Have an enquiry?
Send us your enquiry

By Rhys Lett

The Reality of Television Music Competitions

Who won the Voice last year? Who won the year before? Any Australia’s got Talent runners up you can name? Its the game of reality music television. A conveyor belt of very talented musicians. These musicians absolute deserve the exposure the shows afford them. The main problem that comes from reality music television is what comes next? It is in these contests where the loser is actually the winner.

Benefit of Music Reality Shows

Lets start of a positive note. These shows are great for getting people excited about music. They are almost the only place you now see a live music performance on Australian television. they have the ability to create stunning music experiences. The Anthony Callea performance of “The Prayer” on season two of Australian Idol is one of the greatest live musical performances in the history of television in this country. Not my kind of music but I remember the performance. It was an undeniable moment. Everyone was talking about it the next day (pre social media era).

What I hope these shows achieve is getting people of the couch and igniting a passion for music. I hope it inspires the audience to get out and see more live music of all styles. I hope it inspires kids to want to take up singing or guitar. I hope it makes someone want to take a chance and act on the excitement music gives them.

These shows also employ a good number of musicians as live band members or studio musicians to create tracks to back performers. Our music industry is very small. The ability to make a living from your craft can be difficult. Shows like these provide employment opportunities.

Legitimacy of Reality

It must be remembered that first and foremost these are television shows.  Edits will be made to present characters in certain ways. Do you believe that the judges on The Voice independently make decisions to turn the chair?

Something like the Anthony Callea performance is a diamond in the rough.  Without fault you will only see performances like this within the first two seasons of a show in this style. While the essence of the show is still relatively pure before the business heads have created the analytics to manufacture these kind of performances. The advertising for the show will let you know about them.

Even before the final 48 are selected for The Voice teams you can calculate the cast make up. You will have a majority of performers aged 16-21. They are industry green, willing and ready to exploit. One of them will be our winner. There will be a few token “oldies”.  The latest cast member of these shows is the “returning performer”. A performer we sent away. Now look what “our” rejection has made them become. The whole “we were right” moment. Understand it is a television plot line.

Reality Profit

These shows are run like any television show. Essentially for profit. This is not to say that is a bad thing.  Television is a business. If the show is not making advertising dollars it goes away. The marketing of these shows is excellent, extensive and expensive. It is in the interests of the company then to produce the most profitable end game. Are the competition winners planned? Or is the show presented and edited in a way to favour certain contestants. This is something to consider as a viewer.

And the Reality Winner is…

The companies behind the show which are a production company, a record label and a television network. The judges of the shows. They have valuable exposure to further their own careers. The Madden Brothers couldn’t sell a single in their home country. Yet in Australia “We Are Done” was a huge number 1. The last two winners of The Voice have had great difficulty in gaining sales even immediately following the show finale. Even after these shows act as a three month advertising campaign for the contestants music ability. The winner contracts bury their future. The winner is obligated to sign complete control to the production company behind the show.

How to Beat the System

Do not win. You do not want to win a reality show. The contract you are now tied to is a career life sentence. Deals the winner and some fellow contestants automatically have to sign are known as 360 deals. The artist has their performance, recording and most importantly music publishing signed away. Your shelf life is less than 12 months as a winner. There will be a new season. You will be replaced. Album number 2 will disappear. The stigma of being a reality show winner will not.

Have your corporate entertainment marketing package set and ready to go. The corporate entertainment scene is a performing at private events staged by companies or individuals. It is a very lucrative scene. All entertainers worldwide perform on this gig circuit. Some of Australia’s best known musical acts perform many gigs on this circuit every year. Spend the time to invest on you website, finding an agent and researching market price. This is how you can turn involvement on a music television reality show into a long lasting a lucrative music performance career. It is the hidden jewel of the Australian Music industry that is ready made market for those obtaining fleeting fame through these shows. You will have a name for a larger period of time in the private market than the general public. Make use of this to maximise the career opportunities public exposure on a music reality show creates.

If you do want to win, set yourself up as a media personality. An all rounder. This is your best chance of “making it” rather than purely creating a music career. Make yourself employable across many platforms such as show host, actor, media commentator or panelist. Create some controversy and give opinions to anyone that will listen. Shake the tree.

For those wanting that music career consider this. Go into the show aiming for exposure. You want to bomb out before the top 5 to limit your chance of being tied to the ruling company. There will be a smaller amount of time you will be under option to be signed by the controlling interests of the show.