Bad Luck, Karise Eden: How The Voice Doesn’t Actually Sell Music

Bad Luck, Karise Eden: How The Voice Doesn’t Actually Sell Music

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.

The Voice, Australia’s Music Chart Road Kill Revealed [Noise11]

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.


  • Or perhaps recorded music business is dying in the bum? All that music looks to be available on Spotify, YouTube and a host of other places for free or negligible cost.

    The real challenge is getting your 1000 true fans who will buy all your crap (concerts ticket, t-shirts, inflatable likenesses etc) so you can make a living off it. Getting 3.1 million to watch you isn’t a bad start.

    • Great to see that Karise’s album has been top of Aria charts for 6 weeks. People stopped buying the singles because they bought the whole album – in droves. Pleased to see Karise getting support that she deserves

  • LOL Its amazing how after the show goes and everyone forgets about the ‘Oh I’m a homeless orphan’ and ‘i’m a beautiful but i’m blind :-(‘ That they are looked at as actual artists and none make the cut. Granted they had a few good songs.

    • I love this girls voice. You can hear her life story. But I must agree, I bought the album and the backing track sounds like a cheap karaoke downloan from the 60’s.
      This girls’ voice deserves a real band with real musicians not sequences and a drum machine. Can’t wait until she has the confidence to stand up for herself and demand real musicians to back her.

  • Karise still managed to get her album to #1 Platinum on Aria charts ( even Missy Higgins didn’t achieve that with her latest offering) – and that is with many outlets reporting that they had sold out. Many had already purchased songs from the Voice thru iTunes but bought the CD anyway. Because Karise appeals to a wider audience than most she doesn’t have to rely on the fickle teens and has a better chance of lasting – the more mature fans just ecstatic to have something decent to listen to.

  • Does she get to keep the money she makes from her The Voice songs iTunes sales? Or does all of that go to the show? And why haven’t they released on it on another online store, for the millions of people that have a proper MP3 player and not an iPod?

    • Oh how witty – the iPod not a “proper MP3 player”. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave at your comment…
      They released it on iTunes because it is a proper music store with the most customers on earth. If it doesn’t sell there – it won’t sell anywhere.

  • It says her album went platinum???? I thought 35.000 albums is only gold? I also do believe that today’s generation most of the music is bought directly online instead of physically buying the albums. I wouldn’t say bad luck to her, she managed to put off Linkin Park and everyone else to take the top spot. Don’t crap on her luck just yet, this is just a compilation album of songs she performed on The Voice along with a couple more covers. She has yet to put out a true originals album and i’m pretty sure that’s when people will see her true staying power. But she has a huge following.

      • Gold and Platinum have long been held as a measurement of sales in the music industry – hence pronouncements like “Multi-Platinum selling album” and the like. You’re confusing the term with the “Gold Master”, the production version of completed software.

  • Apple……orange, bah! itunes really isn’t a recognised music “chart” but a conveyance. I’ts all going to come down to management of the artist in regards to A&R, bookings etc.
    That, and the exposure of the artists to the audience outside of the spectrum from where they started is what makes or breaks any muso.
    Karise has the talent to be as big as Adele, that was evident from the 4 judges all turning within 5 seconds of her opening her mouth. All she needs now is some savvy management to get her out there so the world can hear how good she really is….”homeless orphan” or not!

    • Absolutely agree with you Ginge, She has an incredible standout voice, it is any wonder all 4 judges turned around after she sang the first 5 words that came out of her mouth. She needs a savvy management to get her started in right direction to be as big as Adele and many others. Her voice is powerful and has so much maturity, I love her voice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I guarantee that the huge majority of those sales to put her at No. 1 were by the recording company themselves.
    Its not uncommon for record companies to buy up big on their own acts to push them into No. 1. Generates exposure and is cheaper than advertising.

    • Having in a previous life worked in the industry I can tell you sir that you are pretty much spot on the money with that comment. Books are also victims of that particular method of promotion.

  • I can’t stand most generic, commercial music, tv shows such as Australian Idol (with their loathesome judges and poor talent) and the X factor, and annoying pop stars. Yet I found myself somewhat intruiged by ‘The voice’ and the talent it produced. Needless to say, I fell in love with Karise, and I bought her album ‘my journey’. It’s already certified platinum, and it’s amazing. I love this style of music, her powerful voice, and I have faith in her being successful, from now and into the future!

  • Karise has one of the best voices I’ve heard of in a long time. Australian Idol are doing Australians a service by showcasing her talents for us. If it weren’t for shows like Idol and the Voice and X factor I would be making an attempt to do something constructive with my life, say help out at the local soup kitchen or do something for my community. But these amazing shows give me the excuse not to get off my fat arse and do something useful with my life. I love pre-packaged singers and shows which assume that I’m as stupid as the next guy.

    • John, you’re not stupid at all mate, iam a sucker for these shows aswell, and this is about as much TV I watch. At the end, cream rises and thanks to these shows we found the likes of Guy, Jessica and Vigden – to some extend, (he’s very good but still annoys me very much! lol). Id be lying if I say Karise didnt get me from the first words “this is a…..”. Pretty much right after all her performances I was all over itunes downloading her music. Just cant wait for her to bring out her own material some time soon. Iam not so much into the “going Gold,Platinum” etc etc, who cares, this girl will be A- OK as long as she gets good management behind her. The game has changed, the critics and haters are out but as long as she sings, sings and sings, all will be fine.

      • Karise did great versions on other people’s songs. Karise’s original songs were great. I will buy her albums whether she does covers or new material. It is irrelevant whether she has platinum sales from this first album. Many are grateful that she has emerged – thank you to The Voice. Let’s hope this the start of a long, fabulous career. Karise will help fill the void that is left after Amy died. Can’t wait to hear Karise sing more Joplin songs. How refreshing is Karise after the likes of Gaga (Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah Roma, roma, ma Gaga, ooh la la Want your bad romance – need I say more!)

  • The ARIA charts are calculated for the week from Saturday to Friday. As Karise’s album was released on Tuesday (with many stores not having stock until later in the week), these sales figures represent only a few days trading. I saw her at Westfield signing autographs and the different between her and other talent show winners is her fan base. She appeals to a very wide demographic. There were as many middle aged men queuing for her autograph as there were teenagers and grandmothers. Not a fickle fly by night audience by any stretch. Karise makes people FEEL things. She’s not going anywhere except up.

    • But the same logic applied to the individual tracks, and with a full week of potential sales, they went down, not up. I agree that more casual CD buyers might not have got the disc until the weekend, so the real test is week 3. But the signs aren’t promising.

  • Angus, you should apply for a job at The Age, they are the HQ of finding the negative in everything. You would fit right in. It is so obvious that the songs were going to drop without the top of mind awareness that the show produces. I run a music festival and spin off events every year and can tell you that there is amazing talent all over this country that are struggling from gig to gig in crap venues playing to handfuls of people. Shows like The voice pull amazing talents into the spotlight to avoid this drudge, if that’s all it does, it has done it’s job. To run that down shows shows naivety. I know you won’t publish this but try and look at the positives rather than becoming a typical Australian journalist.

    • Not a lot of jobs going at The Age right now 🙂 I’m not running anything down (I haven’t expressed any opinion on the artists involved); I’m pointing out what the sales figures actually were relative to the audience. Whether appearing on the show will save talented people from drudgery is something no-one will be able to judge for a while.

  • 2% is an awesome conversion rate for a mass market marketing campaign (which is what this show is). Sorry, what business is Gawker in? I sometimes ponder if you actually know the biz you work in …

  • Thanks for the response Angus. My issue is your angle is just negative which is just so typical of Australian journalism. Try and be braver than that with your writing. We are all getting sick of the race to the bottom of Australian journalism to maintain an audiences attention. thanks for publishing my previous comment, your bravery is noted!

    • When will people realise that there are millions of people in the world that can sing (or play instruments/produce music) as good and better than the worlds most popular/successful artists.
      It’s all about image, popularity, promotion and luck, rather than talent per se.

      I love music, but aspiring artists need to realise that the probability of making a living off their talent is very minimal. I’m not saying artists should stop what they are doing, but they can’t expect to live off what they do, let alone become famous from it.

      I know i’m not directly responding to you, but you are saying how the voice is great because it makes unknown people with talent famous. But in reality it is only doing good for one person, which is the winner (usually), and this is what you’re complaining about, because so many people go unrecognised, and you think the voice is great because it unearthed one artist. Those people that go struggling from gig to gig will still be struggling, while one person, karise eden, makes hundreds of thousands from recording one album.

  • The Herald Sun reports today that of those 35,000 sales, 10,000 were downloads, 25,000 were physical CD’s. iTunes is not the be all and end all of music sales. And to say that CD’s are only for oldies and those not “iTune friendly” displays a simplistic or lazy notion of the world

  • The blind auditions part was the best bit. The rest of it was just like a boring Australian Idol, with the annoying Delta carrying on like a princess.

  • *sigh* People expect to become big and famous rich superstars in as little time as possible. That’s not how it works. Just take a look at the lyrics of the song “Show Business” by your country’s pride, AC/DC. That song really says it all. You play in clubs and bars and you learn the tricks of your trade.

    Angus Young himself stated that he doesn’t like those big idols shows at all, and that they’re rather cruel, because they put these young artists in the spotlight for like one week, and next week everybody will have forgotten about him/her.

    It really is A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock ‘n Roll.

  • Love her story and her personality and she can sing, there is no doubt. “You won’t let me” is utterly awful, seriously if this song was released by Karise Eden pre the voice where no one heard her people would think it’s some Triple J unearthed amateur hour song. I called this from early days in the Voice, Karise has this nasally high pitched voice which has a very short lived tenure before it gets very annoying and very unwanted commercially… dont believe me? Where are they now episode featuring Gabrialle Cilmi and Anastacia… two voices heralded as BIG, The NEXT big thing… both selling perfurme in Myer and Bloomingdales now probably. Karise will go this way i’m 100% certain. De Bono who is hot as a motherf’r has more chances of success… just look at dead beat Johnny Ruffo, he’s on radio FFS, a guy slandered show after show because he couldnt sing… but girls like to look at him and just autotune him he’ll be fine!!! Karise literally will have 15 seconds of fame and peter out to oblivion.

    • See you back here in 6mnths time Harry – Karise already has overseas interest locked in, something the other young talent can’t muster despite dressing like skanks, back up singers etc. None can just stand on stage with a mic and let their voice do the business. I’d say the opposite is true as Sarah while talented, is not unique. Karise has struck a market that hasn’t been tapped for a long time and age will not be a factor as it wasn’t for all the great soul singers.

      • Don’t disagree with most of your comments but the mass market doesn’t buy soulful music anymore. Skanky sells and appeals like it or not. Karise can probably hold a tune better than Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and our own Kylie Minogue but she’s not pretty or edgey and again her nasally voice has a short used by date. And saying she has overseas interest locked in might have sounded impressive in the 80’s but in this day and age that means nothing. Karise should still be popular in 6 months so i’d rather see you here in 12-18 months to really see where she stands. Good luck to her i say, she’s living dream but i just got a feeling she’ll only ever end up doing corporate gigs and the annual carols by candlelight to pay the rent.

        • As for the stars, the four couples from The Block may want to invest their combined winnings of $1,843,001.01, with today’s-reality-star-tomorrow’s-very-well-promoted-busker Karise Eden, The Voice winner, found out when only a few hundred fans rocked up to see her perform for free in Pitt Street Mall last Friday…. from, the bubble is already bursting!

          • Harry, harry,harry… Why the hell u think she won and de Bono came not second,not third but last out of the four, it’s simple, this time around Australia doesn’t like that “nasally” voice you’re talking about, they freaking love it bro! .. Amen to your comments Meg… Iam not an expert in music and record sales, iam just your average bloke that loves good music and a big supporter of emerging artists, I don’t over analyze these amazing artists, I listen, I like, I buy, simple… The stars aligned for this particular young lady ( and contrary from what u said about her not being as hot or pretty as the others, with the right stylist, and she will have one)-she can pull it off and appeal massively to a broad audience

          • She sung some absolute classics and sung them well, thats what got her the win. but her original is rubbish and that’s what will make or break her career, originals! I cant ever see her having an original global classic like Hallelujah! 3 million viewers had the opportunity to buy/vote for her original and supposedly only 1.3% “freaking love it bro!” That’s 39,000 people. 39,000 out of 22.4 million Australians which is 0.17% of the population. Big call on your behalf to say “Australia” loves her voice! I, like you, like many i imagine also don’t over analyze, I listen, I like, I buy, simple! I listened, I didn’t like, I didn’t buy… and i’m not alone!

    • harry Karise isnt pretty ? Sheis gorgeous but then maybe you played with barbie dollsas a kid !
      Her OWN music is amazing it us catchy ,great lyrics ,and a hell of a lot of meaning !
      I wonder what on earth you like if you dont like her to be honest i doubt she would care if she were more popular than the likes of katy perry and others you mention. Clearly this is a girl who likes to sing and write and she alsoplays her guitar as well. you want an anoying voice then the highlight of that was tha barnes family ! now there is a wholelotsof nazally screaming ! karise is simply a cut above anyone I have ever heard in the Australian music industry and am I am positiveby comments Ive read many would agree
      this girl is for real

  • Angus wouldn’t know music if it dripped blood on him. More sales would be generated if itunes and other online retailers built sites that actually facilitate sales of songs and albums, instead of spruiking ringtones, updates and other bubblegum kid crap. I tried to purchase all Karise Eden songs and found no actual go-to-cart link or icon, so three hours later I am still without the music. Three sites and… nothing. On-line music purchases are a nightmare for busy people, which are precisely the kind of people who would recognise all-time greatest Australian singers like Karise, whereas kids forget as the tinsel of The Voice ceases to fall. I am going to build an on-line music promotion and sales site to enable serious purcahsers to access real talent. Unlike itunes twats, I know music and marketing; and I know that the secret to sales is don’t make the product hard to buy. Tony Ryan, Australia.

    • So let’s review. iTunes doesn’t sell through a site (but is the biggest digital music outlet Australia), and I didn’t say anything about the quality of the music in question one way or the other (the post is about sales). If you haven’t worked out how to buy music online through either iTunes or BigPond or any of the other major providers, I don’t see how you expect to do better setting up your own site. But good luck!

  • 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).

    Who sings, ‘You Don’t Want me’?

  • The voice may not sell music but Karise Eden’s certainly does. With four weeks at no 1 Karise’ s Album My Journey has held it’s own without the hype of the Voice on TV. It appears that Karise has won again with the Australian Public!

    • I am impressed that four weeks in the album is still selling very well. But the observations about singles sales remain true. Will be interesting to see what happens with the other contestant albums over the same length of time.

  • @HarryK – Seems you underestimated the public take on what they want to listen to as opposed to someone who is “hot” but nothing out of the ordinary. Karise not only still #1 after 5 weeks on Aria album charts but selling out concerts with new dates and venues having to be added – while Sarah De Bono charted at 7 and now down to 20 on week 2!! There is a certain demographic who are tired of the same old…..etc and are drawn to Karises voice – it’s unique and powerful without all the electronic enhancements, back to basics and the fact that she has her own personal style and doesn’t feel the need to be a clone is very refreshing.You may be of an age that can’t comprehend this but quality will out. Try to chill’ll live longer. Angus – you need to be more circumspect with your headers because although we get your observations were re single sales, when first read on Google it makes you sound a bit premature in your assertions.

    • Got to agree with Meg, HarryK. Karise has a voice that is unique, powerful and mature, her voice and music is 60’s and 70’s, and may I add she sounds better than Janis Joplin. She can sing there is no doubting it, I put her up with the likes of Adele, Rebecca Ferguson, she will go on to do very well for herself and for her fans.

  • She”s potentially one of the greatest female voices.
    more range then adele.she carves up anyone.Icant believe major record companies arent
    kicking here door down.
    I like the old music from back in the day and i think she has the best voice,if she turns out to be a good songwriter and has good management lookout NEW WORLD ORDER.

  • What? Unique voice? No. Guy Sebastian , popular and can sing? No. Australia has Talent but you wont find it on a reality tv show, real talent doesn’t need crap commercial tv stations that are cheaply made, and talent-less hosts.
    Play in the real world from the bottom, and earn some respect from real people.

  • I know Karise reasonbly well, and she is a lovely person. I also gotta say, im extremely critical of vocalist being in the industry quite a while, n u should hear Karise up front in person…she is amazing..extremely heart felt..thats all

  • Awsome voice. *Hallelujah* gave me shivers. To bad she signed at Universal. I just say one thing about major labels and take your time to realise what I just wrote. Exclusive Artist Contracts have WORSE conditions then SLAVE contracts from the 17th centuary. Its a FACT!

  • The music industry is totally changing. Many artists are now using fan based funding to produce their albums. Amanda Palmer/ The Dresden Dolls recently raised over a million dollars on kickstarter. Eskimo Joe have just quit their label and are fan based funding on pozible to produce their new album. The other thing that Amanda does is offer her music to you for free or by donation and she finds most people will pay for downloads even if it is only a dollar. Either way it puts food on the table and cuts out major music labels having control of you and your music. Because I do wonder how much Karise actually made out of the sales of her albums?

  • well well well… Karise Who and well before the Voice 2!! I’m a poet and I know it. I’m also right regarding everything I said above.. happy to be proven wrong… with facts please!!! Not your individual opinion.

  • Walking through Coles late one night and this annoying nasally voice was coming from an aisle, singing some song.. low and behold it was Karise, working night shift stacking shelves… yeah Australia realllllllly ‘loves’ her!!! L… O…. L….

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