No I shouldn’t go on The Voice, and Here’s Why.

The voice of TV producers, record labels and marketing campaigns. The one voice you won't hear is that of the artists.
The voice of TV producers, record labels and marketing campaigns. The one voice you won’t hear is that of the artists.

Something I hear almost as often as “Can you play Wonderwall?” from my audience members is “You should go on the Voice” or “Australia’s Got Talent” or “Australian Idol” or “X-Factor” or whatever the latest factory idol nonsense is. It’s a hard one to take because ultimately it’s a compliment. They have enjoyed my show enough to think I would be successful on a television talent show. Yet when I hear it, it feels a little insulting. Mostly because I despise those shows but also because it means they kinda missed the point. Music has nothing to do with those ridiculous karaoke shows, so please don’t compare what I do to that. Every time I fumble through words of gratitude and try not to let my opinion on the matter get in the way of the compliment they were trying to pass me. On the odd occasion I do let it out and it is often met with a look of absolute confusion. So let me clarify.

By watching these shows you are not supporting upcoming artists, you are fattening the wallets of record executives and TV producers. The marketing of this crap has done a brilliant job in convincing people that supporting upcoming artists means exploiting their hopes and dreams. Even though there have been almost no careers built out of winning these competitions, people still believe this is how you “Make it” in the industry. It upsets me because the audience really does want to support their favorite contestant, they think by watching, they are. People want to support upcoming artists. The TV producers are sucking up that support and turning it in to cash for themselves and the record labels. They are effectively stealing from myself, the contestants and others that work and live off their art. That support belongs to us.

It’s a tough industry out there and it’s built on hopeful and often naive young hearts. There are professional con rackets that exploit the fact that artists would do almost anything to have the chance of realizing their dreams. The contestants, the people the audiences are there for, don’t get paid. Unless they win, but then they are locked into a contract they signed before anyone knew who they were. These contracts are not pretty and they can last years. Even if you don’t win you could still be at the mercy of the contract you signed when all you could see was potential and the bright lights of television ahead of you.

Bruce Dickson see's it a little differently but make a strong point.
Bruce Dickson see’s it a little differently but make a strong point.

Think of all those poor souls that have entered in these competitions and not made it through. They have been told by millions that their art is not good enough. Then, if they choose to continue a music career, at their next show someone will be enjoying it enough to come up and tell them “You should go on The Voice”. Ouch. But even more so, think of the poor souls that do make it through. I imagine the whirlwind that would that follow would be fun for a bit. Until ticket sales turn into shopping mall appearances, then next season starts and you are spat back out into the real world, all used up and forever dragging around that ball and chain of “Wasn’t she/he on The Voice?”. Can you think of any past winners that have gone on to have a successful career besides Guy Sabastian? Can you even name any other past winners?

I know there will be a lot of people who read this and say “But I love those shows”. That’s fine, each to their own, but please understand they are powered by the fuel of crushed souls. You are not supporting upcoming artists. You are in fact contributing to their exploitation. I have had several friends enter these shows. Some that have even been quite successful. All of them though are certainly not in a better position in their musical careers for entering these deceitful contests. If you want to support upcoming artists, go out and see a gig, buy an album, buy a T-Shirt, share their stuff on social media, follow their progress. And please try your hardest to refrain from ever saying the words “You should go on The Voice”.

Update: This article seemed to ruffle a few feathers with a lot of people as you might notice in the comments. I’ve also received a few emails where people have been very angry with me. I’m not sure exactly why people feel the need to defend these horrid shows but for those of you that think I have no idea what I’m talking about I thought I’d include a few more references regarding
the actual outcome of these shows –

And the truth behind the dirty contracts –

92 thoughts on “No I shouldn’t go on The Voice, and Here’s Why.

  1. couldn’t agree more…i get it quite a bit as well (i’m a solo guitar player/singer on a cruise ship) and while you want to be nice, as their intention was good, you also want to educate people and make them realize that simon cowell and whoever else doesn’t give a shit to the winners after the fact, you’re famous for 8 weeks and then they’re on to the next person…loved your show btw, saw you a year ago st paddy’s day in melbourne with a couple friends (i’m from canada, was down visiting some old pals) and you guys rocked. still listen to the EP i got that night. cheers!

    1. Cheers Adam. Cruise ship ay? I want to do that. My girlfriend and I are currently on a worldly adventure. At the moment we are travelling through Europe, living of my music on an Adventure we’ve dubbed #looptheworld. I’d love to jump on a cruise ship at some point in this trip. Who are you working for and how did you hook it up?
      Great to hear from you bud.

      1. I’ve worked for almost all of the major cruise lines at one point or another, like anything it has good parts and bad…if you’re seriously thinking it over, PM me on Facebook ( and I can get you in contact with some industry types. Enjoy your trip man, sounds amazing!

  2. Well said Simon. Thank you.

    As a musician, singer and songwriter I couldn’t agree more. –> Reality TV is a vehicle that allows record companies to sit on their fat asses and collect guaranteed money for little or no creative risk.

    They stitch up the young newbies in a shitful contract and bind them in creative handcuffs.

    They coast along on guaranteed TV promo to push sales and new names.

    They boost back catalog and new release sales of existing artists disguised as “judges”.

    They dictate what songs are sung and recorded to generate royalties for themselves via their already signed songwriters…

    Multiple guaranteed income streams, all with no creative risk… zero growth… zero excitement. I love a good income stream. And the music business does need to involve business. But in my not so humble opinion, reality TV sucks. All they sell you is the drama… not great new music.

    1. Hey Steve, thanks for the comment. There are many other choices. A lot of big artists have come from the working class, not a lot of big artists have come from a TV show.

  3. If you’re playing on a cruise ship you’re already a hundred times more successful than anybody that enters or has entered into one of these shows! It’s ok to let people know that, too, if they suggest something like The Voice. Let them know that a paid, 6-12 month contract in the arts is pretty rare and it’s actually really awesome to have (Even if the pay still sucks, which it does for the effort sometimes). Let them know how hard it is and was to get that sort of job in the first place. Doesn’t have to be rude or awkward – just matter of fact!

    Mind you after the first few weeks of people saying it to you regularly enough after a show you kind of just smile and nod and hope somebody rescues you..!

  4. The music industry as had nowhere else to go but this type of show and for music fans…commercial music fans that is, it suits just fine. I dont know your music Simon but i am guessing Sony isnt breaking down your door as a loop artist.
    Now..thats not a swipe. Just pointing out that the show has a demo and they are the same that are happy to hear a song..sing along and then forget it forever. Why? Because they have been groomed that way.
    Artist Development doesnt really mean that with the big guys on the larger scale does it? It has been a long time since artists/bands had a few albums to develop their sound and an audience all while in the comfort of a major label.
    As a result, fans are often fickle and very unforgiving. If you suck for even a little while, you are forgotten. And why shouldnt you be? If a mechanic sucks a fixing cars, he goes out of business right?
    Its the way it is and there really isnt a lot wrong with it.
    The Voice hasnt wrecked any industry you’re a part of. Its audience, labels and endorsements were never yours to have.

    1. Well said Todd. A good friend of mine is currently on the Voice rollercoaster. He’s seeing it from the inside and yeah it is pretty much as you say Simon.
      My friend has a talent, and has struggled like so many musicians to “make a living”.
      He puts on sensational shows to pubs full of people on smartphones taking selfies and telling him “he should be on the Voice”.
      For someone who may really be struggling with some direction in their life then it’s a cool thing, a boost, yeah he may forever be that guy from the Voice for now he’s having the best time he’s ever had in his life.
      Where he goes in the aftermath is up to him. He’ll forever have the friendship and support of family and friends and he’s no less of a talent/entertainer/artist for carrying the Voice label.

    2. Well said Todd, in fact you nailed it. yep if you you have 500 million hits on youtube you have sold out and shit you are even signed to a major label a hanging offence, yeah my name is Calvin Harris and I write songs for the masses sorry I am not an artist and have no passion for the music, its all contrived as I just want to get rich and sell out. unlike those real musos whose music is kind of “how did that melody go again , just can’t get it after listening a few hundred times , but hey that song about love and rejection is a new idea straight from the heart yep real muso’s.

  5. Hi Simon

    Although I appreciate the sentiment behind this post, I think it’s based on a flawed theory, that is, I don’t think the average person watches The Voice and similar shows to support emerging artists.

    If they supported emerging artists, they’d also be going to local gigs, and know that there’s a lot of singers out there who are as good, if not better than the guys on The Voice. Furthermore they’d complain that the focus isn’t on the contestant’s original music, which is really what determines an artists’ appeal, not their technical skill on a specific instrument (in this case, the voice).

    This is clearly not the case, because the format largely hasn’t changed since Idol started. We still watch singers perform covers, and some bad singers still get through the preliminary rounds. The show’s audience is still quite happy, so I don’t think they go to local gigs.

    What’s even stranger is that the judges KNOW that the singers aren’t that great. If they did, they’d give them support slots on their tours, or hook them up with contacts in the backup singers scene. Again, not the case. The artists (usually) slip into obscurity in the year after.

    For this reason I’m not sure if your points carry that much weight. The Voice isn’t stealing your money, it’s in a different market. You’re an artist, The Voice is a karaoke competition. The audience knows the difference between the two, the demand is simply higher for the karoke competition (similar to why cover bands get more money and work than original artists, if you consider the local scene).

    As a fellow musician, I still enjoy watching The Voice, it’s an entertaining show.

    Sometimes I feel really sorry for some of the contestants who think they’re actually going to make it as a result of being on the show
    But then again, there are certain artists who just consider The Voice as a massive advertising push for them, and are on the phones, booking gigs, from the moment they are kicked off.

    And considering those artists in the latter position, in a strange way, The Voice is supporting emerging artists just by giving them free TV advertising – what they do with it is up to them.

    That’s my Sunday night rant

    1. Hey Alan, thanks for the comment. You make some good points but I have to disagree with the free TV advertising. They don’t let you on the TV till you sign the very dangerous contract. Since writing this piece I’ve been contacted by two artists that participated in these shows both impressed judges in auditions and were offered positions. When they were presented with the contract they wanted to negotiate. Both were stripped of their positions in the competition and never given any air time. As if they never existed. You can read one of the stories here

      1. Thanks Simon – I’ve read the story you linked to.

        I don’t think that the contracts for The Voice/Idol/Australias Got Talent would take the rights of the artists original songs, due to the amount of contestants who have used the TV coverage to progress their careers. I’m talking about guys like Matt Corby, Alex Gibson, Owen Campbell and Brothers3. The TV exposure on these shows gave their careers a push.

        Someone noted below that the only people it helps are those people who already were “in” the music industry prior to being on the show. That is also the point I’m making.

      2. I think you’ll find the contracts do take ownership of all original material produced while under contract. I have close friends that are unable to release albums that are finished until the contract expires. I’m not sure how mat Corby negotiated this, possibly he just took it on the chin and handed the rights over so that he could continue a career. Alex Gibson is currently in the UK busking on the street. I don’t see how the show helped his career at all. But yes I hear your point.

      3. If that is the case, I highly doubt that the contract would continue to be in force after your time on the show has ended, and whilst on the show, there would be limited opportunity to create original works – it is a karaoke competition.

        In the case you created a work during your time on the show, a copyright claim, by nature, could only arise when it was reduced into material form, which is pretty easy to do – don’t record or write it down.

        Even if you did reduce it to material form during the show, if the show themselves were not involved in it, they would be none the wiser, and furthermore would have a hard time identifying exactly when the piece was reduced into material form.

        I think the clause you are describing would only be relevant if the show themselves was involved in the production of the work. In that case, they would likely take the copyright claim, sure.

        But that won’t impact the artists who already have a back catalogue of original songs, who then perform covers on the show.

        As for the stab at Alex Gibson and the like, those guys made the best of the publicity that they could, and they did recieve a push from the show. Just because they aren’t rockstars doesn’t mean it wasn’t a succesful advertising campaign.

  6. I have to disagree….kinda. I can name dozens of people who have had their careers started with these shows. Shannon Knoll, Anthony Calea, Ricki Lee, Samantha Jade, Jessica Mauboy, Luke Kennedy etc and that is just in Australia…. winners on the other hand, hmmmmm. Now to be fair some have come and gone, others have come a little way and that’s about it but then, how far would they have come otherwise? Still singing the local pubs, RSL’s, the odd cruise if they are lucky?
    I think what you are getting at is not that these people are given an opportunity but more the fact that they are led to believe getting through to the top 10 they are looking at a life in the music industry, when we know that isn’t always the case.
    Also in the end, as with some winners I wont name, they are their own worst enemy and only have themselves to blame for not getting anywhere after getting through.
    But yes in the end it is all part of a big machine that churns out winners as fast as it neglects them. That is the music industry as a whole.
    Let me ask you this: Would your current music career suffer from going onto one of these shows? My guess is no and if you get through the first couple rounds my guess is it would escalate, or at the very least you would be able to charge a little more for your time.
    It may not be all it seems but it is definitely worth a go as you would lose nothing from trying.

    1. Hey Rob, thanks for the comment bud. Actually yes, I would have a lot to loose. When you enter these competitions you sign a contract that gives all rights to your music to the record label. I have close friends that are waiting till the contract is up so they can start again, some of these contracts last 5 years.

      1. Hi Simon… I agree entirely with Rob, and I do understand what you are saying, however If you are going to make it, recording contracts are inevitable, and not just on these shows so your comment above is rather mute.

      2. I’ve got to disagree, though I guess we have different opinions on what “making it” is. There are thousands of independent artists out there with great careers. Still, if you do need to sign a record contract then usually it comes with a negotiation and is mutually beneficial.

  7. Wat a crook no one is still singing or made famous by these shows except Guy Sebastion.. Wat about Shannon noll australian who has tored made albums that have gone number 1 in the world he does charity events lical country tours and still perforns to this day..
    Jessica Malboy albums number 1 songs sings at Rugby n football games campaigner for weight watchers..
    Taylor henderson number 1 songs n Albums touring n performing world wide n lical country towns… So people who have appeared on the show have gone places n are still going places.. sad u cant see that n write this crap..

    1. Since when has Shannon Noll gone #1 in the world??? His only overseas charting was a #2 single in Ireland of all places, and a couple of charting releases in New Zealand. He had two #1 albums in Australia, then a third album which did ok. His first ten singles reached the top ten, but since 2008 he has only managed two singles which reached the top 50. The other seven all tanked. And his last two albums only spent a few weeks in the charts. So his successful recording career virtually stopped in 2007. Jess Mauboy has done ok, but she has never had the #1 album you claim. She has managed one #1 song during her career though, and plenty of top tens. PS. What’s with your spelling??? Was it deliberate, or are you really that bad a speller?

  8. funny story. I was busking on brunswick street when an irish guy comes up to me. Tells me his name is ronan and asks if i can play “i’m yours” by jason mraz. I play it and we sing a duet right there on the street. Says i have a good voice and should go on the voice. I proceeded to explain that i couldnt afford to have my music career ruined by such a tacky appearance, and i would likely get little satisfaction from pandering to washed up judges that are there trying to salvage their own careers.

    A crowd forms. Irish guy starts entertaining a few girls. sings that song “When you say nothing at all” from notting hill. I laugh and ask who sang that trashy song. Irish guy turns around and says “Ronan Keating”

    I start to say “Haha, that guy has the same first name as you!” Then i realize its actually just ronan keating himself. he slips off into the night after the crowd dissipates

    The next day i realize ronan keating is a judge on the voice.

    That was how i wasted my shot at the big time

  9. Leona Lewis, Olly Murs, 1 Direction, Rebecca Ferguson, JLS, Little Mix… just saying… Google them. I do take your wider point, though… the thing is to never give up.

    1. Thanks Jodi. Good to hear it from the horses mouth. Keep at it. I hope some of the people that don’t hear my message take the time to read your story. So many people have no idea what goes on behind the scenes.

  10. So basically your too self-righteous to go on these shows because people make money from them like they should… Everything these days is to self-promote and to make money otherwise the show biz system doesn’t work. Take those comments as compliments and go on the shows, some people make it some people don’t. If you want to be a pussy about it and don’t think you have the cut then don’t go on it. But don’t mock it till you try it.

    I personally don’t watch those shows because I find them tedious and boring. However when i did used to watch them it was always for the music and the voting system has to happen to get the best people through and to keep the show running. Maybe the voice is a bad one to go on but enough people have made it through TV shows and gone onto a successful/moderately successful career.

    – Leona Lewis
    – Ella Henderson
    – Becky Hill
    – 1 Direction
    – Union J
    – Shayne Ward
    – Alexandra Burke
    – The List goes on…

    (Personally I agree with you in some aspects and I hate most of the artists listed above, but no point bitching about something you have never even attempted)

    1. Hey Zayn, thanks for your comment bro. No not too self righteous just smarter than that. To enter these shows you need to sign a contract giving up the rights to anything you produce (sometimes for up to 5 years) to the record company. I have close friends that have fallen into this trap and are super remorseful. I have a music career, I’ve been living off my music for almost 10 years. I’m no super star, but I’m also not a sucker.

  11. These shows are in tune with the female mind – publicity = fame = higher social status = quasi celeb = the ideal for most women. Glorified Karoke where the contestants ape songs that have prebuilt-in popularity, marketing and the hard work already done by the original singer; in essence piggy-backing on it and hoping to capitalize by association(emotional transferance). If those contestants put the same effort into creating their original songs…

  12. These shows are in tune with the female mind – publicity = fame = higher social status = quasi celeb = the ideal for most women. Glorified Karoke where the contestants ape songs that have prebuilt-in popularity, marketing and the hard work already done by the original singer; in essence piggy-backing on it and hoping to capitalize by association(emotional transferance). If those contestants put the same effort into creating their original songs…

  13. Some of these contracts are inperpetuity !! I mean..why would you want to go on these shows -?
    Yes I knocked on the doors many years ago now – but what for? To be accpeted you have to be pretty vaccuous and empty – they’re really not looking for talent per se’
    I was in the queue behind Chico! What a lovely fella! I went on to tour Canada and Australia after failing to get through the first round! I feel like I got the better end of the stick personally :-))

  14. This is wonderful Simon. A well thought out articulate opinion on this matter! If only the general public understood more on this topic & the behind the scenes contracts these artists/ singers sign up to. I have had friends in the biz go on these shows too, and indeed colleagues actually play in the band(s). (I played drums on the Popstars show back in 2005 & filled in on Idol a few times) so I witnessed first hand the brain washing of it. I remember then thinking if this is where the music biz is headed, we’re f@#$ed, and sure enough it’s here. By writing something like this Simon is so wonderful. To be a gentle nudge to maybe conjure up some thoughts to even one or two people is making inroads I think on all this. Best, Kere.

  15. Well said and yes I certainly will not say these thing to our great artists.
    I am a pretty good singer and have had this said to me in the past.But I only do it for fun.You have made me look at this in a whole different light and I thank you for it.Keep on doing your thing.

  16. Fantastical written! For all those people with negative responses; you’ve obviously never worked as a musician yourself. These shows really patronize musicians and send a superficial message about what it’s like to be a one. Good music doesn’t just come from ‘passion and emotion’, it also comes from long, hard work just like any other job. The voice sends a very skewed and superficial message about music itself and completely destroys an artists value when they forced into being a product of a brand that is marketed towards YOU. Thank you for a wonderful and insightful read.

  17. Notice how the only people who turn these shows into a “career” are people who already worked in the industry and had a career. Just used the show to take it up a notch.

  18. You’ve articulated so clearly what I’ve been hearing from friends in the industry for a few years now – these shows are not and have never been FOR the musicians or their music.

    I’ve a good friend who did quite well in one of these, and he’s also ‘doing his time’ til he can start playing his own music again, having not realised (and not sought advice, which he much regrets!) what he was signing away.

    Thank you for posting this!

  19. I think its a compliment that no one has ever said i should go on these shows. I love to watch the auditions… that is the ONLY time you will hear the real singer and performer. Thats who the judges turn for and then they immediately mould them into something else. very VERY far from what that person might love and aspires to be. Sad… anytime after the auditions will you them again – l see these vocalists get challenged to sing songs they may never ever want to sing, but for the sake of challenging them as a performer/entertainer they try to sing them. Often the songs are really inaapropiate to that persons style n vibe.

    Imagine Delta Goodrem getting onto the show and she gets given an Iron Maiden song to sing, you know, to challenge her as an artist… ( extreme example)

    Reality is, I doubt any of the so called coaches would win one of these contests if they entered them.

  20. Amen man! As a fellow musician myself, I completely 100% agree with what you’ve written.
    Thanks for speaking out about these ridiculous shows.

  21. Simon! old mate!

    I wrote a massive essay of a reply then deleted it all, because you wrote it so well! I totally back you – I have so many friends in the same situation too mate!

    1. Ha, Cheers Mark. There have been a few haters but that’s to be expected, we are on the internet. Otherwise though it has been so well received. See you next time I’m in Sydney bud. I’m on a never ending worldly tour at the moment #looptheworld but it’s bringing me back to Aus for the month of Nov and I’ll be touring up the east coast. See you then.

  22. I agree with you completely but I’d like to add another reason to dislike these shows and their message. I was a musical theatre performer for the last 25. I had a pretty successful career as a dancer/singer/ actor. Although those titles moved around as I got older. I have recently moved into teaching performing arts in a primary school. I have had a few discussions with the kids about what I used to do and it’s very sweet when they realise they things I achieved, but it is marred 80% of the time with the comment ‘ are you famous Miss?’ I subdue my urge to face palm and very calmly explain fame has nothing to do with success in the industry. But hey what would I know I’m just an old lady

    1. Thanks Melissa, exactly and it’s not just the kids that have this skewed look on the success of an artist. I travel the world playing music for a living. I earn enough money to support myself and my girl friend. I’m not rich, nor am I famous but in my mind I’m living what I always dreamed of. When people tell me I need to go on one of these shows to “Make it” I tell them. “I travel the world with the woman I love, living off what I love to do. I’ve made it already.”

  23. Hi Simon.
    What a great read. Well put, I’m a mother of a young musician and I personally have said to him you should try out for these Talent shows, also when he has done gigs he has also had people approach him and say you should go on The Voice etc… After reading your opinion on this I am very grateful to you for opening my eyes. One of our best friends advised my young son to look you up on YouTube as he uses looping equipment too. Thank you

    1. Wow thanks Rae. This is so good to hear. Not just that your son is looping but also that my article may have helped him avoid the trap that is soaking up all the potential of young artists and lock it away in greedy record label volts. If the young fella has any questions about looping, tell him to get in contact. I’d be more than happy to give him some pointers.

      1. Thank you for your reply. I will certainly let him know that your there for advise, that will mean a lot to him. 😊👍🏼

  24. Ahhh yes I did enjoy reading this! Spot on to and you’ve bought even further thoughts to my attention I had previously failed to think about.

    As one of those sad little suckers who have tried and failed (at least 8 times – auditions) it sucks getting rejected in the harshest possible meaning of the word simply being told “you are not good enough” I mean no one likes that shit.

    Hay I’m far from talented, I can hold a tune and I think I sing alright but seeing people like yourself who could very well make it big purely because of the type of musician/artist you are and knowing that these big TV phenomenons are basically ruining the music industry by making it almost impossible for real talent to make a name for its self, well it pisses me off frankly.

    I’ve seen WAY TO MANY incredibly talented and humble people go into these shows and get spat out! To knock a few out, bella ferraro released 2 singles and quit music, joe Moore (recently appearing on the voice) was on AGT ’12 released an EP was talked about for 6 months or so and then come end 2013 was hardly heard from, FATAI V (the voice 12′ I think INSANE voice and I mean like legendary vocals but now back to square one writing her own stuff and posting covers, Andrew desilva (I watched WIN agt 12′) back in I believe 2013 I saw a poster and he was an opening act for Samantha jade, one of my fave bands “the collective” split last year after already losing a band member, what I was told after that opened my eyes to the hideous truths of these shows! Now the members are back on the road of trying to make it big after already being up there.
    Kate deraugo, I would be surprised if anyone remembers her from Australian idol. I do cos I was a massive fan still and after so long she’s finally released some music. Karise Eden the vioce winner, although still doing what she loves, is hardly known anymore. The list continues sadly of amazing artists who have been chewed up and spat out by RECORD LABELS!

    The biggest success stories I’ve seen come from these shows other than GUY would be Jess Mauboy, stan walker, Reece Mastin, and really that’s about all I can think of! I mean 1D is the extreme case where the whole world seem to just go nuts but nothing as big as them had ever happened.

    It’s great to see some of these artists who have struggled and made it big actually do their own labels. Gives the real artist a chance I think 🙂

    But again so on point with this. ❤️ Felt like I would share a little opinion haha

  25. I like the general kindness that’s being extended here, even among folks who disagree. So nice going Simon. I’m a session guitarist. I do it because I love it. I create music, because it’s one of the things I was born to do. I was also born to be a husband to my wife, a father to my kids, and hopefully a person to strives to leave this planet just a little better than I found it. But if other people have found a way to monetize it, that’s okay. The music remains. Now that it’s gotten more tough to monetize this form of art, we hear more and more from folks who long for the old days, when there was an actual living to be made. To these people I ask, why did you start playing in the first place? Do get rich and famous? To make money? Makes me chuckle just to type that. Such a person might be called an entrepreneur (probably not so successful), but not an artist. I say we accept that there are new ways to create music (like looping) and that there are new ways to hear music, and support it. I’d come to your show Simon… and I wouldn’t get upset that the cover charge I pay doesn’t ALL go to you. It’s just business.

    Bruce Dickinson is quoted as saying that the kids on these shows only want to be famous, but say things like “I just want to share my music”. All I can say is that I’m glad I wasn’t being quoted when I was 18, or 22, or whatever the average age is for participants in shows like the Voice. Shows like that are just one way to promote music. Live shows, cruise ships, school talent shows, YouTube…. the list sure has gotten long. But lets not be bitter that people are “fattening their wallets”. Without the business minded folks out there, there would be no “music business”. Our music can be shared globally nowadays. It’s a pretty cool time to be alive.

  26. Fame on these shows is normally for 5 minuites. … but at least the contestants have that experience. Unfortunately the real or potential talent is used, abused or disguarded. There are so many talented people in the world and these shows exploit that for the producers financial gain. However it’s not all about who can sing the best scales or hit the best top notes. … its about individuality and creativeness. …. NONE of these shows are interested in that .. and as the original post stated , the winner is left to fall by the wayside having achieved very little in the big picture. But there again, after that whirlwind, at least they did it. But… The fall is the hard one.

    The public (those outside the business) are oblivious and will never understand anything other than what they are force fed. It sucks….

  27. I get the whole going on the voice for a shot at stardom if you’re an amateur hoping for a lucky break, and to have some fun on a reality tv show… however, for a career musician who’s been making a living from just music 100%, it is to some extent an insult suggesting they go on the voice. It is the same as going to an established restaurant, having a great meal and then telling the chef or owner of the restaurant that they should go on ‘My Kitchen Rules’ or ‘Master Chef’… never going to happen.

  28. I went on the X Factor USA and had nightmares about it for 2 months. its a total crock of BS, and produced controlled environment where you are a human prop, a thing to make them money and ratings. make you question everything and/or go even harder because you know you are better than those shows. keep pushing. we are all here making that REAL music from he heart. not karaoke iTunes remakes.

  29. This has been an interesting read. I’ve never thought about it that way before. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be viewing those kind of shows with a different eye now. All the best with your music journey!


  30. Great work Simon, loved what you had to say. I’m a professional musician like yourself and I’m afraid that defining what success is, is where most performers lose sight of reality. I am gratetful and blessed to be able to make a good living from doing what I love but it seems to me that a large portion of people who go on these shows are not interested in being an artist or a performer but rather on being a STAR. I get very frustrated when you hear some amazing voices on these shows and the sob story that goes with it about how they never made it. Making it in my view is when you can sit in front of a bunch of people who are touched, engaged and moved by what you do and to have someone willing to invite you back week after week and pay you to do it. Look me up if you make it up to Cairns on your eastcoast travels.

    1. Yes Steve you are so right. I often have the same response when people tell me I should go on the Voice and I tell them there’s nothing I’d hate more. They often get confused and say something like “Don’t you want to make it?” I reply with “I’m on a beautiful island on the other side of the world getting paid to do what I love. I’ve already made it.” I was in Cairns last winter actually. Played at the Jack and the under stage at Kuranda amphitheater. Had a great time. I’ll definitely be back one day. See you then.

  31. Superstars can sell out to making money and becoming rich – those with a true love of the art and music, make a living doing what they love. People need to understand the difference and realize that once j dear contract to a major record label, you are owned. You don’t make the riches everyone thinks and, I might add, if you are playing music in the hope of becoming rich, your motivation is wrong and you don’t love the artform.

  32. It’s nice that this is gaining traction. One of my favourite musicians on youtube recently commented on this and if you have the time you should watch his video on it here (
    It’s a humorous take on the process and it’s really interesting how the machine works and how it can get so ridiculous but he gets into the reasons why he even bothered in the first place.

  33. You make some great points. I’ve been told those words myself a few times as an act, and while it’s a lovely compliment, I also cringe as I’d never go on those shows in a million years! Here in the UK, I’m actually now producing a TV show for unsigned acts – no exploitation, no contracts, no derision of the artists for ‘entertainment’ purposes. What we want to do is just get talented peoples’ music on TV and that’s it! Fingers crossed we can get it off the ground, fingers crossed someone will watch it, and kudos to you again for a great post!

  34. Brother! You are bursting my bubble. After four years without TV and traveled the world twice, I have just found the voice. The other night there were two kids from Byron Bay for through at 17 years old a piece. The were brilliant! I thought of you immediately but I didn’t think you should be on the show because I know you are in a world tour which will never end. I thought you would be proud of them.

    We all know that Simon Cowell is a shark and the music scene is weird. I was a bodyguard for years and know first hand how weird it is. I am a big Foo Fighters and Simon Wright fan and believe in what you guys stand for. We would never see you perform or even be inspired by music unless it was shown on TV or radio. I know this because for the first time in a long time I live in a remote mountain with no internet and a TV.

    The only channel we watch and only show we watch it the Voice 🙂 so I suggest we get together and create a new show which showcases career musicians and have band auditions in pubs and parks. Something worth thinking about. If we can’t stop the greedy, we can at least run at their pace and take it from them no?

    Love you bro.

    1. Already running faster Denny. “We would never see you perform or even be inspired by music unless it was shown on TV or radio.” You saw me. Wasn’t on TV or Radio, it was on your stage at Raw. Raw, that’s the real shit. Way more inspiring. What were the kids names? Without checking google. If you can’t remember then despite their talent/performance it means nothing compared to what we have shared.
      Love you too bro. Give Lisa a big hug from Hannah and me.

  35. Hi there obviously you are entitled to your opinion although i think there are a few flaws in your argument. As a parent of a recent non winning contestant i have concerns re some of your suggestions. It would appear that you assume that all the entrants are too stupid to have thought through the issues. Myself and my son had a long discussion about his entry, possibility of exploitation, chance of success, what he would think if he “failed’ and what would he do. He entered the program specifically for the experience and has had nothing but positive feedback from 10s of thousands of people including all of the Coaches. He is not crushed in fact now he has a real sense of where his talents lie and sees the whole show as a positive experience. He met a fantastic group of talented artists and we all had a ball. Not really sure who you are, never heard your music and if your MO is knock something which you obviously didn’t have the balls to try then i’m not likely to listen to your aggrieved view of the world through your music. How about you bottle up your bile and write a few decent lyrics instead of knocking those who get out and give it a try. Congratulations to everyone who performed on this years Voice Australia, each and every one sparkling in their own way.

    1. Never knocked anyone giving it a try mate, read it again. I have a lot of love and support for my fellow musicians. And how bout you go have a listen to my music before dishing out your own bile.

      1. do you even read what you wrote, you were knocking everyone, producers and staff are deceiftul? Parents and artists are naive you couldn’t be more wrong. We all spent a day with the producers and the owner of the show and they were blunt and to the point about the slim chance of mega success what they did confirm that the Voice was an entertainment show, the staff and producers were all fantastic, the psychologist for artist welfare was very professional and there were no crushed souls all feedback was very constructive and I am intimate with the most recent group of people who are not in the finals and they while obviously dissapointed are all better for the experience. If you haven’t been involved doesn’t this only mean that you are prepared to slander on the hearsay of others.

      2. Hey Adam, I’m glad your sons experience was a good one. I hope he goes on to have a long and fruitful career. I have been contacted by many ex-contestants since writing this article that did not have such an enjoyable time and they have thanked me for writing an insightful piece. I know you don’t agree, but oh well, you can’t please everyone. I have read what I wrote many times, it’s was very considered and close to my heart. I’m not sure where about’s I mentioned parents or staff, I think you may be reading between the lines there, but while we are on the subject. Yes, most people are naive when it comes to the music industry. Behind the bright lights it can be a nasty business. That is not an insult, just a fact. What is it that you do for a profession? I’m sure when it comes to that, I’d be rather naive. It’s interesting that they need a psychologist for artist welfare on the show. Like I said I have nothing but love and support for my fellow musicians, you may find this difficult to understand but that is where the inspiration for this piece came from. I think it is quite clear who I’m having a go at and that is the TV producers and record labels. I’d love to hear some of your sons music please post a link and while your here check out a tune or two of mine. There is a link at the top of this page. I think you’ll find that aggrieved is probably not a very accurate description of my lyrics or music in general. All the best.

  36. my 11 year old daughter is forever being told she has an amazing voice and should go on the voice kids so many are shocked when I say there is no chance I would encourage that for those same reasons! She does lots of local theatre and performs at school any chance she gets and this all makes her happy. Thanks Simon and others this makes me feel that I’m doing the right thing

  37. It’s a jungle out there now. I know so many professionals who said they’d never go on a show in a million years (myself included)… and then we did… because the options were dwindling.
    I also know a ton of label A&R executives, managers and agents who say they no longer have the money to deal in artist development and that they need their talent shipped to them with a built in television audience.
    Add to that, I know a countless number of artists who tried the show route only to end up in the same position or a worse one than when they started.
    I think people will stop making the “You should go on the Voice” comment when they start being exposed to emerging artists via new channels… but ‘how?’ is the million dollar question. It’ll be interesting to see where the chips fall. I have a gut feeling that the future belongs to the artists and industry professionals that can think a long way outside of the box.

    1. hey Brian, Thanks for your comment. I do do covers sometimes. Depends on the show. I never play songs that I don’t like and I never do them the same twice. I use covers to get peoples attention, then I give them a real performance. I use whatever novelty I need, to get them on side. Once I have them I take them on a musical journey. Hard to explain, but if I’m ever somewhere close to you please come see a show. I can promise you something more substantial than a cover set.

  38. Dude, I work for a former show finalist. You are spot on. This artist is writing, recording and working hard, but learning some hard lessons “after the show” I think this artist will make it because of hard work and dedication, but not because of “the show”. Don’t misunderstand me, “the show” did provide some exposure, but that brief exposure isn’t nearly adequate.

  39. So true I’m one of the guys who was on the show, audition didn’t get aired due to time constraints. Spent 6 months involved in the show. Was one of the last to audition so only 3 spots where left with none on the “country” I use the quotations heavily, and walked away with $1400 for my time…..I still get it multiple shows a week you should try out for the voice lol been there done that no thanks! I play and have played upwards and over 200 show a year for years. Nothing fancy just honky tonks and restaurant bars. I’ll keep doing what I do if it works out it works out but nothing comes free and shows don’t make you famous. Those same people that tell you to go on that show would forget you the next season just like they do everyone else! It’s reality people don’t care about the product after the new version (season) comes out. Believe me I have many friends who we far in my season. Hell Jake Worthington was 2nd place on my season and he is busting his ass down in Texas now doing it the way we all do it. Just my 2 cents.

    1. Thanks for the comment and insight. Always good to hear it from the horses mouth. Best of luck with your music career Dustin. Who knows maybe I’ll come catch one of your shows at a Honky Tonk next year. I plan on visiting the States around Sept 2017.

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