Connect With Us

Add Hypebot To Circleson

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

• TUNE MTT RADIO
SEARCH
« we7 remembers war heroes with charity donation for each streaming of the tribute track | Main | Bottle Up & Go! »
Friday
Nov062009

The Difference Between You & an American Idol 

I speak to musicians everyday who desperatley want to become famous, sell millions of records and pack arenas. Once in awhile I have a chance to chat with entertainers who have been to the mountain top only to look down at how far they had to fall. The space in between is reserved for those who live a “normal” life, but I’ve always been curious to know what it feels like after the crowd has stopped cheering and the units stop selling. I got my wish at CMJ 2009.

One panel in particular called, “Idol Views From Two Music Nation Leaders: USA and Sweden”, shed light on the life of American Idol finalists and their decent from fame. I normally wouldn’t have attended such a popcorn event, but after a brief conversation with Season 2 sensation, Kimberley Locke, I couldn’t help but to follow her into the 9th floor board room where the panel was to take place. When I arrived, I was shocked to discover that the audience only slightly out numbered the panelists .The mood was akward at first, but the hour long discussion proved to be intimate and extremly valuable.

DSC02548
left to right: Locke, Bronson, DeGarmo & Lindstrom

Kimberly was joined by Season 3 finalist, Diana DeGarmo, whom I had only recognized by face, and the winner of the Swedish version Idol, Daniel Lindstrom. The moderator, American journalist, author and writer, Fred Bronson did an excellent job to uncover the joys and pains of these three musicians, and what implications their journey had on the aspiring artist in the room. Here are a few highlights from the discussion:

What was the experience like on American Idol?

Daniel Lindstrom: It was an eye opener. I had a picture of what (the music business) would be like. I thought it was all about the music, but it not. It’s all about the money.

Diana DeGarmo: It was like roller coaster ride without brakes.You learn that (American Idol) is a business before anything else.

Kimberley Locke: (Amercian Idol) was like “Entertainment Boot Camp 101”. You learn how to give an interview, give a sound byte, and how to deal with your fans. If you dont have a record deal once the show is over, you are on your own.

How is life after Idol?

Diana DeGarmo: I came out of the show signed to RCA. I released (Blue Sky) on Dec 7th of 2004. It wasnt a bad album, just not the right album. They tried to put me in a box with Avril Lavenge, but I wanted to make Country music.

Daniel Lindstrom: Two weeks after the show was over, my album was released [The record went gold]. I had no control of what was happening around me, so I stoped working with Sony/BMG after the 2nd album. I then released an indie record as my 3rd album and have more gigs now becuase I’ve learned how to have fun.

Kimberley Locke: American Idol had Right of Refusal, which means that after the show I had to wait 90 days for Sony/BMG to turn me down before I could sign with anyone else. I ended up signing with Curb Records. I dont know if it was the best decision, but no one else was bititing. The album was nothing like I wanted it to be, but I didnt care.

Ultimately the American Idols’ had seen a certain amount of financial, social or political success but that window of opportunity slammed shut as soon as the next season began. As an independent, you can take as much time as you want to create the type of music you love, define your own view of success and follow your own stop watch.

Kimberely told me outside of the conference room that she was auditioning for a role in Chicago on B’dway and recording an album with Randy Jackson. Trouble is she has no idea who her fans really are. She is so far removed from the direct fan relationship that is so important now, that the cost of producing and remarketing to her old American Idol fans will be astronomical. She is starting her project in the hole by a couple of million dollars.

Independents like Matthew Ebel who know exactly which of his fans buy, what, when and where are now at an advantage. His overhead is low and his fan base is growing. Who would you rather be?

Kevin English is a marketer and student of the arts, who blogs about the skills and strategies necessary to get the most of your musical career at http://eleetmusic.com or on Twitter @eleetmusic.

Reader Comments (10)

Thanks for the article Kevin. It points out the gap between what artists hope and what industry labels really want, which is another thing altogether. It's good though that these Idols managed to make a name for themselves even though it might not be as extravagant as they wished.

Cheers,
Endy

November 7 | Registered CommenterEndy Daniyanto

"i speak to musicians everyday who desperatley want to become famous, sell millions of records and pack arenas."

Surely said musicians would rather be on a par with, say, R.E.M. than anyone from American Idol, though? Admittedly their route was also a lottery, and not easy at first, but there seems to be an implicit false dichotomy here between getting signed to an evil, overbearing label and the DIY route.

November 8 | Unregistered CommenterBat'leth

"i speak to musicians everyday who desperatley want to become famous, sell millions of records and pack arenas."

Surely said musicians would rather be on a par with, say, R.E.M. than anyone from American Idol, though? Admittedly their route was also a lottery, and not easy at first, but there seems to be an implicit false dichotomy here between getting signed to an evil, overbearing label and the DIY route.

November 8 | Unregistered CommenterBat'leth

"The album was nothing like I wanted it to be, but I didnt care."

That's a very hilarious and eye-opening quote.

November 8 | Unregistered CommenterJustin Boland

@Bat'leth Thanks for reading.

"Surely said musicians would rather be on a par with, say, R.E.M. than anyone from American Idol, though?"

I guess that would depend on the musician. R.E.M. is as random a reference as say...Jennifer Hudson in this instance.

"...there seems to be an implicit false dichotomy here between getting signed to an evil, overbearing label and the DIY route."

There is a big difference between independents and major label artists. What I was implying however is that indie's are in better shape for future growth, given their low over head and potential for personal fan connection. Do you agree?

November 9 | Unregistered CommenterKevin English

Kevin,

This is such a good post that I would love to hear more about what was said by this panel.. Very interesting.

Thanks,

Bruce

November 9 | Registered CommenterBruce Warila

@Justin Crazy right? That's like saying the Algorhythms didn't care what, "Graph Paper" & "Audrey Hepburn" sounded like.

@Endy & Bruce Glad you both enjoyed the post. I'll elaborate shortly.

November 9 | Unregistered CommenterKevin English

Update posted.

November 11 | Unregistered CommenterKevin English

The real question you have to ask... would the Beatles... stones,, Simon and Garfunkel
the dead Elton john... you name your favs... make it through the brain dead judges?
you have to be kidding me... this show is another nail in the coffin to "kill music" as we knew it. This show has NOTHING to do with music and everything to do with Americas desire to be critical judgmental nose-pickers stop asking TV what music to listen to

April 14 | Unregistered CommenterBob

I think I would prefer to be very involved in the artistic development of my songs. The things they've said are a bit disturbing. It's been difficult learning to use social media and navigating the disjointed world of the music industry...but I think in the end you're a more informed musician and you can make better choices. I couldn't imagine spending millions to launch a song, even if I had it.

September 23 | Unregistered CommenterRhondasSongs

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>