Mobile VAS company Spice Digital will power the “Mobile Audtion” for, as well as sponsor Surtarang, the annual national talent hunt for singers organized by the Sangam Kala Group (SKG), an NGO/Non-Profit. The competition has been in existence for 36 years, and has discovered singers like Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal & Sunidhi Chauhan. Singers will be short listed via the mobile auditions will gain entry to the regional rounds of the competition, held at 60 centers across India, the winners of the regional rounds will participate in the national round. For applications, there’s a demo on how to apply, here (requires Flash). A few things to note about this rather interesting service:

— Mobile Radio Integration: So what’s the entry fee? Those registering will be subscribed to Music Radio powered by Spice (Airtel Mobile Radio, Vodefone Music Junction, Idea Music Station and Live Auditions) priced at Rs.30 with a month’s validity. We think it’s an excellent business idea, but forced subscription for a month? What’s good is that users listening to the auditions can vote on Mobile Radio can vote for them. We think Spice should, at some level, give unique caller IDs to participants (an additional suffix) to finalized participants, allowing them to solicit votes via unique IDs, and encourage listening to songs. But we dont quite like the idea of each caller being subscribed to Mobile Radio…Rs. 30 for a vote is much too high.

— Copyright: According to the terms and conditions, “a song/ voice once recorded into the system/server of Spice, becomes the proprietary and copy-right of Spice and it reserves the right to use the records for future purposes in any manner whatsoever it shall deem fit for promotional and / or commercial activity(ies) & the participants agrees to waive all rights in this regard.” All rights? We hope Spice is only referring to copyright, and not moral rights.

— Registration & Participation: According to Spice’s website, once registered, each participant would be recognized through his/her unique Mobile no. In order to participate in the Contest user needs to record a song for a minimum of 90 seconds duration, and submit any two for evaluation.

— Independent auditions: this isn’t the first instance of mobile auditions for a singing competition in India: Airtel had powered mobile auditions for Indian Idol almost five years ago, but, hankering after the ‘exclusive’ tag, was restrictive in its approach by allowing only Airtel subscribers to audition. In this case, the base is wider (Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Tata).

— Going beyond main towns and cities: with time, the mobile is going to become the medium for media interaction: which other medium has as widespread an outreach? One challenge that talent hunts face globaly is the limitation of their reach to main towns and cities, and for them to expect potential participants to invest in coming for those auditions. Surtarang probably already has the widest reach, covering regional rounds at more than 60 centers across the country…The mobile device addresses these issues, and maybe some day we will have video based auditions.

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