Over the course of 2012, two general ideas for reality television featuring DJs emerged. The first began as a partnership between Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Will Smith’s Overbook Entertainment, and when the idea was first announced in January 2012, the statement mentioned the talent mogul and the rapper-turned-actor had been working on it for a year.
As to why Cowell decided to add this show to his extensive line of reality television competitions, on which he served as a producer or judge, he told the press, “DJs are the new rock stars; it feels like the right time to make this show.”
Nevertheless, what could have been a hokey and poorly executed mess fell through because of conflicts. Sources explained the two companies fought over top billing and had “deal points” that couldn’t be worked out.
But, if Cowell and Smith give off the vibe of uninformed and square, the casting company behind the Jersey Shore, which also thrust EDM into the mainstream in 2009, shockingly seems like a better choice for such an endeavor. As Mixmag reports, casting for an EDM reality/competition show, via website EDMCasting.com, shows that a program for aspiring DJs is in the works. Doron Ofir, who put together the Shore cast, claims his company isn’t associated with the show.
If the first EDM reality TV show of its kind is to premiere in the near future, starting with the Jersey Shore is a lukewarm copout. After all, Pauly D already has his reality show about his life as a fledgling producer. However, in spite of reality TV’s set concepts and formulas (Contrasting personalities! Star mentoring! Challenges!), an EDM-focused program could be executed much better than a Shore knockoff. Here are some ideas that could make such a show work:
DJ versus DJ
Although a growing genre, EDM artists are still lesser-known than other mainstream performers. A reality television competition, one bringing top DJing talent to prime time, might turn other artists into household names on par with Tiesto and David Guetta.
Clubs and festivals feature DJ battles, so why not bring the concept to the small screen? Moderately-known artists face-off each other: Dirty South vs. Sander Van Doorn, Boys Noize vs. TyDi, Otto Knows vs. Porter Robinson (the combinations can go on and on). On top of that, they have to step out of their comfort zone by using unfamiliar equipment: a DJ used to his laptop and USB drive would have to do a set on turntables with vinyl, for instance.
Take a Page from America’s Next Top Model
There’s a good reason Tyra Banks’ reality television competition has been on television for nearly a decade, albeit it hasn’t ever launched a successful model: the formula of catty competition, out-there challenges, and Banks’ character as a judge. This past season, the College Edition, pushed the envelope even further, incorporating social media into the weekly stay-or-leave decisions for each contestant.
Social media has propelled EDM upward and, as we have discussed, a driving force behind the genre. So, with latest ANTM’s formula tweaked to involve production- and gear-related challenges, the fans already on Facebook and Twitter may naturally get involved.
Like American Idol but Better
Love him or hate him, Cowell has created the definitive music reality TV competition formula. But what does the tight shirt-wearing Brit (or any from his judging panels, for that matter) know about electronic dance music? Bring in the novices and the producers who can’t catch a break, take out the snark, and add some industry mentors from the DJing, production, and label-management angles.
Behind the Scenes
Richie Hawtin, in talking about his CNTRL tour recently spoke about having European electronic artists breakthrough in North America, and that was one of his goals, beyond educating fans, on his recent U.S.- and Canada-hitting outing. Yet, back in 2004 and ’05, audiences watched a mediocre-at-best singer of a B-list pop star sister get groomed for superstardom on The Ashlee Simpson Show. Why not, instead, see an already-practiced performer attempt to get greater visibility in the U.S.? In this case, The Richie Hawtin Show would be a far less painful experience to sit through.