Chasing the X Factor dream won’t win record buyers
Do you remember Matt Cardle? Even though this is On the Record and not Pop Corner, I have no recollection whatsoever of coming across this X Factor winner in the last few years. It seems we’re not alone in this …
It seems we’re not alone in this regard as Cardle was quietly dropped by Columbia Records this week 18 months after winning the TV talent show. Well, it would have been quiet had Cardle not tweeted about this to his 705,334 (at the time of writing) followers. That’s a lot of followers who are not, please note, actually buying his music. Cardle also mentioned “big news” to come which we await with interest.
There are several takeaways here. For a start, winning the X Factor is not all it’s cracked up to be. One Direction finished third to Cardle back in 2010 and look at where they are now. Along with several other lads who dominated past X Factor shows, Cardle failed to turn that coverage into substantial record sales.
Then again, are record sales the most important part of the equation any more? Look at Jedward, dropped by Sony in 2010 after one single and now making out like bandits with a plethora of other projects.
But, more importantly, we may finally see a return to labels practising real A&R and talent development instead of relying on the vagaries of Simon Cowell’s TV remote-control. Yes, it takes time, patience and money to do this and you’ll have much more misses than hits, but hasn’t this turned out to be the case with the X Factor carousel too?
If labels are really serious about futureproofing their existence, they need to go back to the research and development work which they relied on for years. That’s what you need if you want acts with sustainable long-term careers like Adele, Arcade Fire or Coldplay.