February 10, 2005
Australian Idol: Travesty or Treat?
It's an interesting debate, not so much because interesting or insightful things are being said but because of what's not being mentioned. That, of course, is any kind of analysis of "the local record industry" before and after the advent of Idol. What this "debate" basically boils down to is a data-free polemic, which is what works in newspapers when they want to provoke reader responses.
All the stuff about the virtues or otherwise of "pre-fab pop" and whether being a talented performer is enough, or whether Idol has to discover another Bob Dylan or Aretha Franklin in order to be "good". It's a pretty pointless argument, really.
But those of us for whom this question is more important need to have this debate in a slightly more informed way. From my limited understanding, Guy Sebastian's win has repaid his record company's investment many times over (although he acknowledged that it got harder with the second release), and Shannon Noll's releases have done similarly well. Ditto Anthony Callea's "The Prayer" probably made amint, but Casey Donovan's single tanked (thugh ti will probably recover costs). Interestingly Callea's website claims "The Prayer" as " the highest-selling Australian single of all time", which is a load of bollocks.
So, from the point of view of the biggies' bottom lines, Idol has been a resounding marketing success. If you then factor in the successes of the unsigned spin-offs, Paulini and Cosima, then things have been arguably good for others in the industry, too. So, OK. Australian Idol has been good for it's big-boy backers and for others who's been able to capitalise on it.
But is that "good for the local record industry"? Isn't there more to it? What about the rest of the industry? It certainly hasn't helped Bun' Ber E sell any more records - nor has it helped me turn a living out of recording ... and my bet is that there are lots of others in the same situation.
There was some discussion a while ago about how many Australia artists are currently in the charts. That included Kylie, who is to all intents and purposes (especially from an industry point of view) a Pom, so I ignored it. This kind of hype pops up every now and then ...
But what about the artists/performers/songwriters who are not at the top of the charts? The ones who are eeking out a living without publicity blitzes and ARIA hits? People like my mates Mundy-Turner, who are back in Australia for the first time in two years. We simply have no data on them. We have no way of knowing whether Idol has made "the local record industry" any better off.
And my bet is that he data will not be forthcoming any time soon ... can anyone help me out here?Posted by Huge at February 10, 2005 10:11 AM