Posts Tagged ‘buzz’

What’s wrong with American idol?

September 21, 2008

Bleary eyed and fuzzy headed, I just got back from Sound Connections NT Music Conference in Kansas City. My head is full of songwriting, performing and marketing tips, names, faces, new songs, song ideas, recommended artists, books, recording gear, etc. Once I get some sleep, I will sort it all out for future posts.

Meanwhile, I want to mention one resource that will be instrumental to your marketing efforts – Bob Baker’s The Buzz Factor. I’ve been following Bob for years. His books and articles, his web site, ezine, podcast and blog all focus on innovative, up to the minute information for the self-marketing indie musician, often based on the experiences of real indie bands and singer/songwriters.

Here’s an article he wrote.

What’s Wrong with American Idol?

Bob Baker’s updated manifesto on how the popular show is creating widespread misconceptions about what it takes to succeed as a musical artist today.

It’s one of the most popular TV shows of recent years, drawing tens of millions of viewers every week. Even I admit, American Idol is fun to watch. The show provides all the elements of good pop culture entertainment: passion, emotion, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, dreams attained and lost …

So, what’s wrong with American Idol?

Considering it’s lumped into the “reality” TV category, the show is doing a great disservice to aspiring musicians (and the public at large) by distorting perceptions of how the music business really works. It sends an outdated message of “dependence” on the industry vs. the more realistic “independence” that artists have today to control their own careers.

The Talent Discovery Myth

For instance, the program leads you to believe that there are hundreds of people like Simon, Paula and Randy out there searching for raw talent they can mold into the next big pop star. Not true. Sure, record companies employ A&R people whose job it is to sign and nurture new artists — but as major labels consolidate, cut staffs, and get nervous about the bottom line, they no longer have the time or money to develop new acts.

Instead, labels look for artists who are already developing themselves, attracting fans, and selling CDs on their own. There’s less risk with an act that has a track record.

Also, the American Idol auditions, in particular, create the illusion that most aspiring musicians lack talent and are delusional, struggling and starving. In reality, there are thousands of talented performers across the country who make good money, have hundreds of devoted fans, and are steadily building careers.

Here’s just one example of this modern reality: Over the past seven years, the web site CD Baby has sold more than $12 million worth of CDs (1.3 million units) by independent, unsigned acts. A tremendous amount of quality music is being produced and sold outside the mainstream.

The Danger of Waiting for Your ‘Big Break’

One of the biggest myths American Idol propels is that you need the approval of industry gatekeepers to “make it” in music. Sorry, you don’t need Simon’s or anyone else’s permission to be worthy of a career in music. If you wait for someone to give you the green light to create and perform music, you’ll be waiting a long time.

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