Music business and lockdown—has the industry gone digital?
Remember those? The diverse casting shows, in which real talent sometimes meets a panel of well-known judges? Even today, many such talent shows are still running on TV and enjoy high ratings. But is it really the talent that is in the foreground in such formats? We are not so sure and think that this may well depend on the type of specific show. In this article we therefore examine the phenomenon of casting shows.
Casting shows have been a regular feature of German television programming since the turn of the millennium. It started with the show Popstars, which was shown on both ProSieben and RTL II. Shortly thereafter, “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” followed on RTL, which is still running to this day. It’s definitely a program that improved Germans’ view of talent shows. But we will come to a more detailed presentation of the many talent shows that are now indispensable in the musical field. Here we ask ourselves the question of perception.
It quickly becomes clear that casting shows do not necessarily have to be factual. Entertainment is more often the core of primetime television programming to increase new viewer satisfaction and audience ratings. Nevertheless, really good musicians naturally have the opportunity to become known nationwide through casting shows and to perform on the big stage. In this regard, talent shows can be seen from multiple angles.
The basic idea of many formats quickly becomes clear. A panel of musicians (who are already successful) judges people in a wide variety of settings based on their singing. An audience of millions quickly becomes the second jury and judge what is considered bad and what is good. In many shows, this is deliberately set up in a simple way, which means that weird tones can quickly be distinguished from the real top performance. But the shows don't show what music can really do.
The core of most formats is and remains that well-known songs are sung, recreated, and at most slightly reinterpreted. While participation with your own pieces is certainly possible, this usually remains a rarity. More often it is about assessing the skills of the participants and focusing on the related entertainment. The focus of many talent shows is therefore more on the reaction of the jury than the singing itself. However, there are clearly recognizable differences from show to show.
As a rule, it depends on the broadcaster and the associated program design as to what really takes center stage in the shows. Casting shows can certainly be compared with the hype surrounding cooking shows on TV. All programs have something to do with cooking, but in many cases the show prevails. In the following we have prepared the five most well-known formats for German talent shows in more detail so that you can identify the respective focal points:
Deutschland sucht den Superstar is a casting show that has been broadcast on RTL since 2002. Specifically, it is an offshoot of the British show “Pop Idol,” which was only shown on TV for two seasons. This show is a mixture of talent and entertainment, in which weak performances are also shown.
One of the most popular talent shows for musicians is The Voice of Germany. The format has been running in Germany since 2012 and is shown by ProSieben and Sat.1. The core of the show is that somewhat more experienced artists are invited to blind auditions and thus appeal to judges with their voice alone. So, initially, only the pure singing is the focus.
Popstars ran for a total of eleven seasons, although it is primarily a mixture of reality TV and a real talent show. Part of the program concept is that new pop bands are put together and accompanied over a longer period of time. Most decisions are then made by a jury and not by a live audience.
Another talent show in the musical field ran for four years under the name X Factor. Not only individual artists, but also bands and duos were able to assert themselves and present their voices in this format. However, the show did not have long-term success over its first three years. The new edition in 2018 initially remained the exception.
Also in the area of musical TV shows, the Eurovision Song Contest should be mentioned. Known as the Grand Prix, the show has aired since 1956, making it the oldest show to have winners determined by voting. The core of the concept is that many European countries compete against each other, rate each other and send their singers into the competition.
Apart from the much larger selection of casting shows shows abroad, the formats are similar. Some of the identical shows are also shown abroad, as is the case with the USA’s “The X Factor” and “Popstars,” for example. In most cases, the winner receives a lot of money, a record deal, and various subsequent performances. It's the same with the casting shows right here in Germany. But one of the bigger differences is what can follow successes afterwards.
Both in Germany and in international formats, the musicians face the challenge of making more of their careers, even after a win. Even die-hard fans of The Voice of Germany or Deutschland sucht den Superstar will have a hard time remembering winners from three or four years ago. Anyone who can successfully assert themselves in a casting show does not have much time for a real career. As soon as the next season of the big talent show begins, the viewers usually focus on new talent.
Germany sucht den Superstar in particular has proven that many of the talent shows are still based on entertainment. A career doesn't always depend on good singing, as entertainer Menderes has proven over many seasons. While it's hard to name the show's winners, performances like this are unforgettable. Menderes has been able to work on his TV career both musically and in other areas. From DSDS he went into the jungle, which he even won. And all that because of a musical talent show.
In defense of this and other formats, however, it must be mentioned that many shows are currently undergoing significant changes. RTL has also announced a quality offensive for all of its formats, which affects both Deutschland sucht den Superstar and Supertalent. The well-known juror Dieter Bohlen, who stands for success in the music business with Modern Talking, but at the same time for speaking flippantly, was replaced without further ado.
It remains to be seen whether the format will be able to reinvent itself from scratch again after more than 18 years of broadcasting with these adjustments. It is clear that currently functioning formats such as The Voice of Germany as a modern talent show place a much stronger focus on the real skills of the participating musicians than is currently the case with other formats.
Unfortunately, as already mentioned, strong singing is not always decisive in many casting shows. While many good singers can be seen in every show, striking personalities are much more likely to be remembered. Nevertheless, it can of course help for dedicated musicians to build up a larger fan base over time and to use casting shows for this purpose. Anyone who gets far and is allowed to present themselves to the large live audience has their career in their own hands.
In this way, casting shows can definitely become a good way to increase awareness around your music, and of course invite the possibly to be booked for further appearances. Those who are shown on television and are remembered positively by many people have the best chances. Whether this is done through entertainment or really through musical ability is a matter of concept for the show in question.
In conclusion, it can be said that talent shows, then as now, are an exciting form of television in which people can present themselves. If you want to prove your musical skills, you can do so in talent shows. Here at mukken you also have the opportunity to connect with many other musicians and bands and make new contacts.
Originally published on July 14, 2022, updated on July 14, 2022