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LONDON (Reuters) - Universal Music Group has signed a recording and services deal with the producers of a new television singing competition "The Voice Of ...," which launches in the United States this spring to rival the popular "American Idol" series.
The label called "The Voice Of ..." format the "the world's hottest new TV music property," which could bolster the number one record company's position in the lucrative television talent market led by shows such as Idol and, in Britain "The X Factor."
The deal is between Universal and Talpa Media Group, headed by Dutch tycoon John de Mol who created the groundbreaking "Big Brother" reality TV series.
The Dutch version of the new format, "The Voice of Holland," has become the country's most successful new TV talent contest, according to Universal, a unit of French group Vivendi.
Universal said it would record and promote new stars emerging from "The Voice Of ..." series around the world, with the exception of Holland and Belgium.
"I am convinced that the U.S. version of this format, 'The Voice', will be a great instrument in discovering genuine ... new singing talent in the biggest entertainment market in the world," said de Mol.
"It's fantastic to have broadcaster NBC ... on our side in the U.S., but Universal Music makes the picture complete."
"The Voice Of ..." shows will be divided into three stages, starting with a "blind" audition where a panel of coaches pick singers based on their vocal skills only.
The following round features contestants in one-on-one battles within the coaches' teams, and finally artists perform live on stage in pursuit of the title. The winner is decided jointly by the public and coaches.
The winner is awarded a recording contract with Universal Music, similar to the arrangement in shows such as "The X Factor."
Last year it was announced that Universal had taken over from rival label Sony Music in partnering the "American Idol" series owned by Simon Fuller and his 19 Management group.
Both "The Voice" and "American Idol" will be up against "The X Factor" in the key U.S. market in 2011, with record producer and television personality Simon Cowell bringing his show to the world's biggest music market following its success in Britain.
Cowell is in business with Sony Music Entertainment.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato