Star-making television contests are far from guarantees of fame and fortune for the winning musicians—just ask American Idol champs Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard, and Lee DeWyze; or Making The Band participants Da Band and Day26. Still, the entertainment construct of the big music machine has churned out such vaunted vocalists as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phillip Phillips, and has even helped establish non-champs like Clay Aiken and Chris Daughtry as household names. (Not to mention getting Danny Gokey that sweet State Fair and LensCrafters money.) Bullshit as TV contests can be, any extra exposure can’t hurt an artist vying for ears in an era of abject audio over-saturation.
After first advancing to a field of 60, then cracking the top 24, Milwaukee-area native Tony Memmel, who recently relocated to Nashville, will be in New York City competing for the title of “You Oughta Know Artist” in VH1’s 24-hour “Make A Band Famous” competition Wednesday and Thursday. The singer-songwriter—who makes a living with a guitar in his hand, despite being born without a left hand or forearm—will take on 23 other relative unknowns (see contest title) in a series of “music-based challenges” and, if he advances to the finale round, will perform two original songs for judges.
In addition to the “You Oughta Know Artist” title, the winner receives promotional support on Viacom’s various channels and a recording (whether it’s a single or a full-length is not specified in the contest’s rules) with Republic Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. While “Make A Band Famous” seems like an ambitious project for a network that’s currently more synonymous with Basketball Wives than anything music-related, somebody is going to win this thing. Why not pull for the inspiring and talented one-armed guitarist with strong local ties?
Watch the live stream of the contest on VH1.com from 7 p.m. CST Wednesday, June 11; and 7 p.m. CST Thursday, June 12.