Students compete for the chance to record single

USC students will soon have a chance to compete in College Star, a collegiate singing competition modeled after American Idol. While the show was initially available to UC Berkeley students exclusively, Brent Freed, a junior at UC Berkeley and the producer of College Star, is bringing the show to the USC campus this March.

“The model works so well in Berkeley — we have hundreds of people that would audition,” Freed said. “After a couple years, I realized — this could work at so many other schools. Having had a lot of family members who went to USC, and as a big fan of USC myself, I said to myself, ‘Why don’t I give it a shot at USC?’”

The competition begins with an online audition, which is currently open, and will close on Feb. 21. Students who wish to compete in the future rounds of the show should upload online audition videos through the College Star Channel of, an online platform promoting music. Original compositions, covers, and any genre — rap, country or pop — is welcome.

The show has also partnered with 1500 or Nothin’, a musical ensemble composed of producers and songwriters, some of whom have been nominated for Grammy Awards, which will evaluate all the contestants throughout the show. The company has previously produced for Bruno Mars, Snoop Dogg, Adele and Beyoncé, as well as Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy-winning album, To Pimp a Butterfly.

The top 24 contestants from the online audition will be invited to the Boot Camp weekend, held at USC on March 5-6, where they will be offered training sessions with record producers. The 12 best contestants will be given a chance to perform at the live show at the Belasco Theater on March 24.

“At the live show, the audience gets to vote through a texting service,” Freed said. “The judges will also vote. The two votes will be calculated, and the winner will be immediately determined at the live show.”

The winner of the show will get a chance to produce a single with the producers. Grant Genske, a previous winner of the show and a graduate of UC Berkeley, released an EP three months ago.

“The producers are only providing the platform to meet with songwriters, producers, managers and help people get opportunities to work with people who have a lot of experience with the music industry,” Freed said. “The winner of the show becomes a campus icon. Grant lives in San Francisco, but he has been offered opportunities in Los Angeles, and will be move to L.A. soon to pursue his music career.”

Any USC student is eligible. According to Freed, winners of the show have included everyone from engineers to political science majors.

“What we are creating is an opportunity for students to showcase their talent,” Freed said. “We do not feel like every single student that goes to college is a musician or majoring in pop music. Whether you are an a capella singer or pop music singer, an engineer or a math major, this competition is very diverse. It is open to anybody who sings.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the winners of the competition will have the opportunity to produce an album. It is a single. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.