Reality singing shows – where do I sign up?

kelly clarksonI read a blog post recently by a musician who said she’d never audition for one of those singing competitions because she was happy doing her own thing. I can understand not wanting to spend time and money on what amounts to a lottery ticket. However, if not for those shows, we wouldn’t know about a lot of great performers like Kelly Clarkson or Beverly McClellan. Maybe you don’t know that second name but she was in the top four during the first season of The Voice. She may not be filling arenas, however, I heard her at the Ohio Lesbian Festival last year and she drew the biggest crowd of anyone there, probably because they knew her from TV. It didn’t hurt that she was damn good.

beverly mcclellan

If I was a few years younger and had the kind of power-house pipes Kelly and Beverly have, I’d audition. Not that I agree with those age and style definitions, that’s just how it is with those shows. I did audition for Canada’s Got Talent once. I knew better than to do it as a singer. Everyone and their dog enters as a singer and I thought I’d have a better chance as a comic. (Read more here.) But I digress.

If you win the audition lottery, these shows can give you some great TV face time. And if you win, there’s some serious dough. According to the New York Times, 2009 American Idol winner Kris Allen made $650,000 in his first year. Even the top five finalists can earn $100,000 in that first year.

Nah, I wouldn’t want that.

Sure, there are legal obligations, like giving 15% of your earnings to 19 Entertainment – the company responsible for American Idol – for three years if they sign you. Everyone in mainstream music has management costs, though, and I’m thinking that I’d be willing to part with a few bucks, if it meant I still got a few hundred thousand. Allen got $100,000 from Disney, simply for shouting “I’m going to Disney World” for a commercial. Oh and he had to visit the park. Tough.

Allen’s not pulling in Kelly Clarkson’s numbers. However, he’s making a living doing music and really, isn’t that what most musicians want?

It’s certainly not the only path to working full time in music. It’s one, though. If they create a show for middle-aged folk singers, lemme know. I’m thinking I could do this song:


Want to know more about becoming a professional musician? Here‘s post where I impart wisdom about becoming an income-earning singer-songwriter.

About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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3 Responses to Reality singing shows – where do I sign up?

  1. It’s been interesting to see the way reality singing shows have been able to bring so many good performers to light. Of course, it’s also brought a lot of mediocre performers as well, but we still know their names.

  2. Pingback: Reality singing shows – where do I sign up? | Stan Stewart's Non-Blog

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