Home / American Idol: Bo Bice and The Musical Spaghetti Factory

American Idol: Bo Bice and The Musical Spaghetti Factory

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While no doubt Carrie Underwood will bring a smile to the face with her rendition of the “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t” jingle, otherwise you can forget about chocolate, Charlie, Willy and Wonka.

What we need to talk about here is spaghetti. (Not to be confused with the little known and even less loved Guns ‘n Roses album, The Spaghetti Incident, or with the delightful chewing-gum-for-the-mind Panorama radio hoax, “The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.”)

As in: What if it cost $1,000,000 to make a bowl of spaghetti and then only 3 people liked it?

That’s pretty much what the old music industry does every day.

In The Future of Music, David Kusek and Gerd Leonhard’s fascinating tome on, well, the future of music, we find this enlightening fact:

Approximately 32,000 new cds are released each year. Only about 250 of those new discs will sell over 10,000 copies. Fewer than 30 of those 32,000 discs will go platinum (ship more than 1M).

That, according to Kusek and Leonhard, means that only 1/10 of 1% of new artists is likely to hit it big.

1/10 of 1% . . . that’s .001. That’s so miniscule, Power Point probably explodes if you try to display that as a pie chart.

Clearly, as our music futurist friends write:

Most record companies today market artists based on a “see if it sticks” approach. They put a hundred different artists on the market, knowing that less than five of them will ever break even. They hope for that one act that will hit the big-time so that they recoup the entire investment across their whole roster of acts.

Rolling Stone, under the gloomy title “Record Biz Still Sinking,” quotes industry suits noting that budget cuts have led to cuts in the number of people working to promote any given album. Just like with movies and television shows these days, the execs have much, much less patience with records that are slow to develop a following.

It used to be a movie would hang around for a while while word-of-mouth percolated.

No more.

If the seats aren’t filling in the first week of release, the flick gets yanked and the studio plays its next lottery ticket.

In other words: spaghetti.

Cook it. Throw it up against the wall. If it sticks, it’s done. If it doesn’t stick, cook a little longer and throw the next piece up against the wall.

Boil. Rinse. Repeat. (Don’t know how? Go here. Final point: no slurping. )

Now. What, precisely, does this have to do with Bo Bice and every other artist that is discovered through our lovable American Idol discovery machine?

What if it cost $1,000,000 to produce
a bowl of spaghetti and then
only 3 people liked it?

This: I’m quite sick and tired of the stodgy, lumbering music industry (and its archaic and teetering-on-obsolete subset, Old Radio) giving some pretty talented, unique and magnetic singers (and their fanbases) the snob treatment.

Just because they were formerly the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful gatekeepers of the charts (i.e., The Establishment), the fact remains that “they” were unable or unwilling to find and sign multi-platinum artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, and (peering into the idolhabit crystal ball) Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice.

Again, this is an industry that has a success rate of .001. I will briefly review: out of the approximately 32,000 cds released every year, only about 250 will sell more than 10,000 and fewer than 30 will sell more than 1 million.

By contrast, let’s look at the American Idol success rate:
In four seasons, American Idol has produced 46 finalists, including 4 runners-up and 4 winners. This group of 46 artists has released at least 22 full-length solo albums. (To restate, this figure does not include singles or compilation discs.)

Of these 22 albums, 6 have sold more than 1 million copies. At least 14 have sold more than 10,000.

The top two sellers—Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken—alone are responsible for over 8 million albums sold.

With Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino, the three American Idols plus Clay Aiken have sold over 11.6 million discs.

Counting a platinum album as “success,” this means that the American Idol discovery machine has a success rate of 6 out of 22, or approximately 36%, compared to 1/10 of 1% for the music industry as a whole.

Yet, the suits—including the hilariously self-described Credible Rock Radio (whose diss of Bo Bice I discuss at length here)—continue blythely to nurse the illusion that there is only one right way to develop artists and that is their way. Credilbe Rock Radio went so far as to pronounce that it “wouldn’t go near” (!) Bo Bice, seeing as he was discovered on—gasp!—American Idol.

Pardon me while I laugh my brains out.

I have much more to say on this point than I can cram into this one post. But check this out: in June 2005, industry bigwigs reportedly were breathing a sigh of relief and exclaiming “We’re saved! We’re saved!” when Coldplay’s X&Y sold 737,000 copies its first week and held the number one spot for three weeks.

Interesting, but . . . no similiar “he’s Saving The World!” sentiments were expressed when Clay Aiken sold 613,000 copies of Measure of a Man in its first week and held the number one spot for 2 weeks. (Measure of a Man fell, barely, against Outkast and Rod Stewart in week 3. However, by week 3, it had sold 979,000 copies.)

Nothing against Coldplay or Gwenyth, but I was under the impression that all money talks.

The good news is that we’re on to them. I once asked: whose music is it anyway?

Well, it’s ours. Like it? Buy it.

Perhaps that sounds rather revolutionary to an industry that likes the odds in producing 32,000 discs in order to find about 30 big ones that people really like.

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  • Nice article. Although you MUST stress the fact that these Idol contestants haven’t gotten the massive exposure of over 20 million+ viewers watching them on TV. I don’t think many artists ever reach that amount of exposure in a lifetime.

  • Tan the Man–

    Thanks for the kudos. And you’re exactly right: the AI artists do have a leg up b/c of the exposure they receive on the show.

    Naturally that accounts for a significant amount of the energy they engage in the buying public.

    OTOH it’s important to point out that several of the AI finalists, despite having wonderful voices, good connections with their fanbases and equally massive exposure, go out and sell . . . nothing.

    Tamyra Gray, for example, was an absolute AI darling, on several relevant scales. But she failed to translate that into commercial success.

    So the point is: the show helps, but it’s not guarantee. The artist still has to have “it” to make it.

  • And don’t forget that first finalist… I forget his name, and I bet a lot of people have.

  • Phoebe

    LOVED your article–it’s right on the money. Radio and the suits that run it continue to stick their heads in the sand while the buying public tells them over and over again with their wallets what they like. Since they refuse to adapt, they are headed for extinction. Can’t happen soon enough, IMO.

    Tan The Man-
    “I don’t think many artists ever reach that amount of exposure in a lifetime.”

    Most artists would kill to have the kind of exposure given the contestants on American Idol. And if they tell you otherwise, they are full of crap.

  • Patty

    And most artists, if given the opportunity of competing on such a program, would jump at the chance! Their juvenile disses of Bo, Clay & the rest are so obviously full of envy that their opinions mean next to nothing. What does an established artist have to be so envious about from a young singer on the way up? They are jealous that the AI kids gained dedicated fanbases, recording contracts & enormous sales seemingly overnight, without all the yrs of plugging away in poverty that most of them have to suffer. That is the jist of it. The artists hate the new kids who got to the top so easily & the radio industry hates the new kids who got to the top without having to go through the normal elitist payola channels.

  • Thanks, Phoebe!

    Not only would most artists kill to have the type of exposure AI provides, more than one “big” star has admitted they would never have made it if they had had to prove themselves first through a grueling process such as AI.

    In fact, many “established” artists can’t even sing that well and they know it.

  • Patty—

    Thanks for stopping by. What you said!


    “They are jealous that the AI kids gained dedicated fanbases, recording contracts & enormous sales seemingly overnight, without all the yrs of plugging away in poverty that most of them have to suffer.”

    I agree that people think this, but I also think it’s a myth that–

    (1) most people had to toil away in the fields and sacrifice for their art before they made it — if you love being a musician and you work in a guitar shop or wait tables so you can do gigs around town, how horrible is that? That’s what you’ve chosen to do and many people would love to have the guts to chuck the rat race and do what you do.

    (2) somehow, even if you do toil away in obscurity for some time, that makes your music better, more authentic, more “credible.” Please. Lots of acts “toiling” away in the musical trenches don’t have what it takes to make it big. Those that do, don’t need to sing in lounges for 10 years before their music is “credible.”

  • Kekee

    Something not quite right when a fan base organizes a massive multiple CD buying campaign to help boost the aritst’s CD sells (Clay Aiken)Creatively all the extra copies are then dispose of by donating them to various charities and shipments over seas. This is a dishonest practice being done in the Aiken camp for the soul purpose of boosting his sells and “status” in the music industry. What ever happened to the general public purchasing a CD simply because an artist is GOOD?!? I guess fame can be bought because Clay Aiken is not that great. It’s not right and shouldn’t count when the same people are the ones buying up the same CD.

  • Cathy Wolf

    Totally disagree with the Clay thread. I bought his music because I liked it. As far as the envious artists who have toiled for so many years…..Kelly C. sang outside Sony? I think it was, determined to get someone to listen to her before she ever auditioned for AI and Bo Bice had been living out of a suitcase for 15 years trying to make it! So not everyone on AI has just had the TV exposure and they have introduced us to alot of great talent.

  • lindakay23

    You know, maybe the record business should get a better understanding of why their business is falling off. Most people don’t like the music they are peddling. Most people think it’s a bunch of garbage and wouldn’t pay a dime to listen to it.

    I had actually forgotten how much I enjoyed rock until I heard Bo Bice singing on American Idol this season. I’m older than I was back then, but I still know good music when I hear it and some of the stuff he sang I would never have known about because I had stopped listening to the radio about 10 years ago. Now I’m interested in pursuing some of the people Bo sang songs by, Los Lonely Boys, Gavin McGraw, Travis Trit, etc. and I am loving Bo’s ability to play with such top notch artists as Lynard Skynard, Richie Sambora, Willie Nelson, Santana, etc. Music has come alive for me again this summer because of him. And I’ve got more money now than I did back then and can spend it on whatever I want! And I want to spend it on Bo Bice!

  • Kekee

    To the poster who totally disagreed with the Clay thread..tell me were you in on that multiple CD buying campaign for Clay’s first album? The one that helped boost his album sells to over 600k? If not then I want to inform you that it’s true. There was a well organized, massive multiple CD buying campaign thrown on Clay’s behalf to help boost his sales over Ruben Studdard so that it would appear as if he instead of Ruben should have won the title of American Idol based on how many CDs he sold. His fans paid a *huge* price for his status. Because of what was done on his behalf (and continues to be done) I have learned that massive album sales doesn’t always mean talent. Funny that he wasn’t nominated for a Grammy that year, though Ruben and Kelly were.

  • Jo

    I cannot allow the comments about Clay’s album sales to go without clarification. There were CD Release parties – 138 of them, in several countries – populated by Clay’s fans who could not wait another minute to own the disk. He was #1 in presales for weeks before the CD release. We bought them at midnight, just like the Harry Potter books. The parties were organized on the internet. Some people bought extra CDs, most of them for Christmas gifts. Other people bought several and did use them to donate. However, what you all need to know that although Clay sold 613,000 CDs that first week, he has sold over TWO MILLION more since. The album is still selling and over three million have shipped. Another FACT is that the sales have been almost all in the U.S. as it had almost no availability overseas. Also, the fans who populate the internet are a small percentage of his fans, and many who attend his well-attended concerts are not even aware of the internet fan groups. New fans appear every day, in countries all over the world. Clay has been performing since he was 5 years old, and has paid his dues for 20 years, Musicals, regularly-scheduled performances for years, over 60 songs on CDs and hundreds of live performances, and will complete his fifth and sixth tours this year. The man will only grow in very well-deserved popularity.

  • lindakay23–

    Welcome back to music! Many people have had your experience, but I’m not sure the industry has totally clued in to that fact yet.

  • Kekee–

    The fact is that most artists with a fanbase that communicates—either through an old-fashioned club or on the internet—organizes stuff such as buying sprees, radio requests, cd release parties.

    Heck, Jasmine Trias’ fans just had a bunch of cd release parties for her.

    Fantasia’s and Ruben’s fans also urged multiple purchases—go to some of their fan sites and check the archives.

    There’s nothing wrong with this and it’s an expression of a fan’s natural desire to do whatever they can to boost their “star.”

    This is especially true in the AI setting where fans come to feel (rightly) that they were integral to “creating” that star in the first place.

    The fact remains, however, that it is very unlikely that multiple purchasing could ever account for several million copies sold.

    Also, it has to say something about fan devotion in the first place, doesn’t it? If people are willing to buy multiple copies of a disc, maybe they’re really committed to that artist and maybe that means he/she will be around a long time?

  • huskerfalcon

    That “multiple-buying” thing is such a crock! Let’s face it, the number of people registered on all the Clay message boards probably numbers between 15-30 thousand. Even if we go with the highest number and that each one of those thirty thousand fans bought–say, 7 copies… well, that would equal 210,000 copies. But that’s hardly the case. I know plenty of fans who bought one. Even that inflated number is only 1/3 of his total the first week. Who bought the other 400,000?? Who bought the other 2.5 million???

    There are some anti-Clay people out there who like to keep this myth going for some reason. I don’t know what their deal is, but they spend lots of time and energy on someone they say they don’t like. ‘Weird’ doesn’t even touch it.

  • Kekee–

    One further point: of course massive sales don’t necessarily mean the artist is talented. No one who’s half-way knowledgeable about music thinks that!

    Commercial music sales are based on a whole host of factors, only one of which is talent and/or musical merit.

    That said, it’s also true that Grammy award nominations do not necessarily mean the artist is talented. And not being nominated doesn’t mean the artist lacks talent.

    Grammy nominations, too, are based on a whole host of factors, only one of which is talent/merit.

  • True, Mr. Sticker. The main factor for awarding Grammys is popularity as borne out by sales figures — which, as you have noted correctly — often have little correlation with quality or talent.

  • Not only that, some people see a Grammy as a sort of a potential curse—it seems several new artists have never been heard from again after winning a Grammy in their first couple of outings.

  • That’s because the New Artist grammy tends to reflect popularity rather than talent. How can you just judge an artist by one album?

  • For many of them, their disappearance from the scene was justified.

    And let’s think about brilliant artists who have never won a Grammy (or finally got one in their later years, way after their best work was ignored.

    Found this at JamBands.com:

    The Grateful Dead never won a Grammy. The Doors never won a Grammy. Led Zeppelin never won a Grammy. Queen never won a Grammy. Janis Joplin never won a Grammy. The Jefferson Airplane never won a Grammy. Neil fuckin’ Young never won a Grammy. The Who never won a Grammy. Buddy Holly never won a Grammy. Peter Frampton never won a Grammy. Lynyrd Skynyrd never won a Grammy. Creedence Cleerwater Revival never won a Grammy. JJ Cale, Leonard Cohen, George Clinton never won Grammys. Cream never won a Grammy; neither did The Yardbirds.

    Bob Marley never won a Grammy.

    Jimi Hendrix never won a Grammy. Not a one! (Note: This year, Bob Smeaton [director], Neil Aspinall and Chips Chipperfield [producers] took home the Best Long-Form Video award for Hendrix’s Band Of Gypsies).

    Frank Zappa won two – one of which was for packaging. PACKAGING!!

    The Velvet Underground never won a Grammy. Jane’s Addiction never won a Grammy. The Talking Heads never won a Grammy. Sly and The Family Stone never won a Grammy. The Meters never won a Grammy. Sun Ra never won a Grammy.

    Pink Floyd didn’t win until 1994 when they took home one for Best Rock Instrumental. The song was “Marooned.” Forget about The Wall. Forget about Dark Side of The Moon. Forget about Wish You Were Here, Piper At The Gates of Dawn, Animals, Meddle, Saucerful Of Secrets. They won for “Marooned!!” What album was that off of again?

    The Allman Brothers Band, who were a pioneering Jam Band since 1969, finally took home one Grammy in 1995 for “Jessica” – a song originally recorded for the album Brothers And Sisters…twenty years earlier.

    The Rolling Stones didn’t win until 1994. The honor? Best Rock Album for Voodoo Lounge – one of the few Stones albums you *don’t* remember.

    The article also talks about Carlos Santana. His eight Grammys a couple of years back were for Supernatural, a great album to be sure, but what about his earlier classics? As the author notes, the award-winning Rob Thomas-sung “Smooth” was mad catchy, but what about “Oye Como Va” or “Black Magic Woman?” The difference: Supernatural was Santana’s biggest seller ever.

    And the recounting above presents only a few of those slighted, those who did achieve artistic greatness. Grammys and sales do not always reward quality. Every now and then, something awesome slips through, but all too often, what “credible” radio promotes and what the masses buy and catches Grammy voters’ ears is not about artistic achievement.

    So, rock on Bice Squadders and Claymates: It warms the heart to see people bucking the trends and seeking out the music that speaks to them, whatever “conventional wisdom” dictates. Kudos to all doing what they can to promote Bo Bice and Clay Underwood and other hardworking, talented artists being snubbed by TPTB.

  • Natalie Davis–

    Many thanks for the great info!

    Yes, again I say: Grammys, esp. for new artists, are not always very meaningful.

    It always feels good to see someone you enjoy get the nod, but you still have to realize it’s got an upside and a downside.

    The Grammys won later in life seem more likely to reflect deep artistic success and contributions.

  • Annette

    Loved the article! I, too, found my love of music again due to American Idol and Clay and Bo, especially. Lindakay23, I echo your experience. Perhaps Clay and Bo are not the best singers to ever have been born, but if they fill us with love of music again and provide great entertainment who cares. I am having so much fun and loving music again.

  • Hi, Annette —

    Thanks! Glad you stopped by. And welcome back to music to you, too.

    It’s all about the love of music. That’s why I find even the choice of the word “credible” (as in “Credible Rock Radio”) somewhat hilarious.

    As I said in a previous post, that implies there is a big checklist by which to determine if a singer is credible or not credible. Whaaat?

    That’s meaningless. What matters is if music works for a particular listener.

  • KB

    This was a fine article…but I’ve known for many, many years that the music industry is just completely out of touch with what the public really wants. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some people who were signed by the big labels only to be spit out, despite being terrific artists. Back in the day, I used to watch the whole damned Grammy show. Now, I can’t watch more than 20 minutes…maybe. FM radio is a wasteland. (Read the Blender article on this…) The bottom line, for me anyway, is that it doesn’t matter where the artist/band is found, as long as they’re good. Should Bo Bice be shunned by rock radio? Of course not. He’s as good, if not better, than a lot of what’s on the radio. There’s even artists like Tara Slone (ex-Joydrop lead singer) who is on Rockstar:INXS. She may not win, but the exposure should do her solo album well, and I’m sure it made some people go out and buy “Metasexual” and “Viberate”, the 2 Joydrop albums. I’ve followed the industry for a long time…and anyone else who does knows that these people sign the flavor of the moment. Does anyone remember Jennifer Trynin? Probably not. She was supposed to be the next big thing…that was, until Alanis Morissette’s album was released on the same day in 1995 and Jen got relegated to has been in a matter of weeks. For years I’ve read about “major label bidding wars”. Well, a lot of the bands that were in the middle of them were good…too good to last at places like Warner and such. It’s why the industry is afraid of the internet, free downloads, American Idol…it very much IS a “my way or the highway” attitude, and it’s certainly not the right or only way to do things. It’s disheartening sometimes, but, great music always lasts longer than the jobs of these stuffed suits.

  • uao

    Interesting take on this topic, but I’m going to have to quibble on two fronts:

    The math bit was an interesting point, but .001% is probably off. That 32,000 CD releases per year includes soundtrack albums, compilations, cheapo “The Countdown Singers sing the Greatest Movie Themes of 2005” -type product, etc.

    I’d say the number of individual artists releasing product in a given year is substantially fewer than 32,000; probably closer to 6,000-8,000.

    Of those 6,000-8,000 only AI’s handful get to be on network TV twice a week; this cheapens the value of the AI #1 records. An indie band that cracks the top-100 has done something more remarkable than a popular TV show personality who debuts at #1.

    American Idol fans seem truly over-impressed with sales figures, especially in a week where Sony BMG settled damages stemming from what the N.Y. Attorney General called “pervasive in the music industry”.

    In other words, I’m not all that impressed with American Idol’s #1 albums; relentless promotion (and weekly network TV exposure is a lot more relentless than Sony’s payola got them for J.Lo, Britney, Avril, et. al.) has the effect of forcefeeding an artist down the throat of consumers who are not particularly well informed about musical choices.

    It’s like going into an ice cream shop where 100 signs boldly proclaim “Try our Banana Ice Cream!!” in red letters while obscuring from view the menu of the other 30 flavors. A lot of patrons uninformed about their alternatives are going to walk out with banana ice cream.

    Believing that the bigwigs aren’t listening to the American Public when they buy AI product is disingenuous and delusional; they know exactly what’s going on. They’re selling it to you.

    The Partridge Family had #1 albums too. It really is no indication of a music’s worth. What it indicates is the pervasiveness of its promotion.

    Bigwigs don’t claim Clay Aiken has saved them because they know that Clay is another in a long line of disposable commodity that predates AI by decades. Frankly, Coldplay ain’t gonna save ’em either, but they do stand better odds of progressing musically than the peoples’ choice anointments on AI.

    Remember: committees don’t design anything well, be they automobiles or pop stars.

    But I don’t want to begrudge anyone’s heroes. Bo Bice and Clay Aiken fans: keep on consuming, it helps keep the economy afloat.

  • uao

    edit: the Sony BMG line in the above post should have said: “…especially in a week where Sony BMG settled damages stemming from payola charges; which the N.Y. Attorney General called “pervasive in the music industry”.

    Forgot ‘payola’

  • Just goes to show… again: Don’t trust the industry, be it “credible rock radio,” the recording labels, ClearChannel, or TV. Listen to a lot of music and buy what YOU like, not what someone tells you to like.

  • Hi, uao—

    Just to be clear: my point in writing the article was not to claim that AI artists are better than those found by the establishment, but to say that the *process* for finding talent (AI) is at least as productive as that employed by the industry.

    IOW: I’m quibbling with their basis for thinking their process of artist development is somehow inherently superior and, therefore, that they can dismiss AI artists as having come through an inferior vetting process.

    Sure some AI artists are going to be flashes in the pan. But that’s the music business. Period.

    Also many people do believe that *anyone* would sell a million records if only they had the exposure AI provides.

    Not true. Plenty of AI darlings have bit the dust when their records bowed. So even massive amounts of face time and apparent love guarantee that people will buy your disc.

    As for artist longevity, that’s a rare commodity for everyone. They don’t call it a sophmore jinx for nothin’. Yet, like others in the industry, some (not all) AI artists will avoid the sophmore jinx and continue to build their fanbases.

    So the bottom line is: it’s ridiculous to evaluate an artist based on how they were discovered. Evaluate the music.

  • KB —

    You wrote:

    I’ve followed the industry for a long time…and anyone else who does knows that these people sign the flavor of the moment.

    Exactly! So who are they to turn up their noses at someone signed because of AI, claiming “oh, they’re not a real artist, just the flavor of the moment”?

    Give me a break.

    Again, I’m not saying AI artists are better than those the industry puts up. Some are, some aren’t.

    Like the artists the industry promotes, some AI artists will last, some won’t.

    But the industry should judge AI artists by the same standards they judge artists they, with their–ahem–superior methods of artist development, find and sign.

  • uao-

    One more comment:

    You wrote:

    Believing that the bigwigs aren’t listening to the American Public when they buy AI product is disingenuous and delusional; they know exactly what’s going on. They’re selling it to you.

    Of course it’s obvious that the “bigwigs” are willing to sell the AI product to anyone with money. That is not the issue.

    After all, the “prize” on AI is a recording contract—and the end of the process of a recording contract is to sell discs.

    They have to give the contract. They have to (try to) sell the discs.

    But that’s not the issue. The point is the spoken and unspoken industry viewpoint that that is pretty much all the support an AI artist should get, no matter what (meaning: no matter how good their music happens to be or how much the public likes it).

    Over and over again radio has declared its intentions to steer clear, mostly, of AI-related releases. Why?

    You could think it was because of the actual music, but in most cases it’s not. It’s because the music is related to AI and, as the Rolling Stone article pointed out, many in radio feel that is not a “credible” source of artists.

    So the question is: does that conclusion have any merit whatsoever?

  • BTW, The Patridge Family got radio play (“I Think I Love You,” “Cherish,” “I Woke Up In Love This Morning”) etc. and, come to think of it, David Cassidy is still drawing crowds.

    The Monkees also got radio play and they continue to have successful nostalgia tours (whenever they can overcome their personal brouhahas with each other).

    So . . . an AI artist is *automatically* not fit for radio . . . why?

  • Kekee

    There were no multiple CD buying parties thrown on the winners behalf that I know of—certainly none organized solely for the purpose of boosting one’s sales over anyone’s. There was nothing for the winners of the title to prove. They had won. I’m sure fans from every fan base buy a few extra copies of their favorite artists CD to have around for whatever reason. But buying in the ridiculous numbers the Claymates have bought and we’re talking per person is not normal. To continue to buy up the same CD on a daily basis..I’m sorry is not normal people! The only reason I brought up the multiple buying done on Clay’s behalf is because Clay’s high debut number seems to be the standard used to measure the success of the others. Any numbers less than…are considered a failure. The numbers Clay needed to bring his sales to a record high was figured out even before his CD was released. Major CDs were purchased in those multiple buying sprees to help ensure that his second week would bring in huge numbers as well. Buying up the CDs by the truck loads only to ship them off or donated in the name of charity is a deceptive practice Claymates use to help boost his sales. Real artists making real sales wouldn’t have to stoop to such levels to say that they are what the public wants.

    Jo, along with those 138 multiple buying parties you agree were organized, the workings of an unregistered charity foundation can bring in tons of money as well to contribute to a “cause”. Unmonitored money to be used and manipulated in any way chosen. Read on–


    I suggest who to those who want to be informed on the why and how to read on. The whole site is VERY interesting and I might enlighten some to many things that went on in the Clay camp in the early stages—practices that continue even to this day. Wasn’t that charity foundation just in the news recently?

  • Kekee–

    Could you address huskerfalcon’s point made in #15? How many fans do you think it might take to make almost 3M in sales?

  • Kekee

    Kudos to the person who created this site. http://cafeallegro.4t.com/jchaseletter.htm
    Some pretty interesting and extensive research was done. I think it’s worth taking a look and should help answer some question.

  • Dotty Brant

    I think Clay has a wonderful “Voice” and is very talented and I am grateful for him being on American Idol so that I was able to hear this wonderful man sing. I like Bo Bice too. Who cares who, what, where or how an artist is found. It is just important that they are found. I loved Clay’s CD and have almost worn it out! I have been to 15 of his concerts and have another to go to in August. I thank American Idol.

    I enjoyed reading this article and the posts afterwards. I totally agree with the article.

  • Dee

    Fantastic piece …. You are right on ‘the money’, so to speak, re: “the establishment”.

    One more very interesting point to this discussion is how record label exec’s ‘push’ extremely hard to have their artist get the necessary airplay. More airplay = opening artist up to bigger audience/fanbase = bigger sales of cd.

    Just this week it was announced that the competitors of the record label Sony, have filed suit against them (Sony) for using illegal practices to have their artists played on radio stations. The said practices include Sony using bribes on station managers and dj’s with unbelievably extensive and expensive gifts, including fully-paid trips to caribean islands, for example – if they play their artist’s cd.

    Suit claims Sony trying to establish a monopoly structure. (incidently Jennifer Lopez, among many other highly played artists are with under Sony label)

    But Sony isn’t the only one utilizying this practice. Surely all record-labels will do anything, within their means, to have their artists played. It is business after all – and the airplay now will affect their $ profit in the long run. Dirty business, just like everything. Ah … the American Way.

    My deep intuition tells me the airing of Bo’s cd hasn’t been pushed that much by his own label, whereas they have been pushing like mad to have Carrie Underwood’s single played. Underwood is going to be a huge money maker for their label in the long run … country-pop crossover’s can deliver huge, huge audiences. And that is exactly what Cowell and associates are thinking about – the long run revenue.

    On the other hand, Bo’s musical genre doesn’t have as much wide appeal possiblities, so they don’t see as much $ long run potential … and are pushing Carrie rather than him. Again, bottom line dirty business decisions.

    The whole establishment cuts both ways … and it is all dirty, dirty. I followed Bo on AI (first season I ever watched the show – only watched because of him), and will be buying his cd, as certainly will others who became ‘fans’ of him during AI….

    But unless stations play his music the millions of other people who never watched AI will never hear his music, and therefore will never buy his cd’s; and will continue to regard him as a “reality tv poser-singer”, and nothing more – never even giving him a chance. It’s a sham and a shame.

    Although, the good news – I think the suit against Sony is really going to give the industry a real ‘shake up’, and hopefully there will be some, even small, changes within the whole ‘establishment’.

  • Dotty–

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Although some here have argued that the industry is giving consumers what they want, essentially, b/c they produce the American Idol discs at all, I think this misses the boat:

    The AI sales figures should tell the industry a little bit about what type of music the market would like to support, leading to more of that kind of music and better support for that kind of music (i.e., airplay).

    But the industry continues to think that AI is only about television and not about music and it’s my observation that that is not a valid conclusion!

  • Dee–

    Thanks for the kudos!

    You have hit upon the crux of the problem:

    But unless stations play his music the millions of other people who never watched AI will never hear his music, and therefore will never buy his cd’s; and will continue to regard him as a “reality tv poser-singer”, and nothing more – never even giving him a chance. It’s a sham and a shame.

    If stations didn’t play this music simply because they thought it was bad, that would be tolerable (although I don’t agree).

    But to refuse to play this music b/c of how the singer was discovered and some lamebrain notion of one’s own “credibility”—that’s ridiculous.

    Radio has always been involved in payola of some sort—money, trips, drugs, whatever.

    But radio is about to undergo a tremendous re-alignment as people go more and more to “custom content” vehicles (satellite, iPod, podcast stations, etc.). As it is, more and more people only listen to radio as a last resort.

    And one of the reasons is that radio seems oblivious to what the market (significant market segments) says it wants.

  • Mary


    Thank you for much for posting the link to that site! Somebody certainly did their homework and it explains a LOT of things to me. I wonder why the media isn’t all over that. No wonder that charity foundation of Clay’s is in the spotlight. Hope they keep an eye on it.

  • Mir

    Hey Sticker!
    I havent been checking your articles lately. They’re still great, as usual.
    Keep up the good work! By the way,
    I’m so sad that we have to wait till ’06 to see AI return. I’ve missed your indepth articles every week.

    I said many times, throughout this season’s AI, that I loved Bo and Carrie and would thrilled to see either one find their “nitch” and “make it” big!
    I just don’t want them to have to take the longer journey that Kelly has and finally get it “right” with an album years later.
    Thanks for all the info and sparking such great comments from so many well-informed people!

    Peace Out!

  • Hey, Mir!

    Nice to see you’re back! Thanks for checking in. Yes, I’m still cranking it out. In fact, there is always more to say than I can get to, writing-wise.

    If you missed anything, check the archives here on bc or on my blog!

    AI5 auditions have started, so somewhere out there is our next American Idol. lol

    BTW, I think Kelly’s “Breakaway” album is brilliant on several levels.

  • Bo Bice and Clay Aiken Rock all the American Idols

  • Kekee

    The only thing Clay “rocks” would have to be Claymates and their deep purses because he’s certainly not rocking anybody else! LoL! Claymates were so desperate for him to have that title they were willing to do anything. It’s Kelly who’s rocking the airwaves now, and that payola thing might very well be the reason why. She’s good though, there’s no doubt about it. But even with all the double buying and payolaramma going on, REAL stars are born, NOT “made” scammed or bought. See here.

  • Kekee
  • Sharon Sullivan

    I have had my own experiences with local radio stations not willing to play Bo’s new single. I was told by each one that he is not a credible rock singer. One Manager even had the nerve to tell me that he might consider playing a song by him if..if Bo was to write his own songs and make his own album. What a crock. I truly believe that they are being paid off in some manner. Carrie’s single is being played over the airways because she is a country singer and there are many more country stations than rock. Bo’s talent is incredible and because of him I started listening to and appreciating 70’s rock again. I stopped listening many years ago because no one moved me like Bo. He took older rock songs and made them even bettter than the original artist. These original artists respect Bo for singing them and making them more money now than ever. It may take Bo longer to make it big but he will, no matter what the radio stations try to do to him. Hopefully, the lawsuits will help Bo. I heard there was one suit where the artist won millions because the DJ’s would not play the artist’s music. Yea! But from what I know of Bo he just wants to write and sing his music. I am sure Clive will help develop him in the right way.
    A huge Bo fan