Woman's Gotta Have It
Filmed at The Workplay Theater in Birmingham, AL 9-26-09 with Ona Watson.
Song available on Taylor's new album, The Distance.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hicks Reinvents Career Post-'Idol'

Terrific piece by Randy Cordova from the Arizona Republic! It's nice this writer is perceptive enough to understand how hard it is to sustain the huge momentum coming out of American Idol in the short term and more importantly in the long term - and what unbelievably high expectations are demanded. Like Taylor Hicks says, "it isn't really about how many records you sell. The key is to be able to sustain yourself and to keep having gigs, whether it's Broadway or records or TV shows."

Taylor Hicks knows the rap he gets. Once "American Idol" ended, performers like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood went on to enormous recording careers.

Hicks, to put it bluntly, didn't.

After winning "American Idol" in 2006, his first album appeared in stores that December. The disc sold more than a million copies, earning platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. Those are great figures for almost any new major-label act. But in Hicks' case, coming off the "Idol" tidal wave, it was viewed as a disappointment. He was dropped by Arista Records last year.

"When you come off of the show, it's pretty obvious that people can say whatever they want about you," Hicks says. "It isn't really about how many records you sell. The key is to be able to sustain yourself and to keep having gigs, whether it's Broadway or records or TV shows."

That's where the true level of post-"Idol" success can be measured, says Sandra Deane, AOL television editor.

"People have unfair expectations of the Idols," she says. "The bar was set really high because of Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, and that kind of thing is lightning in a bottle."

Indeed, the Idols who have been dropped by their labels probably outnumber those who have kept their original deals.

Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Katharine McPhee, Bo Bice, Blake Lewis and Diana DeGarmo all lost their post-"Idol" gigs with Clive Davis-affiliated labels.

Of course, it's not like the performers vanish. Beatboxer Lewis has landed on a new label and recently issued a disc called "Heartbreak on Vinyl." Glamour girl McPhee has turned to films and has a new disc due in January. DeGarmo is currently in the off-Broadway hit "The Toxic Avenger."

Southern rocker Bice still tours the country and releases products through his own label. He appreciates the boost "Idol" gave to his career.

"People know who Bo Bice is who didn't know me before," he says. "I can really see the blessings the show gave me."

Deane says the fan base these performers are handed from a prime-time TV showcase is one reason they can survive.

"They've had this mass exposure that gives them an automatic fan base," she says. "Then they just need to find the right thing for them to keep at it. Being a pop star who sells a lot of records is a very narrow niche. These people are finding their own markets."

It's working out nicely for Hicks, who landed at No. 10 when Forbes published its list of the top 10 earners from "American Idol" in 2008. Thanks to "Grease," record royalties and his solo gigs, he earned $300,000. It's quite a distance from David Archuleta at No. 9 ($1.3 million), but it's nothing to sniff at.

"Just because you don't have success on radio doesn't mean you don't have success anywhere else," Hicks says. "I think reinvention is the key in this business. If you don't reinvent yourself, you have a short life span."

Even more importantly: He's doing something that he wants to do.

"Taylor Hicks is still a household name," Deane says. "As long as he's making his money doing something he's really good at and something that he loves, he's certainly a success."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to read a postive review of Taylor. What they are saying is so, so, true. I believe Taylor will have a long, fruitful career because he is that talented.