Usher is the latest artist to moonlight as a c-level executive for a technology company. The R&B veteran is now ‘chief creative officer’ of startup Megastar, as well as an investor in the company.

It’s the latest firm trying to launch an X Factor-style global talent contest via a smartphone app, also called Megastar. In this case, it’s offering a top prize of $1m to people willing to upload videos of their talents in music, dance, sports, comedy, magic, variety and ‘extreme’ (presumably sports).

We say ‘global’ – the first iteration of Megastar is focusing on English-speaking countries: the US, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand. However, the company says that India, Spain and Latin America, China and Indonesia are on its radar for future spin-offs.

Fans will vote for their favourite entrants via the Megastar iOS and Android app. Cue yah-boo-sucks-to-gatekeepers quotes.

“It provides talented people a free platform where they can get global exposure without the traditional gatekeepers,” said Usher.

Past attempts at using digital media for this kind of contest haven’t been successful though: Syco’s ‘The You Generation’ ended up pivoting into a YouTube MCN before shutting down, while mobile startup Chosen – the obvious comparison to Megastar – made its own pivot to a music-clips app called before closing its doors this year.

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