That old "The Voice" versus "X Factor" thing is about to be ginned up again it seems, because the winners of the last seasons of both programs will drop new albums just seven days apart.
That's right, Melanie Amaro, winner of Season 1 of "X Factor" (USA), dropped her debut album Tuesday (Dec. 11). Jermaine Paul, winner of "The Voice" Season 2, will release his first album on Dec. 18. Not that there is any reason to think that the timing is a bit too coincidental to think that one or the other (or both) distributors thought it would be a good idea to have the two albums competing, but there is a history of competition between the two shows. And there -- forget it, it's just not a coincidence.
Here's the thing: Melanie Amaro won the first season of "X Factor" on Dec. 15, 2011. Jermaine Paul won the second season of "The Voice" on May 8, 2012. Amaro's album should have been released far earlier but has been delayed ad nauseum. She said in a recent interview with MTV News that they were just looking for everything to line up perfectly, a politically correct answer for someone that has to have grown impatient with already on the third single from the album and it remaining shelved.
But Jermaine Paul was on the Nov. 8 episode of "The Voice," singing his first single, "I Believe In This Life" and announced that his album would hit stores on Dec. 18.
Now, of course if they really wanted to make it some sort of bragging rights contest, the managers and distributors and record execs could have timed the releases together, one set simply waiting on the other to announce a date, then submitting a press release that their artist's album would drop the same day. And that might have been the wisdom behind the one-week prior or behind that came about -- in short, one group could have made certain that their artist's album had a different release date simply by waiting for the other to declare, then deciding on a date before or after the other's scheduled date.
And the team waiting? The Paul team. According to Examiner.com, Amaro previously announced a release date of Dec. 4, which would have preceded the Paul release date by two weeks and give Amaro a good jump on potential holiday sales. But after Paul's performance and announcement on "The Voice," the Amaro release date for Truly was moved back a week, until after her performance on the Top 6 results show on Dec. 6. It might be a coincidence and an attempt to spur sales for the new album (plus get in on the holiday buying rush), but it is also difficult to see it as something other than a kind of competitive move with "The Voice."
Why doesn't it appear to be the other way around? Simply due to the fact that Paul and his label had a jump-off date in May. Take a look at all of the "American Idol" album releases from their winners as a metric. Almost all of them have been released within five or six months from the time the winners won the title. There is no doubt that record execs would want to cash in on the holiday shoppers, but they might not have wanted to go head-to-head with the "X Factor" winner to avoid a direct sales comparison. (And this might help Amaro as well; whichever album does worst, the artist and distributor could point at the different releases, new releases, etc. to explain away the difference.)
But rest assured that whichever artist has the better number of units sold, their respective launch shows will take a bit of the credit.
And there's no reason not to think that it won't be competitive. Before "The Voice" and "X Factor" debuted for the fall television season, there was maneuvering in the show scheduling, prompting "X Factor" creator/producer/judge Simon Cowell to cry foul. A few weeks later, "The Voice" creator Christina Aguilera said in an interview that a prime reason for creating "The Voice" was to offer a different atmosphere for the contestants, because after watching Cowell's style of judging, she said she felt he acted like a "d***" and that that was no way to treat people trying to attain their dreams.
So which album will do best? Amaro's Truly? Or Paul's I Believe In This Life? In this contest, we'll have to wait a few weeks and let Nielsen Soundscan do the final adjudication, all, of course, dependent on the same factor that made the two winners of their respective competitions -- the consumer.
"X Factor" airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television.
"The Voice" airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC Television.
Take Home Message: Sometimes being competitive when you're in control of a lot of moving pieces can be problematic. Especially when those pieces are human beings or impact the lives of human beings. We should always be cognizant that there are often other people involved in our decisions, affected directly or indirectly, and we should act accordingly and show due consideration. Although it is hoped that the record execs, management teams, and distributors for the new artists coming off the singing competition programs are looking out for the best interests of their clients, we sometimes see competitiveness and egos get in the way of sound business choices and what might be best for the artists. Because, in the end, what might be the simple acquisition or denial of just another trophy (or padding for a bank account) for those in charge could be the actual livelihood of those affected by the decisions.
(photo credit: Neon Tommy, Creative Commons)