Audible today announced that it would launch its first-ever singing competition series as an exclusive podcast featuring artists Sara Bareilles and Kelly Rowland as judges. “Breakthrough” will premiere on the Amazon-owned audio service on June 1.
On the podcast series, Bareilles and Rowland will mentor five artists over the course of nine episodes. The host of “Breakthrough” will be “Hamilton” star Daveed Diggs.
The undiscovered musicians will have to compete in a series of challenges, including covering well-known songs, experimenting with genres, writing original songs and more. Prizes include vocal coaching sessions, studio recording time and recording equipment. At the end of the competition, one artist will be crowned the winner.
“‘Breakthrough’ pushes the boundaries of audio even further and invites music lovers to participate in the first of its kind, audio-only singing competition,” said Zola Mashariki, head of Audible Studios, in a statement.
Because it’s audio-only format, both the listeners and the judges won’t know what the performers look like. Slightly similar to the hit competition series, “The Masked Singer,” concealing their identities will likely help Audible users better connect with the music. However, with "Breakthrough," Audible is giving up-and-coming artists the chance to, like the title says, potentially get their big break.
As of 2020, Audible’s paid membership plan, Audible Plus, had approximately 300 million monthly active users.
“I love that the creative team are on the same journey as our audience -- getting to know these artists without seeing them -- developing a sense of their artistry through only their music and storytelling,” Bareilles added. “These five incredible souls showed up to each challenge with courage and vulnerability that invited us all into a remarkably intimate space, and I learned so much from them. No matter where you are in your career, it is always inspiring to witness someone reach for the deepest parts of themselves and be willing to share that tender space.”
The singing competition series joins over 760,000 audio programs on Audible, including a slate of original content from its “Words + Music” series that features popular musicians like Mariah Carey, John Legend, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Sting, Alice Cooper and more.