Do you often think you could be the next overnight sensation if only the right person saw your act? Are you the next Beyoncé, Axl or Sting?

Then point your browser at and enter the site’s talent search. By partnering with Clear Channel Radio and Epic Records, Music Nation has launched one of the biggest talent quests to date. Three winners will seal recording deals with Epic.

But wait a minute. Hasn’t this been done before? What about “Star Search” or “American Idol”? Or, for that matter, what about “The Gong Show”? The search for new talent is almost as old as the entertainment industry itself, and it was only six years ago when another Web talent search – – offered a record deal to the best of the best unsigned talent. What’s so different about Music Nation?

“I think for us, it’s about the focus. And our focus is on building sustainable careers for these artists,” Music Nation CMO Lucas Mann told Pollstar. “With an eye to that, the way we built this entire thing, it wasn’t about flash, it wasn’t about TV, it wasn’t about pizzazz. What it was really about, is how can we empower these artists?”

Music Nation’s game plan is simple enough. Aspiring artists can go to the Web site and upload videos in rock, pop and urban genres. The voting begins January 15th and the competition runs for 15 weeks. Two videos – one picked by voters, the other by yet-to-be-named celebrity judges – will be selected each week for each genre and entered into the quarterfinals.

Voting will reset each week during the initial 12 weeks of the contest, meaning that if your video doesn’t win enough votes during the first week, it still might clinch a pole position in the weeks ahead. Plus, the voting reset puts latecomers on equal footing with bands and artists that entered during the early weeks of the competition.

After 12 weeks, the quarterfinal winners will be narrowed down to a semifinalist round, which, in turn, will be shaved down to a finals round during week 15. A winner from each genre will then receive a recording contract with Epic Records and be featured on “Stripped,” Clear Channel Radio’s exclusive performance series. is now in beta testing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sign up today. In fact, now is the best time to enter. That’s because there is no entrance fee through December 31st. Once the new year begins, the entrance fee is $25.

But the Music Nation talent search is doing more than showing videos on its Web site. The company’s alliance with Clear Channel Radio means local radio personalties will spearhead artist participation, promote local performances and host weekly Webisodes. It’s a talent search designed to cultivate the cream of the unknown crop at the grassroots level, a chance for everyone itching for stardom to take that very first step.

“What I think is really interesting about it is that some are the Web cam guys with the guitar videos and the songs are great, and some are more slickly produced videos that people have put together,” Mann said. “And I think they all speak in different ways to people. One of the other differences between us and some of the competitions that have done this before is that we wanted this to be a dual-format competition. It’s not just audio, it’s also video. Video in the presentation of an act has become, in some pieces of music, very integral. We wanted to develop on that idea.”

Then there is the whole viral marketing aspect. Along with uploading videos, contestants can create their own personal Web pages at, after which they can post their videos on other popular Web sites such as MySpace and YouTube, leading voters back to their home page.

Founded earlier this year and headquartered in New York City, Music Nation boasts an executive lineup starring former DoubleClick president and CEO Kevin Ryan as chairman. Also included in the mix is VNU / Nielsen Entertainment Group past president Peter Read as the company’s managing director, and Passion Music founder Daniel Claus filling out the CEO shoes.

“[Music Nation] came into existence with this as the cornerstone idea,” Mann said. “We’ll be making some announcements as to what our other business lines are, but this is what the company was built around.”

But don’t think Music Nation is only interested in rock, pop and urban. That’s just a starting point, and the company is looking forward to including other genres including world music, jazz and Latin music in future competitions. According to Mann, all Music Nation projects will center on the concept of artist development.

“What this is about for us,” Mann said, “is we’re not doing this for any reason other than trying to create a community for these artists. We’re trying to create distribution. We’re trying to create an audience and we’re trying to help them create their career. For us, that’s really what the core of this is about.”