Congratulations Leon! A long and fruitful career awaits you in the marvellous (and in no way exploitative) music industry. You’re dreams have come true; movie premiers await you, gorgeous girl after gorgeous girl are lining up to sleep with you and then tell the News of the World about their lucky night, the Christmas number 1 spot is practically yours already and your ‘million pound’ recording contract is waiting for you in Simon Cowell’s theatre of dreams.One thing though, you remember that contract you signed before you even did your first audition? When you were stood outside in the pouring rain with the other 10,000 fruitloops? When you sang 2 lines to that work experience kid who decides whether you’re either A) Actually alright at singing and might progress or B) A borderline lunatic who therefore is suitable enough to be ridiculed in front of an audience of 8 million people? Well that contract means you’re going to make no money! Marvellous thing eh?That’s right, unless you actually are successful (which can happen, and we’ll come onto that in a bit) then you’ll simply be on a wage of a few hundred quid a week until your contract is done. Granted, everything else will be paid for you; your travel, your lush new flat, your wardrobe, you expenses etc but are free Martini’s going to pay your pension? Methinksnot.
But then again, is lovely Leon in it for the money? Or for the fame? Because he’s clearly not in it for the music is he? If you were going to enter a competition ‘for the music’ then why enter one where you can’t perform your own material and if you do win, can’t write your own material?
Why are people so obsessed with fame? Surely it’s a nightmare? No privacy, people judging every single thing that you do, tabloids outright lying about the shenanigans that you get up to. Fame and its nosopoetic ways can ruin everyone and anyone in its path. If you’re going to strive for anything then please let it be to be respected, not to be famous.
A good example of this (in my opinion) is the difference between Shayne Ward and Leona Lewis. I have no time for Shayne Ward; he’s never released a single that I like, I’ve never seen a performance from him that has impressed me and he has no unique selling point whatsoever.
Leona Lewis on the other hand has a stunning voice, a brilliant single in ‘Bleeding Love’ and she genuinely stands apart from the current pop crowd.
Shayne’s Wards sales are impressive; coming up to 2 million overall and he has an arena tour booked for next year (which if doubt he’ll sell out personally due to the longevity of his fans who’ll now be replacing his posters with Leon’s posters as we speak), but I reckon he’s reached his zenith, his climax, his peak. It’s all downhill from here Shayne.
Whereas with Leona, Mr Cowell has realised he’s got an amazing talent on his hands and rather than rushing out a shitty covers album he’s invested time and money into getting her ready with the top producers and songwriters on board. She could be round for a very long time because…
Simon Cowel l is an entrepreneurial genius (with an inexplicably large thanks to Simon Fuller). Fuller originally realised the medium of TV was nowhere near being exploited to its full potential when he guided S Club 7 to superfame so then went on to create Pop Idol making Cowell one of the judges. Simon Cowell then cleverly realised the public knew his face and not Fullers so decided to make a ‘different’ version of Pop Idol; X Factor. He’s now stupidly rich and stupidly powerful within the entertainment industry (although not as stupidly rich and stupidly powerful as Fuller it should be mentioned) and therefore Leona can be safe in the knowledge that if he doesn’t make her successful, probably no one will be able to (apart from Fuller maybe).
So the burning question is are TV shows like this killing the music industry?
I personally wouldn’t use the word ‘killing’ but I’d be chuffed to see the back of them with my argument being that if they didn’t exist, the 1.2 million people who bought Shayne Ward’s debut single could have gone and bought a song by an artist who makes their own music and who has worked hard for their art.
Are musical competitions respected on any level what so ever? The BBC tried to do ‘Pop Idol With Talent’ when they did Fame Academy by filling up the house with people who could actually play instruments and wrote their own material but then ruined the point of it completely by making the contestants sing covers on the live shows (which were probably rigged with hindsight). The result? David Snedden (who?) and Alex Parks (who? Although I did like the single ‘What It Takes’).
Currently on Channel 4 we have ‘Mobile Act Unsigned’ which includes Sentric’s very own ‘Envy and Other Sins’ (top band – check them out, and hell, why not vote for them too?). I personally don’t know what the contract that they’ve signed is like (and what the contract will be like if they win) but I’ve watched a couple of episodes and it seems Channel 4, Orange and Sony Ericsson have pulled off a decent show in which the bands involved haven’t lost any of their credibility by appearing on it. Its hard to judge the success of it right now though until one of the artists have won and we see how it helps/hinders their career…
On a true unsigned level ‘Battle of the Bands’ contests are ones that I as a manager recommend my artists to stay away from unless the prize is rather nifty as they can be seen as quite tiresome and truly great unsigned/independent artists shouldn’t really need them to get noticed. They’re worth exploiting if the benefits are worth being reaped, if not then avoid them like the plague…
The Daily Mail’s awful review of the Led Zeppelin reunion gig. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fact that the journalist didn’t like the gig, that’s fair enough, but the way he wrote about it was simply dire.
Free Track from Envy and Other Sins: ‘Step Across’