Covers have long been the lifeblood of YouTube.
Justin Bieber and Alessia Cara both sang covers on the video-sharing website before they shot to stardom. And it was a 2006 cover of Backstreet Boys' ballad "As Long as You Love Me" that first gave longtime Google executive and now YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki the idea that the search giant should buy the streaming platform.
YouTube is drawing on this history for its latest original series, a competition series called Best.Cover.Ever that will shine a spotlight on up-and-coming musicians.
From Ryan Seacrest Productions and Endemol Shine North America, Best.Cover.Ever will give musicians the opportunity to record covers of popular songs from recording artists including Backstreet Boys, Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo and Charlie Puth. The competition will culminate in a duet between the winner and each recording artist.
Ludacris has signed on to host the series, which will become available toward the end of the year.
"YouTube is the best place for emerging musicians to be discovered, and Best.Cover.Ever. will encourage these artists to go for their dreams alongside the best in the business," YouTube global head of original content Susanne Daniels said Wednesday in a statement. "We're thrilled that Ryan Seacrest will give new talent the opportunity to shine in front of over 1 billion fans around the world."
Added Seacrest, "Cover songs are a terrific vehicle to help discover fresh talent, and YouTube is the perfect platform to do it. These new young artists will also have the chance to work alongside some of the most renowned musicians in the world, which we hope will generate some great experiences for the artists and contestants alike, and in turn produce some memorable performances."
The competition kicks off Wednesday with calls for submissions from Backstreet Boys, Lovato and Derulo. They will ask emerging musicians to upload covers of their hits - "As Long as You Love Me," "Confident" and "Trumpets" - to YouTube through May 19. Other artists will add their songs to the mix at a later date.
Each recording artist will select two finalists from the submissions they receive. Those finalists will appear in the series, and a winner will be selected to meet the recording artist and collaborate on a performance that will debut on YouTube. There will be one winner for each recording artist involved in the series. That means Backstreet Boys, Lovato and Derulo will each select a winner and then perform a duet with that musician.
More details about the competition, including rules for submitting videos, are available at TheBestCoverEver.com.
Best.Cover.Ever is being executive produced by Seacrest; Ludacris; Teri Kennedy for Ryan Seacrest Productions; and Rob Smith, Georgie Hurford-Jones and Marilyn Wilson for Endemol Shine.