Why is the Audition Process for ‘American Idol’ So Confusing This Year?

Corey Cesare
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Hunter MettsABC/Eric McCandless

American Idol auditions begin on August 6, and if you’ve tried signing up you probably noticed it’s a confusing process this year. Auditions for the show will run from August to September with state-dependent dates. There will be both virtual zoom auditions and video submissions for this upcoming season.


Which Zoom Audition Do I Sign Up For?

When you click on to the landing page you’ll see all of the audition dates spread out on the screen. Once you click your state you can make an account and sign up for a timeslot. Once you’ve successfully signed up you will receive an email with a Zoom link.

According to the Virtual Audition FAQs, you may not sign up for more than one audition per set of states. For example, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina have auditions on August 6. You are not able to sign up to audition for both North and South Carolina.

But you are able to register for more than one audition date. This means, if you wanted to you could audition with both South Carolina, and New York. If you choose to do this you will receive a separate Zoom link for the other audition.


You are able to do this because the document states that “You do not need to be a resident of or physically present in the location for which you choose to register.”

Basically, you don’t have to audition “in” the state you currently reside in.

Register for Idol Across America

Anyone interested in joining the upcoming season of American Idol is able to register for an audition the day of. This could be a good route for some last minute contestants, but you will have less of an opportunity if you sign up later in the day. American Idol also makes sure to include that registration does not guarantee that you will actually get an audition.


“Although we would love to audition everyone who registers, it may be impossible given time constraints built into our schedule. There is no guarantee that everyone who registers and signs into a Virtual Audition waiting room will be given the opportunity to audition. If time is running short, Producer may select people to audition (regardless of their scheduled audition window) based on performing ability, style, personality and other factors, at Producer’s sole discretion.”

These auditions will be with producers and will be recorded. After your audition you’ll get feedback from the producers about your singing. You will know at a later date if you were picked to continue on.

You can also choose to submit a video audition instead of performing over Zoom. On the landing page of the video submissions you need to input your name and who you’re registering for. Then, you just have to verify if you were born between June 2, 1992 and September 15, 2006.

Is There Another Way To Audition?

You then must answer a series of questions (video and text) and then record your singing performance according to the Video Submission FAQs. Don’t worry if you get shy in front of the camera, you are able to submit pre existing videos that are on YouTube as long as they answer their questions.

Online video submissions are going on right now, they began on May 16 and will conclude on October 15. The document emphasizes that video submission participants should expect to hear from producers via phone or email at any time until November 1 if they’re moving on.

If you are selected for a callback you will then have to do a virtual Zoom interview, “or an in-person audition, if in-person auditions are held.”

Side note: they also specify that when in-person auditions resume, you will be responsible for your own travel and accommodations for your callback. You can submit only one video audition, but you may also sign up for a Zoom audition. But, if you get a callback from your Zoom audition you will not be receiving a separate callback from your video submission.

In your video submission you can sing whatever song your heart desires (including originals) for however long you’d like. The Video Submission FAQs does say there is a time limit on your video length but does not specify it. There are only a few catches to the video submission feature.

The document states: “Your performance must be a cappella or with your own musical accompaniment (e.g., you playing a guitar, piano, etc.)”

You cannot audition with friends or a band and you cannot enhance your voice at all with video editing.

Things That Might Confuse You in The FAQs Documents

When you click on the Virtual Audition FAQs link it brings you to a PDF labelled 7-29-03. This is super confusing since its 2021 and not 2003. Another confusing part of the document is that it says American Idol season five at the top. No, the document isn’t that outdated, the number of the season is reflective of its time on ABC. The show was originally broadcasted on FOX, so this is American Idol‘s fifth season, on ABC.

There was only one point of confusion for me in the Video Submission FAQs document. There is a question about a possible backtrack during your audition. The answer is yes, but gets a bit confusing.

“You may perform with a backing track. However, Audition Videos must not contain any post-production voice enhancements or be digitally enhanced or distorted.”

The next question asks if the contestant can use an instrument. The answer to this this question is also yes but clarifies that all auditions must be a cappella or with your own musical instrument. What happened their agreement to a backtrack?

On the Virtual Audition FAQs under what should I sing it says: “Be prepared to sing a song of your choice either a cappella (without music) or with your own instrumental accompaniment (e.g., a guitar). You should be prepared to sing at least two or possibly three songs.”

It seems safer to prepare an a capella audition in this instance. The document clarifies that if you audition with a guitar, you might not be able to use it later in the process.

But don’t worry: “You may, of course, use it privately during your free time.”

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