In 2002, 23 million viewers tuned in to watch Kelly Clarkson win the first season of American Idol, which translated to her debut post-show album, Thankful, selling 2.8 million albums to date, more than 2 million of which were sold in the first two years after its release. In 2011, 11.1 million viewers tuned in to watch Javier Colon win The Voice, which translated to his first album, Come Through for You, selling 46,000 copies to date, almost exactly two years later. So is Idol really just a better platform for musicians, or do these stats simply reveal the issue of a changing music industry?
No one can say for sure, but Idol‘s least successful winner, 2010’s Lee DeWyze, sold 146,000 albums, more than tripling Colon’s sales. Even Idol punch line William Hung sold 200,000 albums. And considering The Voice‘s season 2 winner, Jermaine Paul, hasn’t even released a debut album, maybe there is something missing from The Voice formula. Why can’t singers successfully transition from selling cover songs to selling albums of original music?
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