The Voice is an entertaining and successful TV show, earning two Emmys. It’s a feat even the long running and once dominant competition reality show, American Idol couldn’t accomplish. But what The Voice hasn’t been able to do is create a music superstar on par with Idol alums like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
Now, Adam Levine, who has starred on The Voice as a coach since the show began in 2011, is pointing a finger directly at Universal Music Group, the record label that is under contract to release the winners’ music.
In an interview on his Sirius radio show, Howard Stern asked Adam why The Voice has been unable to create stars the way Idol has.
“I’ll be relatively cryptic about what I think the big problem is,” he said. “When the baton is passed post-Voice, there’s some problems. People take over after we do this great job of building these people up on the show. There’s some real issues there.”
Adam couldn’t help himself, he eventually got candid. He doesn’t believe the record companies–Universal Records for the pop and soul stars, Big Machine records for the country singers–are doing a good job of capitalizing on the bit of fame alums garner from The Voice exposure.
“The rollout of all that is still such a mess,” Adam complained. “And by the way, just to clarify, this has nothing to do with what happens on NBC or with the people. In that time, we do so much great s— for these singers, and then they go to a record label that I won’t mention. But they go to a record label that f—s it up.”
“Record labels are — our business is the worst right now,” Levine added. “No one knows what they’re doing.”
“Most of them don’t even do that!” exclaimed Adam, when Howard suggested the labels rushed a record out too quickly. “You’d be shocked to see it. The show ends, and they’re like, ‘Okay, they don’t matter to me anymore.’ This is how they feel on the other end.”
“I don’t understand why they don’t care,” he added, “That’s what drives me absolutely bonkers. And then makes me feel defeated on my end because there’s really not much I can do.”
Adam was on a roll.
“We get so attached and so passionate about helping these guys. And now it’s become this thing where I feel like after I want to be part of it, too, to whatever capacity I can. And I’m glad I’m saying this on air so maybe the label will get angry and f— off, so we can get somebody else to do it,” Adam said.
Hey. Maybe RCA will do a better job. SNORT. Adam runs a label imprint, and he doesn’t understand the record business. What’s more, he signed his season 2 protege, Tony Lucca to his 222 label, and very little came of it. Am I missing something?
Also, to give credit where it is due, Scott Borchetta and his Big Machine Label group has done a solid job for Cassadee Pope, Danielle Bradbery–season 3 and 4 winners respectively–and season 2 alum, RaeLynn.
Adam’s winners, on the other hand, have all failed. Javier Colon dropped an album after his season 1 win that didn’t sell well. Tessanne Chin got a Caleb Johnson-like quickie album after she won Season 5, and sold 7K the first week. Season 6 winner, Josh Kaufman never released an album at all. No wonder Adam is bitter. (Correction: Josh began the competition on Adam’s team, but was eventually stolen by Usher.) By the way, Blake Shelton not only has won the show more times than Adam, but also has moderately successful proteges in for form of the aforementioned, Cassadee, Danielle and RaeLynn.
Adam has his own ideas on how to make stars out of The Voice alums. “In that moment when you’re never going to be bigger..it’s been this whole meteoric rise to the top of this thing, you’re peaking right here,” he noted. Singing the winners single on the finale is a bad idea! Because they are crying and confetti is coming down and viewers can’t hear anything. Remember when Phillip Phillips couldn’t even finish singing “Home”? That really hurt the song’s chances of becoming a hit, 4 million downloads later…
He also believes it’s important to rush a single and album out, before the winner fades in the public eye. That didn’t work for Tessanne. It certainly didn’t work for Idol 13 winner, Caleb Johnson, who got the biggest rush job of any singing show winner ever, and sold very few albums.
At this point, singing shows don’t have the massive audiences they once did. Even American Idol can’t create stars anymore. Idol was created by a music manager (Simon Fuller) and run by ex-performers (former dancers, Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick) and operated as A&R for Fuller’s corporate concerns. It came at the right place at the right time, and that’s why it worked early on. The same could be said for X Factor creator, Simon Cowell, who has personally launched stars like Leona Lewis, Little Mix and One Direction on his own label, Syco. The X Factor USA judge and label executive, L.A. Reid launched season 2 alums Fifth Harmony successfully on Epic.
The Voice producer, Mark Burnett is not a music guy. He’s amazing at creating entertaining reality shows, like Survivor. The Voice is a different animal than Idol and X Factor. People enjoy watching the superstar coaches battling it out for supremacy, along with some pretty fabulous singing. Launching stars? Really not necessary. And once Idol leaves the airwaves after the 2016 season, I bet folks stop bringing the subject up.
The Voice grads can take the exposure they get and make the most of it. There will be stars that come out of the show. Country singer, and Blake Shelton ex-wife, Miranda Lambert was a contestant on Nashville Star, but that show didn’t make her a superstar. She took that bit of exposure and ran with it.
Examples of performers who were helped by The Voice exposure are RCA artists, The Swon Brothers, who are about to open for Carrie Underwood on tour. Ditto Adam protege, Melanie Martinez, who is a rising star on Atlantic.
Adam did eventually acknowledge that the labels can’t be blamed for everything that goes wrong. “Some people are huge pains in the a–es, too. A lot of artists think all of a sudden that they’re god’s gift,” he admitted. A point Adam failed to make: When a label is handed adult contemporary singers like Tessanne Chin and Josh Kaufman, what exactly are the labels supposed to do with them?
“We do a great job,” Adam said. “I just wish that someone on the other end was there to do it right.”