When one is starting out as a musician, one of the most difficult things to achieve when you’re getting serious is attaining an audience; building a fan base, gaining listeners. One can easily do this nowadays thanks to social media– we’ve had so many lucky artists who become instant hits on YouTube. Professional artists bolster their publicity on Twitter and Instagram to promote shows and share songs they’ve written. Yet another way to break into the industry is by joining one of the many talent shows broadcast across the country.

I am only young enough to recall American Idol as the earliest I can remember of these live talent shows. I have fond memories of cramming onto the couch with my best friends to watch live auditions and performances, where rising and confident talents were placed at the mercy of America (and Simon Cowell) to decide which one of them wins the competition. The prize is usually a ton of money and a recording contract, and that’s one of the things I believe helps filter the contestants from who really wants to be a performing artist and who’s just using their talent or hobby as way of getting dollar bills and publicity. If a contestant is really eager to make it in the music industry, then doing well and winning the recording contract at the end of the show is a good way of doing so.

The recent hype in such talent shows is obviously The Voice, and I’ve enjoyed watching this one as well. It is more dynamic, with talents receiving coaching from experienced and popular artists and producers, forming mentor-student relationships with them. On The Voice, an active effort is being made to ensure that even if only one contestant gets to win, everybody has had the experience of developing and learning to become better artists. I think this is conducive to the music industry as a whole. Such talent shows produce people who only continue to aspire toward the kind of star quality that deserves the limelight, and in this way the music industry stays fresh and relevant, making sure that anyone who works hard enough will get to live their dream.