20 Nov 2005
The Download Factor
If, several years ago, you’d predicted that karaoke contests were going to dominate prime time Saturday evening TV in the UK then everyone would’ve said you’re crazy. Talent shows were pretty dead, and who wants to watch a load of unknowns and oddballs singing for votes? That’s what Eurovision’s for. But nowadays we have Pop Idol and currently The X Factor, featuring hordes of desperate wannabes grovelling for bad recording contracts.
These shows make a lot from premium rate phone calls and SMS, and now mobile video clips, but why aren’t they using the most obvious thing of all, the music? When a performer’s chucked off the show, get their track(s) on iTunes immediately and promote it at the end of the show; there’s no better time to cash in on their limited ‘fame’. Or why not release everything when voting starts, and make track purchases count as votes? At least people would then get something for their cash.
Most of the work has to be done anyway to put vocals and backing tracks together for the show, the material’s there so it’d be a cheap experiment to release it. The lack of careful refinement and ‘packaging’ doesn’t matter, we’re not talking about groundbreaking works of art here.
Online-only tracks currently can’t feature in the official UK singles chart, and most die-hard karaoke show fans probably aren’t music downloaders, but it’s a growing market with the potential to quickly and cheaply connect artists with fans. Yeah, I know, it’s naive to expect innovation from middle-of-the-road TV and the music business…