If You Had To Invest $1 Million On A Potential Music Star, Who Would It Be?

Posted: November 15, 2013 in Entertainment
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Based on this season’s X Factor Top Ten contestants. Image

First, we need to understand that the music business is … a business and that means that it’s money which drives this business.  In this case, I’m talking about “return on investment” or ROI, the golden words of business investment.  And, in terms of ROI, I’m going to take an objective look at who best fits the business model.  But first, I’m going to cover as much as I can regarding what this $1 Million is going to cover.

Since none of the contestants is an “established” star in the music industry, we must start at the very beginning.  Does the person or group already have songs/music that can get them started with a bang (for the buck)?  Will … it … SELL?  Every music writer wants to think so because they love their own stuff.  But, listeners can be fickle.  And, the fact is, most don’t make it.  So, acquiring music/lyrics that will sell may be a necessity and it’s important to get the right music that will fit the artist’s style.  There’s cost and time to research to see who’s got the right blend for the upcoming Star.

Then there’s the musicians who will play the music.  And, if the person is destined to be a Star, they’ll need musicians that can TOUR with them later.  In the beginning, however, they’re going to play the music for the recording studio demos and possible new album.  If you’re planning the future stardom of a music artist, you want to have more than just the first single if the music world demands more.  You’d better have more.  Musicians and recording studio time costs money, especially when you’re paying for the best.   And, in terms of “getting it right”, it’s going to take time for the musicians and the Star to get the music exactly right so that it reaches out to the ears of others and is received well.

And, there’s got to be music videos and this requires a production team to get it all “just right”.  That means also having the right Star-quality clothing for the video shoot, plus location, location, location.   Again, this MUST fit the style that the Star wants to convey on stage (and in life in the music business).   This may be packaged into a single recording package at the music studio or it may require the expertise of another group.   In either case, it’s more cash to reach the objectives here and none of this is cheap when it’s truly star-quality that’s the goal.

And, you probably want to throw in photo shoots done properly as well using someone who’s established with a great body of work in just this same music world.   No, wedding photographers just won’t cut it here.    Getting the right one to help create the Star image is a must.   The fact is, however, all of the above needs to be done right for this potential budding star to really make a splash right out of the gates to get a Super-Star rolling.

And that’s just the beginning.

Once things are getting done in terms of the music and the videos, there’s also promoting, ‘greasing the wheels’, to get the necessary exposure and generate the necessary interest.   Now, considering that this is based on this season’s X Factor competition, there’s already online video and some interest by those viewers who tuned in weekly and especially those who supported the winning contestant, so it can be used to get a head start.   But, there’s also got to be personal appearances in the right places and with the right people, especially the “in crowd”.   This could also require some travel, which may include accommodations at various hotels.   All in preparation of the release of the first single.  Promo copies are also sent out to various radio stations that cover the music genre of the Star.  And, in the largest markets, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, and many other larger cities, the Star may want to make personal appearances as well.

Now, if you’re going to spend the money to do all of this, you want the potential Star to be someone who will have the most appeal and garner the most paying fans.   Yeah, it’s back to “business” here.   And in today’s music world, who’s got the most popularity?   From what I’m seeing, it young performers getting the young crowd.   So, in terms of these factors, let’s see who’s really got enough Star Power on X Factor to be worth the investment.

First, the Groups.


Alex & Sierra are a nice duo group, but I still think they don’t have the qualities to really grab a large market share in the music world to be real Stars.  They’re nice, definitely, and also cute together and I like them.  But, this is business and business is ROI.  Would I want to invest a million dollars on them to jumpstart the rest of their music career?  How long would it take for my investment to be returned?   Years?  Decades?   Probably or maybe never.


Restless Road has improved, but they’re still not what I think of as a Star-quality group.   Why?  They’re also nice and cute and they’ve got no edge to them.   In other words, there’s too much nice, not enough “bad boy” image to get attention.   The nice boy next door isn’t the music star.   And, I think they’d fizzle out before they really got anywhere.   I think they’d be a tough sell when what’s really selling are people with some edginess to them, people who reach out to all of the young people who are going through the same things that youth goes through, personal growing pains.   The youth want stars they can identify with and these guys aren’t it.

Next, the Over 25′s.


Lillie McCloud, as much as I love her vocals, just isn’t worth the investment.   Why?  She’s 54 and not getting any younger.   Where will she be in 10 years when she’s 64?   Probably singing in some nice jazz club somewhere, where she seems best suited for her style.   That’s where she belongs.


Jeff Gutt, on the other hand, is in his early 30′s.   He may have a music career in his chosen music genre, rock, but would he be worth the investment?   If I want to be a Rock Star singer, I have to have a BAND behind me and just a collection of musicians who can play the music.    They’ve got to be tight, together, and should be known already in the rock business because you don’t just show up without a body of work and time doing it.    Now, if he were to get together with a band that’s already established, then they’ve already got their fans out there and there’s already money behind them – no need for the $1 million investment.    And, would Jeff really make it there if he can’t really distinguish himself when he sings a Phil Collins tune?  There’s lots of cover bands out there who sound great – just like the originals.    And, can Jeff Gutt write songs that would get the fans?  I don’t know.   I think there’s too many question marks to consider Jeff worth the investment and I think it wouldn’t pay back the investment.

Now, the Boys.


Tim Olstad may have the desire, but he just doesn’t express himself when he sings and that’s my first problem with him.  Although he’s got a good singing voice, he sounds like a studio vocalist doing commercials.   He’s not inspiring, so how is he going to grab audience, fans?   What kind of splash would he make on his own if too many people think the same thing when they see him on X Factor, the second coming of Donny Osmond.   Like Restless Road, too “nice-nice” and no edginess.  My money wants to get back to me soon and it wouldn’t if it was spent on him.


Josh Levi sings the way Michael Jackson spoke, soft, kind of girly.   He’s still very young and I just don’t think an investment in him would get much back now.    Now, he does have some skills and some more that he needs to develop, including a bit bolder singing voice.  And, he seems comfortable enough on stage and can move.  He’s still at the same stage that Michael Jackson was when he was 14.  He was still riding on his big brothers’ coattails and not establishing himself as a real music artist yet.  Given more time, Josh could prove worthy of an investment, but not yet.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable with so much time left before he reaches adulthood.


I previously wrote that Carlito Olivero was the “best” in the Boys category and I still think so.  But, he crashed and burned on the latest X Factor show.   Now, I’ll assume that this wouldn’t happen much.  Really, everyone has an occasional problem when they’re performing – not every show goes smoothly.    But he bombed out.   Now, I still think he has a decent career, but more likely doing what he does best – Latino-styled music.    And, while that has a lot of appeal, it doesn’t normally move up the charts in America.    So, would it be worth the investment?   Probably not.

Now, the Girls.


Admittedly, Rion Paige has a great voice.  No doubt about it.  But, so do all of the contestants   And, she’s still 13.   Aside from that is her stage presence due to physical deformities with her hands which keeps her from holding a mic.   Essentially, when she sings onstage, she’s tied to the mic stand and that limits movement.  But, as we all know, physical expression is also part of singing live.  In terms of a large financial investment, I have a lot of problems with her.   She’s too young to be “on the road”, on tour anytime soon.   She’s not even in high school yet!   And, what happens between now and when she’s 18?   With young people, so many things can change in just a few short years, which usually seems like long years to them.   I just can’t see the investment panning out yet, if ever.


Khaya Cohen seems a little better than when I first wrote about her.   Initially, I felt she was trying to sing with an older-woman’s voice, but it seems like she’s changed that for her last appearance on the show.   But, I don’t know if that was her doing or at the behest of Demi Lovato, her show judge/mentor.   Still, she’s got a plain look and doesn’t really move that much on stage.    It seems like she’s still too unsure of herself on the “big stage”, when it matters most.   It would, at this point, be really difficult to believe that she would be worth the financial investment yet.    I think she’s got more proving to do and this is all about now.   So, not now.


Ellona Santiago has the following:   a dynamic voice, a great stage presence, energy, and expressiveness.   In my opinion, she’s proven that she’s not only comfortable on the big stage, but that she owns it.   She is absolutely dynamic and understands how to really use it to bring her audience in.    She’s shown that she can sing and perform, meaning she can dance really well while she’s singing.   And, she’s got the look of a Star, sharp features that sparkle and a winning smile.   Of all of the contestants on the X Factor, only Ellona Santiago seems to be the one who would be worth the investment.   She’s got the drive and the commitment to do what needs to be done.   She’s got the style to garner mass-appeal and that means sales, ROI.  And, from watching her interviews and when she speaks with the judges on the show, she seems to pull people in with her friendliness, a real advantage when speaking with others who have pull in the music business.   As the saying goes, “It’s who you know”.  And that means more positive publicity which then helps drive the fans to her, meaning, of course, more sales.

The winner, then, is a resounding Ellona Santiago, future music Star.


You can see her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.


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