTV conducted a social-first, open casting call for the hit music competition’s reboot.


The band's back together—MTV and Diddy’s Making the Band, that is. But unlike past seasons, the revived music competition series is tapping social media to discover talent.

While MTV worked with multiple social media partners, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for the first phase of its cross-platform, global casting campaign, nearly 92% of the 540,000 singer, dancer, and musician submissions from around the globe came via Smule, a music app where users can sing or duet with people from across the globe.

“For the return of the Making the Band franchise, the casting call went global,” says Tyler Hissey, vp of marketing and social media at MTV, VH1 and CMT. “Our partnership with Smule offered us a chance to reach a huge population of music lovers and talented individuals worldwide who actively use the app.”

The show premiered on MTV in 2002—that's two years before Facebook’s founding—and Diddy scouted and auditioned performers in person. Social media has since become an important part of everyday life, providing performers worldwide with a launchpad to share their talents, gain a following, and jump start their music career (think big names like Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Troye Sivan, and Halsey).

So when Diddy and MTV began the search for the next breakout superstar, they recognized the necessity of a social-first campaign that emphasized raw, unscripted talent. That’s where Smule came in.

The Smule appeal

Smule is a global community of more than 52 million music lovers. The platform allows subscribers to sing and make music with friends and major recording artists, including Ed Sheeran, Demi Lovato, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth, and Camila Cabello. MTV partnered with the platform as part of the digital campaign for The Hills: New Beginnings,  letting users sing along with Natasha Bedingfield to her song “Unwritten."

“Our whole thing is about community,” explains Kevin Carson, svp of global artist and industry relations at Smule. “The way to think of us is really as a social network centered around music creation. What we’re seeing now is everyone wants to make music their own. They want to tailor the experience to themselves. So that's where this platform is powerful, as it lets users create their own versions of these songs, sing together, and share the stuff.”

When MTV partnered with the San Francisco-based company again for the Making the Band casting call, the response was overwhelming.

“Tyler introduced us to Smule, and it just took off,” says Deon Graham, digital director at Combs Enterprises, a portfolio of brands and businesses overseen by Diddy. “I think they had 500,000 submissions on launch week, which was shocking. But I guess it's because of how the platform is set up. It's almost perfect for auditions.”

Applicants uploaded their videos to Smule using #MTBcasting and could then create video auditions using a curated playlist of songs. They could then share those videos across their own social channels.

“There’s a sense of rawness that Smule allows for because it’s a group of music fans singing along to their favorite tracks with no filter,” explains Hissey. “The response on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube was also really strong, and videos on those platforms were a little more polished.”

"The talent search, the show, everything has to be social by design."

Deon Graham

Digital Director at Combs Enterprises

Carson explained that the app allows for a certain level of authenticity not present on other music-based platforms.

“Some people are complete perfectionists,” says Carson. “They want to be in studios, they want professional lighting and all of that. We're not a studio recording. We're just two people communicating.”

A talent search that’s ‘social by design’

The audience, which skews younger on these platforms,  craves authenticity from brands. MTV and Diddy also value realness, which is exactly what made the Making the Band reboot a winning collaboration.

“I think that's why Making the Band was successful the first time, because it was that first quote-unquote unscripted, you-never-know-what's-going-to-happen, reality-based show,” explains Graham. “That spawned off the whole genre of television. So now the first into the room on that is coming back.”

The difference this time is in how social media will play a major role in casting and content development.

“The talent search, the show, everything has to be social by design,” says Graham. “If you're not thinking like that right now, you're way off track. Some kid in Kentucky who now has access to the internet and may not be able to go to a casting uploads a video and it's seen now.”

The audition process for the show remains active. Beginning today, fans can apply at the official casting site, Applicants should also continue to upload submission videos to their social media platform of choice using #MTBcasting. The series is set to return to MTV in 2020.

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