The Truth About Music

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How American Idol Is Reshaping Pop Music, Again

Back when pop music was first becoming relevant, artists could become famous overnight. Television appearances such as The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” or Elvis Presley on CBS’s “Stage Show” would take musicians and instantly make them celebrities. Although many groups today experience success on this level and at this speed, often, their careers last as long as their rise to stardom.

Groups such as The Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and The Cab have become famous overnight but have failed to keep the spotlight on them once the initial shock wore off. What made many artists of old great was their ability to catch the spotlight and then keep it shining bright on them. Although much of the tradition surrounding long careers in music has ended, one show is still attempting to carry on this legacy; “American Idol.”

What makes music great are the stories behind it. The Beatles and their journey from England and Kurt Cobain’s troubled life showcase this incredible process and the lasting impact it can have. Fox learned eight years ago that in order to build their artists into superstars they had to make America buy into their stories. Audiences were touched week after week as we learned of the triumphs these performers had reached after overcoming insurmountable odds.

It is this same method that Fox translated into their breakthrough show last fall “Glee.” “American Idol” forces you to learn everything their is to know about the top artists in their competition knowing that once their records are released, many people will associate the story with the music. While record labels are failing daily, Fox continues to pick winners (along with the help of the voting public). The odds against a new artist in a standard record label are incredibly bad. Many record companies report signing upwards of one hundred artists with the intention of getting one hit band.

Fox, and 19 Entertainment, founded by Idols creator Simon Fuller gets a brand new roster of artists each spring when the show ends. Although the winner is treated to the spotlight, many of the shows secondary stars continue on to incredible careers in niche markets (Kellie Pickler has had an amazing country career after finishing sixth on season five of “American Idol). Instead of popping out artist after artist in hopes that one will stick with the public, Fuller and his team build their artists up and make sure to stand behind them.

While the major labels continue to record record losses, Fox is leading the charge into 2010 with two of music’s biggest hits, “Glee” and “American Idol” as the network continues to keep the music industry alive on life support.

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