The way the world discovers its new favourite musician is changing. Gone are the days of finding the next One Direction, Camila Cabello or Susan Boyle on popular television programming. It's been a while since we've had a breakout star from the world of televised reality competitions. The last ones were arguably Louisa Johnson who won The X Factor in 2015 and Becky Hill who made it to the semi-finals of The Voice in 2014.
This is not to say these kinds of shows haven't worked in the past. Some of music's biggest titans started out facing TV judges. Beyonce, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were first introduced to the world on the American TV show Star Search, which ran from 1983 to 1995. In more recent years in the UK however, TV shows centered around competitive singing haven't been moving on to the next round, so to speak. The most popular singing show in the UK is The X Factor, but viewing figures started to drop in 2010. The show went from an average of 14.3 million viewers that year to roughly 12.41 million viewers in 2011. By 2019 it was at 2.95 million, losing to its competitor The Voice, which had 4.6 million viewers.
Singing shows are not the only way into the music industry. The Weeknd, Halsey and Justin Bieber all got started on Youtube. Other popular websites such as Tumblr, Vine and MySpace have also been used to upload songs and performances from aspiring musicians. Twitch is in a different league though. Since the start of the pandemic, the popular streaming service has seen a rise in both creators and viewership. As a result of artists and musicians not being able to perform at venues, many of them have headed to Twitch. Even though Twitch remains primarily a gaming platform, music has become so prominent it's now a main category, currently standing at 5.4 million followers.
Not only does Twitch provide streamers with a way to make money, but the interaction with the audience adds a personal touch to viewers watching from home. Twitch allows everyone to be themselves and frees creators from conforming to what a TV show and its producers may want from them, which in turn attracts a lot of talented musicians eager to share their art with their fans and the world.
So Twitch is increasingly becoming a viable option for musicians looking to perform, but as a fan of shows like The X Factor and The Voice, I am missing the competition element and the tension of putting singers head-to-head to see who is best. Surely some kind of singing battle royale online game would not only give audience members the chance to relive the glory days of when singing shows were good, but would also give singers an even bigger platform to showcase their talent and prove themselves on a format that isn't too heavily produced.
It would be great as an audience member to always have live performances at your fingertips, and this, coupled with the knowledge your opinions matter when it comes to the vote, is what I believe made TV shows like The X factor popular in the first place. It can be a giant leap of faith for creators to face the judgement of the public. Regardless, the magic of a good singing competition show is something that needs to be adapted for the modern era.