Contract concerns, lack of financial return and biased judges are the three main focus points when I asked the question earlier this week: “Why do musicians hate X-Factor so much?”…
Being such a controversial topic, I couldn’t help but unpack this a little further and dive deep into the opinions of many artists around the world when it comes to TV Talent shows. But with such a varying opinion from so many, how can I form a single point? Time to pour a good ole’ cup of Titly innit?!…
I knew very well when I jumped in with this question, I was going to get one of three answers from the majority of comments on my question… ‘The contracts the show issues will destroy your music career’. ‘The shows execs choose the winners before the judging actually begins’, and… They are nothing but ‘glorified karaoke’ TV. I hit send on my question and within 90 seconds…. I got the trifecta. All three of the above were mentioned…
It seemed the idea of a TV Talent show was super unfavourable to a large number of artists connected to my bookface… I also knew at the time of forming this column, ‘I am going to enrage a number of people who hate (literally HATE) the idea of these shows and want to see them, and anyone involved burnt alive…’
OK, Storytime… I had little bit of experience with X-Factor… Back in 2011, I snuck out of my day job at an IT firm to swing down to the Entertainment Centre in Albury, with my guitar and sit amongst masses of local musicians and audition for a TV Talent show. I had just started performing songs at a local Open Mic night and was keen to get some feedback on my abilities AND maybe a bit of TV love…
Like hundreds of thousands of other Australian Artists, I had a bit of a dream to get on the show and hadn’t met many people locally in the music “scene”. So I never had the opportunity to taint the thought of being on one of these shows yet… I got through the first audition, was sent upstairs, had my head shot taken, and then in to meet the Executive Producers of the show. We spent roughly 30 minutes talking about the show, I performed a few songs to them and then was sent on my way with a letter congratulating me on getting through to the TV Auditions in Melbourne.
I then got sick and didn’t get to go to the next stage audition 🙁
For me, at that time, this was the biggest thing that had happened to me in music. I got to play to a platform that could have gone to national TV. I was told by a bunch of people I didn’t know, that I was good enough for TV (or was about to be one of the token “NO’s”) and the local paper took my photo and did a small write up! This was huge for me!
After this experience, plenty of doors opened up for me but looking back… It wasn’t because of the show… It was because I had confidence in my abilities, and I pushed myself to get better and better at what I do. I quit my job and focused on music from then on… Using the little X-Factor story, it opened up plenty of gig opportunities for me around the area and helped me get to the next step of my career… So all in all… A positive experience.. BUT, I never made it to a point where I had to sign my life away to anyone. This is what the majority of the complaints are all about.
“Top contestants are chosen before the show starts and it usually exploits the winners who know very little about signing contracts, or how to write their own music. It’s a sad affair for all but the judges who profit most”.
“No creative freedom, the Record company/Executives call the shots and music should never be a competition”.
“Because people like real genuine musicians. Unfortunately, when talent is cherry picked by a corporate franchise, it takes away a bit of the beauty. Its as bad as McDonald’s choosing what food is good” (sic.).
“Because it’s all about drama rather than talent”.
All of the above quotes are not uncommon opinions however, I am struggling to find anyone that can verify any of the above. I am friends with a number of TV show contestants who have carved careers out of their opportunities on TV, and all without taking the top spot. All of them have said it is certainly a challenging experience, however it is a positive one. Gaining much needed exposure to a massive audience you aren’t going to get in your local RSL or Pub… Not to mention, they are watching the show for your music, not to talk over the top of you.
Now think about it for a second… How many times have you played a show where the audience is there to sit with a group of mates and talk shit right through your show? Yes there is a select few that actually go for the music, but for the most part… Look at your audience next time you are under the two red lights… How many are engaged? These shows literally strip away the shit and put an engaged audience in front of your talent!!
There is a lot of claim of musicians taking the “easy road” to success, through means of shows like these Most commonly from people who have only seen limited success themselves. If you look deep into the contestants of shows like this, the dedicated artists are for the most part still out there slogging their craft, in some way building their own success with a little more experience under their belt. The weekend singers that wanted a crack at the big time are back at their day jobs bragging about the time they got to meet Kyle Sandilands and call him a dickhead (sorry Kyle, you aren’t a bad human imo).
Going by the responses… It honestly seems more like jealousy is a plaguing factor in the argument as to whether or not Talent Shows are a positive or negative influence on your career path.
So I asked earlier… “With such a varying opinion from so many, how can I form a single point?” Well… To put it simply… I can’t!
It’s ultimately up to you to do what is right for you… One person’s pleasure can be another persons pain… A positive experience for another is the fear of many… Do what makes your heart sing and you will find success within yourself. I mean, what have you actually got to lose?
Don’t let people who had a bad experience, or formed an opinion before trying something, change your mind on anything in the music industry. There is a lot of opinions on what is the right way to go to attain the pre-fabricated success path as portrayed in cinema, BUT there is much more you can be doing to make a living out of your talent…
Go out and explore all the possibilities and paths to YOUR successful career… Not someone elses!