Tuesday, May 19, 2009

- American Idol: A cautionary tale on how to enjoy it for what it is

The good news is that, living in Turkey as I do, I am not subjected to ‘Britain’s got Talent’ or whatever it’s called. 'American Idol' I have witnessed, however. No doubt one of the most popular TV shows of recent years, drawing millions of viewers every week, it is, according to four music business experts, doing damage to aspiring musicians and warping opinions of how the music industry in actual fact works. Let this be a cautionary tale to all seeking to get into this profession.

‘(American Idol) may be fun to watch, but it's the last place I'd recommend anyone go to learn how to succeed with a music career.’

Bob Baker, author of ‘Guerrilla Music Marketing’

Bob Baker suggests the show has created widespread misconceptions about what it takes to be successful as a music artist in the contemporary world and has documented five falsehoods perpetuated by American Idol.

If you want to experience the best of American Idol, throw an American Idol Party in your own home.

Falsehood 1 - Industry talent scouts enthusiastically look for singers and musicians to develop

Times have changed… Record companies do employ A&R people whose job it is to sign and nurture new artists, but the truth is major labels are consolidating more and more, cutting staff and they no longer have the time or money to develop new acts. Instead, especially now they don't have John Peel doing the hard work for them, they want artists who are already developing themselves, attracting fans and selling CDs on their own. In the music trade, like any other business, a record company's investment and risk on a newly signed act can mean the end of several careers, not only the artist's, if it doesn't work. Consequently, any label is much more likely to invest in someone who has a proven track record.

Falsehood 2 - Most would-be musicians are deficient in talent and are delusional

The American Idol auditions, especially, spawn this fantasy. Many amazing musicians have decided they're happier selling 10,000 CDs on their own and making a hundred thousand dollars, than selling a million CDs and being broke on a major label. That's the reality of today's music business.

Falsehood 3 - You require the endorsement of industry insiders to make it in the music biz

Another misguided notion is that getting an industry big shot's approval will make or break your career. Sorry, you don't need Simon's or anyone else's permission to be worthy of a career in music. Remember, every major label in the U.K. passed on both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in their day.

Falsehood 4 - Getting a major recording contract is the definitive sign of achievement

There are innumerable stories of bands that get signed and never go anywhere, or bands that have record deals and end up falling far short of their expectations. Think of all those great Peel session artists who signed a deal and then disappeared into obscurity. Only about one in 30 signed acts reach significant enough sales levels to justify the record label offering a second CD release, which means practically 97% of artists with recording contracts do not make the grade. Scared yet?

Falsehood 5 - Without extensive on exposure a national scale, you're doomed to crash

Most musicians would love to get the high-impact TV exposure that American Idol finalists receive, but nationwide media coverage is not a requirement for ultimate success in music. There are thousands of lesser-known artists who enthusiastically write, record and perform great music under the radar, converse to popular credence, many of them make decent money, have large armies of devoted fans and are quietly, but steadily, building careers. The musicians with the best odds of success are those who follow the Peel mentality and take their careers into their own hands, promote themselves relentlessly and create their own lucky breaks.


Basically, enjoy American Idol and programs like this for what they are but forget about them being realistic models of how the music industry operates. In fact, if you’re thinking of taking part in something like this, just throw a party for your friends as you’ll likely have more fun than you ever could participating in the real thing. Birthdayexpress.com is an online shop and complete source for birthday party supplies for themes such as American Idol. From television shows to movies, they boast a huge range of diverse themed party gear.  Birthday Express currently offers more than 150 children's party themes. Each theme includes the products and information necessary to help parents create a memorable birthday party. Forget going on American Idol and have fun at home.

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