The final episode of TV talent show The Voice a fortnight ago saw Karise Eden win the inaugural Australian season and attracted an audience of 3.1 million. But less than two per cent of those viewers have actually coughed up money to purchase her music.
Picture by Matt King/Getty Images
One week after setting an Australian chart record by seeing four songs debut in the top five, Eden has set some less dignified records this week. Last week's #1, 'Stay With Me Baby', dropped from the top spot to #54. Her #3 debut 'I Was Your Girl' (co-written by Eden herself) has fallen out of the top 100 altogether (not boding well for a songwriting future). Her cover of 'Hallelujah' fell from #2 to #38. Only her "official single" 'You Won't Let Me' maintained its standing, sitting at #5 in its second week.
According to Paul Cashmere at music news site Noise11, 'Stay With Me Baby' has sold 56,800 copies in two weeks, while 'You Don't Want Me' has sold 41,500. Eden's album 'My Journey' has sold 35,000 copies — the biggest sale for a new title so far this year but lower (as Cashmere notes) than an earlier generation of Australian Idol contestants (Guy Sebastian's debut album sold 160,000 copies in its first week).
That means that 1.8 per cent of viewers have purchased 'Stay With Me Baby', 1.3 per cent have purchased 'You Don't Want Me' and 1.1 per cent have coughed up for the album (which is also available on CD, enabling viewers who aren't iTunes-friendly to get on board). That suggests rather strongly that The Voice is not as strong a launch platform for a new artist as the ratings imply, however successful it has been for Nine (and for the judges). That's not a comment on Eden's talent; it's a reminder that big TV audiences don't necessarily shift lots of records.
Karise Eden wasn't the only Voice victim. 25 songs fell out of the Australian Top 100 this week, and 22 were from The Voice, a process chart analyst Gavin Ryan describes as "ratings dropouts" (in other words, now the show isn't on, no-one cares).
We've been intermittently tracking the fortunes of The Voice in chart terms since the show started. Lifehacker is about advice, and the original purpose of those posts was to advise viewers to save their money and vote on Facebook rather than indulging in multiple downloads of songs to ensure votes. The rapid descent of all the artists since the show finished suggests that there was quite a bit of that going on.
Our current advice is to anyone who wants to make a career in music. It seems evident that while The Voice can make you well-known rapidly, it's much less evident that it can give you a sustainable long-term career. The music industry in general is in turmoil, and it's certainly not clear that any other path would be more rewarding. But at least you'll have more than a week to record your debut album and you wouldn't risk being handled by Seal.
Note: a few commenters have been noting that Karise Eden's album has been certified platinum (which covers 70,000 copies). Note however that certification is based on shipments to retailers, not actual sales to individuals: that figure for the first week (digital and physical copies) is 35,000, according to Noise11.