The pioneering music network announced the contest ahead of Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards in New York and geared the initiative toward viewers in the network’s more than 120 markets outside the United States.
The network will announce a song each month. To enter the competition, international viewers will need to upload cover versions on YouTube and submit them online to be the “MTV Cover of the Month.”
MTV International will recognize each month’s winner through a recurring spot on television as well as a trophy.
The network will also pick a winner of the year, who will star in an original music video to be produced and promoted by MTV.
The first song in the contest, which will open after Sunday’s awards gala, is Mike Posner’s global hit “I Took a Pill in Ibiza.”
The track has already gone through a musical transformation. Posner wrote it as a pop song with light guitar but — true to the sound of the Spanish resort of Ibiza — it climbed the charts as an electronic dance track mixed by Norwegian duo Seeb.
“I’m all about anything that supports creativity and self-expression,” Posner, who will personally select the winner, said in a statement.
MTV International senior vice president Kerry Taylor said that the contest was part of the network’s approach of preserving its well-known global brand identity while encouraging a local flavor.
“Our focus is very much about being a global brand with local resonance,” Taylor told AFP.
Taylor said that MTV was open to covers from all around the world including with strong regional adaptations.
“When you look at the kind of success of people doing covers on YouTube and just knowing how much our audiences universally love music, this felt like a contest that would work as well in Asia as it would in the Americas,” she said.
MTV revolutionized the music industry from its launch in 1981 by intertwining a visual component with pop songs but the network has come to focus more broadly on youth culture.
MTV International rebranded itself last year in part due to youth culture’s rapid embrace of social media and the growing world of YouTube sensations.
As part of the change, MTV International airs user-generated content — labeled with the hashtag #mtvbump — thousands of times per week.
MTV has also produced international spinoffs of its popular series “Jersey Shore” and “Ridiculousness.”