Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Australian Idol Stalls

The once-proud ex-juggernaut Australian Idol has limped to an unimpressive third in Sunday night’s ratings.

But why, I hear you ask? What could possibly put the kaibosh on this most venerable of reality TV staples?

Was it an audience backlash against professional tool Kyle Sandilands and his penchant for questioning 14-year-olds about their sex lives?

Was it the sudden realisation on the part of the audience that in all likelihood it’s going to be just as mediocre as last year?

Or has the audience started to twig that Australian Idol is just a relic of a bygone age?

After all, it’s just a glorified karaoke competition where the prize is a recording contract. And seriously, what’s that worth?

Once upon a time a recording contract was something to be valued. Once upon a time you needed a contract to get the capital to put a record together.

That meant teaming up with a record company and convincing them to stop snorting cocaine off the arses of Thai ladyboys for long enough to help you out.

But the party’s over. The record companies have lost their relevance.

Now any kid with some musical ability and a few hundred bucks for equipment and net access can record and distribute an album worldwide.

The game’s changed. If Idol wants to survive, it needs to change with it.

Of course, that’s probably giving the viewing audience of Australia too much credit.

It probably was Sandilands.

Kyle Sandilands


Ralph said...

To be fair, they have reported this as a sort of straw that broke the camel's back situation.

After a "which of these snatches is your girlfriend's" segment I think they were pretty much on thin ice, and they have moved the show to a more "family friendly" hour which makes the association even less desirable. Essentially, I think they just took advantage of a fuckwit cocking up for the umpteenth time to drop his silly arse.

Rob said...

Matt, I think you're right about the perception of the record industry as well. Idol has certainly done nothing to the nation's perception of the value of a record contract. The show itself makes it seem as tacky and the careers of the winners make them seem useless.
And deep down everyone "knows" that what you say about "any kid with some musical ability and a few hundred bucks for equipment" is true. But in reality, is it?
When was the last back yard recording that you heard on the radio? Or, if you believe that radio is an out-dated medium (which it may be) that someone actually made money from?

For all that the record companies are outdated dinosaurs, they still have the marketing and production power that no kid with his Creative Audigy and his pirated copy of Pro Tools is going to be able to compete with.
Even Triple J's Unearthed, which involves getting airplay for unasigned and home-recorded artists, results in record contracts and professional recordings of said works.

But yes, the perception is certainly there that this is all un-necessary, and it may be good when reality catches up to it, but I think we're a long way off.

Matt said...

I wouldn't say we're that far off. The last-but-one album I bought was by a guy who records stuff on his own, releases it on the web, and promotes it with live shows and a free weekly podcast of music and comedy. And he makes his living doing that.

I think this is how the game has changed. Back in the day you needed to be on the radio and in the stores, because artists were getting about a dollar per record and you had to sell tens of thousands of units in a potentially limited market to make anything like a decent living.

Now that's not the case. An independent artist makes 6 or 7 dollars per album sale on iTunes, and even more through some other websites. That cuts the number of sales you need to survive by almost an order of magnitude. On top of that you have an automatic worldwide availability. Quality work can get word of mouth going internationally.

We'll always have Britneys and Madonnas with huge promotional vehicles behind them, but the industry is fragmenting. There's now a lot more room for artists who previously wouldn't even have had a look-in to make a living from what they do.

Dave ~ said...

Aus Idle (sic) was never about music. It was about shifting units and fleeting fame. It's course has been run. It's ship has sailed. It's popcorn has been popped. I'd like to think people see it for what it really is - barely adequate talents desperately clutching for fame knowing full well without Idle their talent wouldn't win out.

I would also like to think that this is a tipping point where Australia starts to ask artists what they've done to deserve their status (http://idiotsview.blogspot.com/2008/06/im-gonna-live-forever-im-gonna-learn.html) but I know that's too much to ask.

They'll just reinvent the formula and we'll have a new Bardot on our hands.....