The X Factor Phenomena
Over the years, the BBC, ITV and practically every other television company, radio station, talk show host and program controller have recognised that talent shows and reality shows attract viewers and make money. The public wants to see and hear something different, original, and unusual… the more outrageous, terrible or funny the performance, the better the ratings.
From early shows such as Opportunity Knocks and New Faces to more recent shows such as American Idol, The Voice, X Factor, Walk The Line and Britains Got Talent, TV Talent shows continue to attract all standards and styles of budding wannabes searching for the ever-elusive break into the music industry. But what can you expect, and are they any good for your career?
Pros of TV Talent Shows
Exposure on shows like American Idol and The X Factor can be invaluable for young artists and singers. By appearing on a TV show with worldwide exposure, you’ll have the opportunity to showcase your talent to a large audience and gain a wider fanbase, which can help you gain recognition and potentially jumpstart your career.
2. Recording Contracts
Whilst the winner of these talent shows are usually guaranteed a contract, many other contestants also sign recording, publishing or management contracts. Some artists who failed to win but still achieved huge success in the music industry include One Direction, Adam Lambert, Susan Boyle, Fifth Harmony and Jennifer Hudson.
The latest television talent show contestants like The Voice, Pop Idol, American Idol and X Factor received tons of free publicity from social media, blogs, newspapers, magazines and radio stations. Sadly this is a double-edged sword – negative and positive stories should be expected.
Prizes range from the opportunity to perform live on the show to recording and management contracts. Some competitions even offer cash prizes.
Appearing on a TV talent show can be a fantastic experience for young performers. You’ll have the opportunity to receive valuable feedback and coaching from industry professionals, which can help you improve and become a better performer. And hey, even if you don’t win, just being on the show can be a great learning experience and a chance to gain experience in the music industry.
6. Network and Make Friends
Auditions can be a great opportunity to make friends and network in the music industry. You’ll have the chance to connect with other like-minded folks with similar aspirations. By forming these connections, you can build a supportive network of friends and musicians who can help you navigate the music industry and achieve your goals.
You may also have valuable exposure to industry professionals, such as music executives and talent agents, potentially opening up new opportunities within the music industry.
Cons of TV Talent Shows
Television auditions are popular, and you can expect to wait several hours or even all day before getting through the doors, let alone being seen!
Contestants are usually screened by the show’s producer, a representative from the management company or other personnel. They may not even be called back for an audition with the celebrity judges (who you may not see at all until the night of the show).
The advent of ‘Reality TV’ means that the contestant must be prepared to be filmed during the whole process. Being filmed can be a unique and exciting experience, but it can also be challenging and require a lot of energy and focus. One of the key challenges of being filmed is the need to be constantly aware of the camera and to act naturally, even when being filmed. This can be difficult, as it can be hard to shake the feeling of being watched and judged.
Be prepared for criticism! Celebrity judges like New Faces’ Tony Hatch, Pop Idol’s Simon Cowell and Pete Waterman held no punches when it came to their opinion of the artist’s performance.
Feedback can range from constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement to more blunt and critical comments about a contestant’s performance. They may also offer more general comments about a contestant’s performance, such as whether they were engaging or entertaining.
Contestants must sign a contract with the show, which may tie them into a label or management company that has little or no interest in promoting them and may include terms which are detrimental to the performer, i.e., minimum royalties, low or non-existent performance fees and deductions from earnings even when no longer with the company.
What to Expect When Auditioning for a TV Talent Show
Each program audition varies depending on the show’s requirements and programming schedule. Auditions are often held in a small room where you may be required to sing one song only – without accompaniment in front of one or more people. You may be interviewed and filmed separately and required to complete a contract providing permission for any clips to be used without payment or re-use royalties. You also agree not to discuss any aspect of the program without permission if your audition is successful.
Once you’re in the doors, the program staff are usually friendly and helpful. Unless stated in the application form, refreshments and overnight accommodation are only provided to successful finalists. Those participants selected to appear on the show are treated pretty well, and extras can range from transportation to the show, refreshments on the night or overnight accommodation to a complete package of specialised training and full accommodation for the length of the program (or until you’re voted out!)
Winners may expect to win the advertised prize, however, these may not be as great as they seem! An offer of a recording contract does not indicate that the label or management company will pay for or promote you as an artist. Any advance is just that … an advance against future earnings. These funds may have to pay for studio and recording time, training or equipment and may be claimed back by the company if the artist fails to generate enough sales to cover the advance.
Save yourself a lot of stress by entering for the experience – it’s pointless assuming that you’ll get through, even if you have got a great voice. Of course, you should do your best and aim to win, but no one can anticipate what the programmers, judges or viewing public want – if that isn’t you – be philosophical about it – after all, it’s only a competition – there will probably be another show in yet another format next year!
Should I Go On a TV Talent Show?
Television can be a great medium for singers and entertainers, however, with the exception of specifically designed amateur shows or appearances, they should be avoided by beginners to the biz and the faint-hearted! The competition is TOUGH, criticism BLUNT and as with any audition process or talent show – there are no guarantees that you will get through to the next round.
Be prepared! Make no mistake that it’s very rare for the finalists and eventual winners to be complete amateurs. Most finalists have had some training or experience performing in front of a live audience (not just their friends and family!). In some cases, the contestant has spent a lot of money and years training with professional teachers or has a family connection to the music business! The best advantage you can have at a talent show or competition is to be well-rehearsed and confident that you can do your best on the day.
Although the majority of contestants fade swiftly back into obscurity, a small percentage have been successful, like Beyoncé, Britney Spears, ShowWaddyWaddy, Girls Aloud, Little Mix, One Direction and Leona Lewis, some of whom had been doing the club, cabaret or talent show circuit for a while before appearing on a TV Talent Show. If you’re a talented unsigned artist who is thick-skinned, knows the score and are prepared to give it your best shot, then this is a good opportunity to be seen and discovered.
How To Find TV Talent Shows?
Most UK television companies broadcast details of forthcoming shows and competitions between programs or during commercial breaks. You can also find advertisements at their official websites or audition websites like The Stage.
Top Tips for Auditioning on Talent Shows
Be Prepared!! Use your best songs and ensure you’re well-rehearsed before the audition date. Turn up early, drink plenty of water during the day and warm up your voice before you audition.
Be careful to read contracts and agreements closely before signing. Successful applicants may be required to commit themselves to the management or recording company running the show for a minimum period, including the length of the show. You will not be able to accept any offers or sign to another label/manager until released from this contract.
If you get through the auditions, find out the broadcast date of the show on which you are to appear. Take out an advert in ‘The Stage’ or other music paper and inform A&R professionals, Managers or Agents before your appearance date. This will help to maximise your booking potential and ensure that the people you are trying to attract can view the program if they wish.
The nation’s sweetheart, Cheryl has achieved unrivalled success with Girls Aloud, as a solo artist, a judge on the X Factor, a fashion icon and as the face of L’Oreal. However, the path to fame is rarely easy and for Cheryl it has been a colourful journey.
‘I still can’t get my head around being on the UK’s biggest talent search, singing in front of millions of people every week – let alone winning it. This is the story of how my dream became reality.
Little Mix are the UK’s most successful girl band. They first found fame – and each other – on The X Factor in 2011. Five years later they have gone from strength to strength, achieving huge global success. With three platinum-selling albums in the UK and over 14 million record sales worldwide, the band are both adored by their fans and critically acclaimed for their brilliant music.
Sarah Harding is best known as the wild member of Girls Aloud, whose reputation for partying, drinking and dating made her a tabloid favourite. But where does the celebrity Sarah Harding end and the real Sarah begin?
Related Articles and Sites
Official site for the American Pop Idol Television Talent Show.
Eurovision Song Contest
European Television Talent Show was first staged in Switzerland in 1956. 40+ years on, and it’s still going strong, with songwriters, singers and bands competing. The annual competition commands an audience of 120m people worldwide.
X Factor Contract Misleads Contestants
A leaked legal document shows that the victor may only receive £1 million after at least four albums. Instead, they will get an advance of £150,000 to pay their expenses for their first LP, reports The Mirror.
X Factor Is Cheap Exploitation
Performers’ union Equity has called on producers of The X Factor and other reality talent shows to pay contestants who appear in the latter stages of the programmes.