Daily Archives: July 27, 2010

“Life After Idol”

Kudos to Archies for constantly being on the lookout for a David television sighting.  Had this info. not been shared, and had I not needed to be up early in the morning, I would surely have missed his interview on the “Balancing Act” morning show on Lifetime, which came on exactly at 7 am EST.

I also had to scramble through my cable guide channel to figure out how to find Lifetime.

Of course, by the time I finally got to see David (YAY!!) on TV, I was a bit disappointed that the segment was an old one: it featured David promoting Chords of Strength instead of his new single, “Something ‘Bout Love.”

I guess this is where Archies en masse placate me with: “But this is important for his exposure!”

Yeah, right.  Like who is seriously going to wake up at 7 am EST to watch a show on Lifetime to catch a glimpse of David except the most devoted and demented Arch Angel (like myself for example)?

By now, I think we Archies have shared our frustrations with David’s promotion of late.  Things seem a bit disorganized.  This particular Lifetime appearance, for example, which was a month-old pre-recorded interview, demonstrates how these appearances are all about “take what you can get.”

One minute, he’s being aired on Fox and promoting his book, another minute, he’s over on PBS performing for a wide-audience program like “A Capitol Fourth.”  In his two major TV appearances, which drew the largest audiences – American Idol and A Capitol Fourth – he showed up to sing a staple song from his Idol repertoire: “Imagine” on AI and “Stand By Me” on PBS.

It’s all well and good; people who may have forgotten him two years ago got their memories refreshed as they took in the velvety Voice.

But something seems amiss, right?  There is no “strategy” to these appearances except to give David an opportunity to share his one-of-a-kind Voice.

Why is David and co. so reluctant to boldly market David and his career – whether it’s reflected in a new single or in buzz about his new album?

Why are Archies ranting about lack of radio play, as was recently exhibited in Abrra’s “Radio Rant” over at The Voice, or as I experienced in a private conversation with a fellow Archie?  Why was it that, with our collective efforts with “Crush,” we saw instant results, but with everything else – be it “A Little Too Not Over You” or “Zero Gravity” – there is no immediate payoff in maximum exposure?

It suddenly dawned on me, as I listened to the “Balancing Act” interviewer ask David about his “life after Idol.”

One word: MONEY.

I think, as Idol watchers and Idol alumni fans, we tend to forget what the cost is of “winning” or coming close to winning American Idol.  When the show premiered, the PRIZE was a million-dollar record contract.  Over time, I don’t know if that is still the goal, but both Idol winners, runners-up, and a few finalists (like Chris Daughtry for example) are supported heftily with 19 money.  A cheap label like Jive went in with some good cash from the show to promote David, and they had that kind of budget to launch David with a successful debut single and album.

It costs a pretty penny to get a spot on some prime shows, like Late Night on Leno, and it’s a hectic lineup to try to get a spot on The Today Show. It’s why former alumni like Chris Sligh advise Idol contestants and alumni to TAKE ADVANTAGE of that initial wave of success.  It rarely repeats, and in the instances that they do, they result from certain personas positioning themselves to ride high on this wave.  Kelly Clarkson benefitted from being the very first Idol, but she also was savvy enough to distance herself from the show, to “Break Away” literally as she titled her platinum-successful sophomore album, and to get a good manager period.  Carrie Underwood advocated for country music since she was not interested in being a “pop star,” and was fortunate to be released to Nashville, working with peeps who had the savvy to play to her country-music-audience while simultaneously branching out to the ready-made pop audience.

That’s why they are the two most successful winners from the show (and being women, they don’t have to carry the same kind of “cultural baggage” of appearing on a “cheesy” reality show, plus their vocal chops already prove their merit: not so with the male winners, who have far more “cool” and “macho” points to score with an audience beyond Idol).

Other finalists, like Jennifer Hudson, just got a lucky break.  Did she benefit from Idol exposure? Why, yes, because during her audition for Dreamgirls, she got the part because whoever was casting remembered her performances on the show and were interested in giving her a callback.  But, again, in Jennifer Hudson’s case, it’s still a “lucky” break.  Her post-Idol success is really a post-Dreamgirls success, as much as Idol producers would love to claim her (and you will notice that, most of the time, they don’t because, deep down, they know her success isn’t Idol-driven).

If David’s team did “run out of money,” after all the “Crush” promotion, I think this is where management steps in.  You will remember the bitter debates we’ve had in this fanbase, how some were especially disgruntled in the directions David seemed to be going post-Crush.  Even his first solo tour seemed premature for a fairly new artist.  When we think of the results – an insular fanbase made up of fans who would travel any and everywhere to see David – rather than an expanding fanbase, we have to recognize that management at that time wanted to take advantage of Archie love.  Whereas his label capitalized on his post-Idol runner-up status, certain managment members (and do I need to name names here? I think I don’t) focused on the hysteria existing among his Arch Angels, and so they worked on catering to that base.  Which is all well and good, and perhaps doing things “in the moment” is how most people go about it.

But when I think of how Rascal got vilified because he dared to question Team David’s management ideas, which clearly lacked vision, it’s quite ironic that more Archies are starting to open their eyes to the situation.

Just think back to Mardi Gras 2009, when some of us disapproved of David appearing with a then-little-known Justin Bieber, whom we thought was beneath David’s talents. It’s 2010, and look at their careers now! No, it’s not that David couldn’t have been launched to the stratosphere at this point (age has nothing to do with it), not when he was working the same gigs as the Bieber. It’s who’s managing your career for optimum payoff.

Still, all is not lost, I don’t think.  We have yet to see how things will unfold with “Something ‘Bout Love,” which has only been out on itunes for a week.  Maybe there will be a push for more promotion, or maybe it will go the way of ALTNOY.

But, if they don’t have the kind of budget they started with just after American Idol, that is to be expected and planned for. Sadly, it would have been better to strategically launch from the high point one started than to fall down and start again.  Except David seems primed to accept this climb no mater where he’s at.

He’s going along for the ride and is just grateful that we’re still there with him (at least I hope we are, though the sales numbers no longer show this).

Let us hope that he takes a much more proactive role in launching himself back to the top.

“Life After Idol” does not have to mean climbing back up to Mount Everest, as his good friend Brooke White once described.