A STABLE internet connection, a smartphone’s recording feature and camera, and a passion for music (and hopefully, talent) are all people need to share their music with the world. With the growth of the online music performing community, the livestreaming app Kumu latched on to the phenomenon and launched Sing for the Stars, an all-digital international singing competition.

Launched in 2018, Kumu currently has more than 10 million registered users from over 55 countries. Creators on the app share content ranging from gaming to food and cooking, financial tips to music and entertainment. The app currently houses the reality show Pinoy Big Brother and has also hosted auditions for Miss Universe Philippines 2022, and collaborated with the Star Cinema film Love at First Stream (2021).

When the live events sector shut down during the pandemic, musicians went online and held regular livestreams on Kumu to augment their income.

“We felt that it is only right that we create an opportunity that enables our artists to really shine,” Kumu Senior Vice-President for Strategy and International Anand Roy said in an online conference with press from Southeast Asia and the United States on March 11.

Departing from the conventional singing contest where performers travel to one venue and sing for the judges live, Sing for the Stars’ setups are done from the performers’ respective locations.

“I think the first and most prominent way that’s going to reshape the way talent searches are conducted is via the dissolution of geographical boundaries,” Mr. Roy said.

The contest also gives free rein of the performance to the singer. “The performer decides the setting, the background, and the setlist,” Mr. Roy said.

Joining Sing for the Stars as performance judges are four-time Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Michael Bublé, and Tony award-winning actress and singer Lea Salonga.

In the competition, both judges said they are on the lookout for the performer with a unique vocal tone.

“I’ll know who was exceptional to me the moment I hear that voice. And it won’t be because their pitch was so much better or because they can do these incredible runs. It will be because they have something in their voice that is so unique,” said Mr. Bublé during the online press conference.

“We’re looking for that voice, that tone that just makes you kind of stop and listen. I mean, there are great singers with wonderful voices. And then, there are the Frank Sinatra’s of the world,” Ms. Salonga said during the same Zoom session. “It isn’t that they’re more talented than the next guy, but there is something very special and unique that makes them who they are.”

Auditions began in February and the Kumu Music Team chose the Top 30 on March 12.

The next episode of the contest will be livestreamed on March 19, during which the Kumu Music Team and Warner Music Philippines will whittle the 30 down to 15 performers.

The Top 11 will move on to the final leg of the competition, while the remaining four will compete to secure their last chance to enter the finals.

The second runner-up will win a cash prize of $2,000; the first runner-up gets $4,000; and grand champion will take home $10,000, a one-year record contract with Warner Music, and have their own mini-concert inside the Kumu app, plus a one-on-one coaching session with Mr. Bublé.

“I think they can learn by being open and listening and studying and loving all kinds of music,” Mr. Bublé said of his advice to aspiring performers. “And if you’re an artist, and someone who has the ability to understand what makes other singers, great singers… you do have the ability to borrow and to grow into that.”

The livestream of Sing for the Stars is on www.kumu.live/kumumusic. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/kumuPH. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman