Monday, August 3, 2009

031 Cowell Factor

Just a week to go before American Idol auditions begin - and still no contract for Paula…or Simon. What’s going on?

And Coming up - Is it the girls or the boys who are leading the new indie chart revolution.

So what’s been going on in Cowell world…Well, The X Factor auditions are over and it's boot camp time. So there's tears and tantrums everywhere, and that's just Louis and Simon! And even boot camp is being held in front of a live audience this year. Can’t wait!

With American idol auditions only a week away - time is running out for Paula Abdul. The L.A. Times, using unnamed sources of course, says Paula Abdul is making is $4 million dollars but wants $12 million to stay.

Big money? I‘m not so sure - last season advertisers on Idol shelled out $700,000 for a 30-second commercial. Overall, Idol took $850 million in advertising revenue. So the money‘s there.

Meantime Simon is planning to work as an executive producer on a British battle of the bands type show featuring Kate Moss as a judge. Because when you think rock, you think Kate Moss, right?

It’s time to kick down the door to the Fame Games Talent Bank and you know what,
just when I thought All day Sucker were all talk, they come up with a brilliant song like Nobody Somewhere. What I like about you guys is your songs tell great stories. Love it!!

And….Jason Zerbin - they say you’re like Coldplay - you’re not - you’re better. Your song Hear Me - proves it.

So here’s the thing…is 2009 the year of the female singer?

Since mentioning the Mercury awards last week - I read a rather pompous piece in the British press asking why there are so many girls nominated this year. Well so what? Who cares if it’s girls or boys. What’s your problem. Are you sexist?

So what if… Florence Welch, La Roux, Bat for Lashes, and Speech Debelle are all riding high……they are all bloody talented! And two of these are on indie labels - which is even better news. Not least because radio stations are having to play Indie artists instead of manufactured pop girls straight out of the Disney school of pop pap.

Yes…It’s a high water mark for the girls right now.

You can argue the current rise of the female artist began with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele. But I believe it’s the internet and programs like Fame Games that have been instrumental in making labels look a bit deeper for talent. Something’s changing…at last.

Last week I spoke with A&R chief Colin Barlow - MD at Polydor UK. Colin told me. Yes, labels are having to dig a bit deeper nowadays. We can’t ignore the power of the Myspace generation, and the new online A&R platforms. And wasn’t it Kate Nash who was signed by a major label - simply because she couldn’t be ignored any longer - she had over 1 million hits on myspace. But even then she couldn’t get mainstream radio play - until a major label got behind her.

The music industry moves a bit like a giant shoal of fish - setting a course - with those at the front with the bulging wallets dictating the direction - and those behind, just following. But this is where the indie labels come into play. For it’s the indies that buck the trend - and have the balls to change direction. They’re the ones that take the risks by signing a Florence, or a Just Jack. They create the revolution. Then the big labels come in and take over. That’s the unwritten law of the music jungle.

Look, there will always be a market for the Pixie Lotts - the Little Boots - and the Hannah Montanas. Pop will never go away. But right now it’s the Lisa Hannigan’s and the Speech Debelles of the world who are leading the way.

Talented Girls or rock boys? - Who cares -- as long as its NEW music that breaks through.

Listen to the complete podcast here or at

The Cowell Factor

If you've only got ONE shot at FAME you might as well get it right!!