Rant: The state of industry - April 9, 2009

I don't know why it took me so long to write this but I am it now so that's a step forward..

In December of 2007 I was assured that Leon Jackson would take his place beside all the other X Factor winners and become a multi-platinum artist because he won the whole series. During Christmas week that same year I was assured that his winner's single would go to number one and it did.

Months later we first heard Don't Call This Love and I don't know where I first wrote it but I said I loved it and it was brilliant stuff. I was assured that Simon Cowell would have the decency to try and make him as big as Leona was because believe it or not - the world does not revolve around miss 'I'm as good a Whitney and Mariah put together', there are people with more talent, potential and individuality than her.

In late October we were offered a gorgeous album filled with beautifully-sung songs and assured that he would be big just because. The album peaked at 4 in the UK - apparently that wasn't very good.

If you look at it this way, Girls Aloud were also formed on a reality show in 2002 and the first time an album of theirs ever hit number one was in 2006 - FOUR YEARS AFTER THEIR DEBUT. They had number two, six, ELEVEN, and four-charting albums in order but did Polydor drop them? NO!

My point is that Sony BMG should give this guy a break because he's so different from all the other reality show winners that other people are having a hard time adjusting to him. Give him another album, if it does better than Right Now did, keep him on the label but if it doesn't, keep trying. This guy's a slow burn - you can't put his album on and expect everyone to like him in an instant because he's not sanitized R&B or a stadium ballad singer. He sings gorgeous songs and looks awkward when he performs but that's what makes him so endearing.

Yes, chart positions help a great deal in keeping a recording contract but they shouldn't be the only basis. Leon had already established a fan base(me included!) and he had a repertoire of gorgeous original songs written just for him - don't you think that was a huge waste of money to have them written then drop the guy? These songs won't be performed anymore and it's a shame because some of them had the potential to become classics.

This is almost all the record company's fault. I mean, you put out a single with no video, no promo and expect it to magically turn up on the charts? Even the people who get the lowest of low chart positions do promo - it's a fact of the recording industry. A single with virtually no promotion and an album with hardly any promo also cannot be grounds for dropping such a gorgeous voice.

Yes, he can find another record company but which of the Big 4 is gonna take him in? They know he tanked with Sony BMG and they won't want anything to do with him because of it. He'll be forever stuck as an indie artist posting covers on YouTube(not stereotyping or anything, people get discovered on YouTube but what I mean is he'll never be noticed on YT by the record companies).

That's the danger of these reality shows. You hype all the contestants up and they're in their own little world of voting, three to four judges telling them what they did right and wrong and a couple hundred people in the audience made up of their family, friends and people who will scream as long as you give them live music and Simon Cowell talking. They learn to live in that world so well that once they get out into the real one - they're clueless. They know nothing about how much more ruthless it actually is and how much chart positions matter - fail to get a number one in like three tries even if your singles are top three and you're in deep trouble.

Because they're hyped up so much, people think that the real world will be the same. That the contestants will easily get a number one record just because 20 million people voted for them. That's not possible because you can like the guy and vote for him but you won't go out and buy his album maybe because the record company turned him into this machine or you just don't like him anymore.

And yet, the industry revolves around these shows. I can see how people get the chance to become what they want to be but I don't think the chance should be built on false presumptions and padded prizes. It should revolve around giving real talent a shot at the real industry, not making a fake industry and making them think that it's exactly like that in the real world. It might have some similarities but the whole essence is different.

Even after all these reality shows, one thing in the industry remains constant - it's still very fickle. One minute you're the biggest thing since Mariah Carey and the next you're on the heatseaker's chart. Same goes for these reality shows, one minute you're the best of the night and a week later you're in the bottom three.

What do I think of the industry as a whole at the moment? It's thriving, fickle and as superficial as ever but it attracts me - it sucks you into its world and you just keep wanting more.



  1. the shoddy treatment of Leon by Simon is, to put it bluntly, just crap. The album had some very decent tracks on, and creative and stargazing - had they been given a marketing push could have been sizeable hits. What a waste. It's almost like Simon Cowell just wants to wipe out that year and get on with Alexblandra.

    This reminds that even though Shayne Ward holds the record for most singles sold in first week of winners single on the x factor, the record label still haven't given him his due. His first album was rushed out and abandoned quickly, then his second had one double a and a second single, then nothing! And Breathless was just jam packed with hits. Shayne has yet to reach his full pop star potential and i don't blame any of that on the lad himself.

  2. Don't forget 'Ordinary Days' - that was gorgeous! Simon's afraid to take chances with the guy, I don't think he even wanted him to win in the first place but he did.

    I've come to believe that Simon's mission in life is to create Leona Lewis clones.

    At least they gave him a second and possible third album! I know it's not enough credit for the guy but considering what they did to Leon, that's suitable for now.

    Shayne Ward had and still has the potential to be a white Craig David and we all know how brilliant that would be.. hahah.

  3. Such is the world of the music business. And yes -- I agree, it does draw you in, because it gets under your skin and infuriates your passion. Nikki - we are the people to make the change! :)

    This is omnipresent -- where artists get no real exposure, and then are dropped. I think it's a mixture of things -- 1) the label didn't want to shell out the funds 2) a song didn't connect to radio/tv/whatever and the label didn't want to take a chance. The same happened to Blake Lewis. His album was and is PHENOMENAL. But they put out the mediocre "Break Anotha" as the first single. It didn't chart well. He's dropped. Does that make him less amazing? No.

    I could give you a laundry list of artists that got dropped prematurely without a good reason. But sometimes, you just have to say -- maybe it's for the best, because when one door closes, it might be best to open a window.


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