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Online 'Idol' Adds More Voting, Prizes, Publicity

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Could your vocal stylings blow away Taylor Hicks or Katharine McPhee? Fluid Audio Networks, which owns and operates American Idol Underground, signed an agreement with Fox Interactive Media that adds another democratic element to competitive performing.

Fluid Audio is creating a microsite within FIM's AmericanIdol.com that incorporates the most popular features of its main IdolUnderground.com site. These features include voting on Underground competitors, leaderboards, American Idol Underground's online branded music player and the chance for performers to win prizes.

The FIM agreement, which is expected to be formally announced today, joins the deal Fluid Audio already had with FremantleMedia Licensing Worldwide and will be promoted during "American Idol" broadcasts.

American Idol Underground competitors pay a $25 entry fee in order to compete in 13 different musical genres, with winners selected by user votes along with input from such celebrities as country star Collin Raye, soul legend Isaac Hayes, Earth, Wind & Fire's Verdine White, Arrested Development's Speech and contemporary jazz pianist David Benoit.

"The television show has celebrities judging, but ours just offer a professional review," Fluid Audio CEO Justin Beckett said. "The process is entirely democratic. You can e-mail the artist directly, you can forward the song that you like to your friends, you can interact with a community."

In addition to cash prizes totaling more than $200,000, winners receive online exposure through spins and banner impressions and prizes from American Idol Underground partners including Audix, Musician's Atlas and Discmakers.

Beckett said the FIM agreement "is a great opportunity for American Idol Underground bands and solo acts to get in front of the nearly 10 million people who visit AmericanIdol.com each month," while exposing fans of the TV program to a wealth of undiscovered talent.

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Chris Marlowe writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

For more news from The Hollywood Reporter, click here.

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