As someone with a keen interest in music, it is interesting for me to look at the industry that has evolved using music to create prime-time viewing on television and other forms of media.
X factor is a great example of a show, which purports to be all about music and unearthing talented musicians, when in actual fact it is more of a human-interest story. It is difficult to criticise the creators of the show because it is ultimately a huge success, attracting huge audiences to Saturday night television.
Like any business there are winners and losers but you have to admire the creators' vision over a decade ago. Much as the formula of the show has evolved, the reality is that, in the early stages of each series, only the 'very good' or the 'exceedingly bad' are worthy of exposure. This demonstrates that their musical ability is secondary to their personality traits and background story.
From the contestants' perspective the odds on success are always stacked against them. There have been a total of 116 winners worldwide in the past decade, many of whom have come and gone without sustaining a musical career. They rarely profit financially and it is well documented that the financial gain primarily ends up with the programme makers and the record labels. Despite this, the show provides an opportunity to realise the hopes and dreams of the contestants - even if it is five minutes of fame. For some of them, the show has led to a career in different forms of the entertainment industry.
I often wonder how many of the contestants are genuinely prepared for the highs and lows that they are about to experience. For those who don't make it past the first stages, the disappointment must be enormous. At the other end of the scale, those who are successful in the competition do not necessarily have long-term success. Yet they are exposed to today's predatory media who's interest is in publishing controversial stories.
As we know, the world press loves to build up these characters and then just as swiftly turn on them until there are no secrets left unexposed. It leaves me to question whether the old fashioned route of playing to empty venues whilst building resilience and a reputation, is not more productive. This, of course, does not provide instant recognition and fame but it allows a true musician to perfect their art.