Mix the hitmaking taste of a successful music producer with a slew of youthful, aspiring performers. Stew the latter in cross-continental competition and melodrama. Skim album and concert revenue off the top of successful reality TV ratings.
In 2002, Simon Cowell wasn’t the only music mogul tapping into this winning formula. Sean Combs was just getting into it too with “Making the Band,” a reality skein launched three years earlier by Backstreet Boys mastermind Lou Perlman on ABC that led to the creation of the double-platinum-selling boy band O-Town.
With the three-season O-Town iteration completed, and the series having migrated to cabler MTV, the focus turned to rap and hip-hop, and Combs was put in charge as exec producer.
Combs’ quest to blow up hardcore rappers Da Band in “Making the Band 2” didn’t yield the desired megaselling outcome, with the mogul choosing not to re-sign the volatile talent mixture at the end of the three-season arc.
Combs was more successful in 2004 in his attempt to form the female supergroup Danity Kane in “Making the Band 3,” with sales of both the band’s self-titled debut and sophomore effort “Welcome to the Doll House” both launching at No. 1 on Billboard.
Last year, in its fourth iteration, skein was able to produce a successful follow-up with the R&B-inspired boy band Day26, which in March saw its debut album, “Got Me Going,” premiere at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 the week after Danity Kane’s “Dollhouse” made the grade.
A tour featuring Danity Kane and Day26 — as well as another “Making the Band 4” project, singer Donnie Klang — will kick off May 24 in Orlando, Fla.
Besides boosting his label, Combs’ participation has worked out well for MTV, too, with the skein ranking No. 1 in its time period among females ages 12-34 in recent seasons, according to the cabler.
Tony DiSanto, exec VP of series development and animation at MTV, says, “When (Combs) comes in with an idea, I listen because I know the stuff he gets passionate about is going to be a commercial breakthrough or at the very least a creative breakthrough.”