American Idols, contest, songwriting

American Idols: A New Era of Songwriting?


I know it’s popular to dismiss American Idol as a shallow teen popularity contest. Personally, I’ve always seen it as an equal opportunity level playing field. For singers, it has already made miracles by allowing seemingly unmarketable talent to rise above the crowd. I may very well do the same for songwriters.

Last May, one song entry beat more than 25,000 entries to win the American Idol Songwriting Contest. Regardless of how we feel about American Idol, it has created a very democratic level-playing field for finding new talents. Personally, I don’t think that people like Taylor Hicks, Fantasia or Ruben would have had a shot through the traditional channels: they simply do not fit the mold of teen idols.

We may feel that it is unfair to be voted on national television based on popularity, but that what show business is anyway. Now, I’m hoping that the same thing wills happen to songwriting. There are millions of potential songwriters and that will never have an opportunity to get heard. Having an organized process to seek out quality songs is more than welcomed.

More importantly, unlike existing songwriting contests, the winning song is sure to be heard by millions. In other words, it is the only contest that is guaranteed to produce results for the winner. We don’t need more free gear, studio time or a publishing contract; we need hits!

Predictably, with one winner and 24,999 losers, you are bound to find some comments about how this was “rigged”, how the top-20 “really suck” and 19Entertainments made out with $400,000 by charging 10$ per entry. I don’t see how this is different from buying a lottery ticket…

What’s your opinion?


4 thoughts on “American Idols: A New Era of Songwriting?

  1. strugglingmuso says:

    Hi there, just came across your blog which I find interesting. I wouldn’t say American Idol (Idol of whatever country) will bring a new era of songwriting -songwriting competitions have been around I’m sure… But now every songwriter has a medium -being the net of course- to publish their songs and even promote it some some degree. Take Jonathon Coultan for example…

  2. valerianmusic says:

    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    About web promotion: Did you know there were more than 2 Millions bands registered on MySpace? The problem is basically to stand out above the crowd.

    This is what JoCo did. The web was just re-enforcement. He mentionned in the NY Time article that he got a surge in online sale every time he got exposure in traditional media (TV, nespaper & radio).

    For raw exposure, TV (including cable) still rules.

  3. Hey, thanks for the link. I didn’t know that blog. Lots of good info in there.

    About traditional media. It’s worth remembering that many people do not hve access to the internet. So whenever something that was “huge” on the web crosses over to TV, it gets multiplied by a thousand.

    In Canada, we keep getting late night commercials from a guy named “Estaban”. He dresses like Zoro and plays spanish guitar — very tacky. Yet, because he’s on TV, his records have sold more than 100,000 copies, which is more than any internet-only music succes story.

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