Music News

The X-Factor Trail: How To Succeed When You Lose

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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So this year’s X Factor is over and Ben Haenow has won. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for those who didn’t win this year. I’ll explain…

As someone who relished and deeply desired the prospect of being on a stage from the tender age of 8, I am able to quickly decipher the negative and positive aspects of shows such as: X-Factor, American Idol, The Voice and Rising Star.  I am very well aware of the negative criticism pertaining to these singing/voice contests.

However, today I will be focusing on the benefits to these shows including:

Hands on experience both in the back and front of the house

The ability to learn how to seriously work under immense pressure

Gaining important industry contacts

Finding yourself as an Artist

All Hands On Stage!

Shows like these really afford their contestants a powerful learning tool with regards to gaining live experience quickly.

I find that it really helps the contestants to have coaches/judges who are investing the time in these individuals to succeed.  Not only are the contestants given tips and tutorials pertaining to dancing and proper movement on stage but also, wardrobe suggestions, proper voice coaching which also includes the correct song choice selection for your voice.

All of these factors can seriously impact not only a performance but, result in even more experience that one would be able to fit in their instrument case.


Nerves  – Learning to manage them!

I remember when I had my first secondary school performance in Grade 9; I was totally terrified that I completely missed my cue to enter stage left.  The emotions I felt were  housed in one simple word “mortified,” that being said it is quite easy to see how working under pressure for these contestants my be immensely nerve wracking.

Think about what they have to go through each and every week; first off a new song must be chosen and learned for the purpose of performing on stage.  Yes, time is spent practising but, while they are in a studio space singing their selected piece with very few people present is quite different than heading out on a stage with of all eyes on you, waiting to pounce in judgement of every single mistake that  is made.

That prospect of a missed note or falling too flat or sharp can be indeed detrimental to their position on the show.  A little bit of empathy at this time I believe should be called upon from the public.  In the best of circumstances, regardless of how confident you are as an artist it can be still quite difficult to get on a stage especially if you feel nervous about it. Let me break it down for you in a way you might comprehend.  Bono, one of the worlds MEGA rock stars still vomits before he goes into a performance can you imagine what it would do to someone who is in a contest without those years of experience to comfort yourself?  I believe, shows like this genuinely provide a high level of live experience that could be transferable with regards to where prior participants decide to take their career after said shows.

Network, Network, Network!

Directors, Producers, Stage Hands, Musicians, Promotional Representatives, Lighting, Sound, Make Up Designers, Stylists, Singers these are just a few of those individuals that you will be able to potentially network with once you leave the show.  Even if you do not win doesn’t mean you have not met very valuable professionals that would be able to help you with the next step in your career. Take a moment to ponder, yes, there can only be one winner or there can be many winners with regards to what is taken away from that time on stage. When the journey starts for the contestant they have nothing prior to their audition except their voice, if they play an instrument their vessel at the ready to perform at the drop of a hat however, when they leave it is an entirely different thing.

Self Actualisation – X Factor Life is not for everyone

Now The X Factor doesn’t tick every artist boxes however it can make you realise what kind of artist you really want to be like. I spoke to my dear friend Millie Manders this morning about her X-Factor experience; she was lovely and presented me with a quote that makes so much sense.  I feel this is the perfect example of how the experience allows the artist to have a better sense of self after departing from the show.

My question to Millie was,

“Do you feel that being on X- Factor benefited the manner in which you run your career now and how if it has?”

I received a reply of,

Millie Manders – “No. It was beneficial to understand that side of the industry and why it is not right for me as an artist, but it has not in anyway affected the way I operate.” 

This is the perfect example of how these shows benefit artists to find themselves as an artist. Something that is important to figure out to lead yourself to your goals.


Development as an Artist

Once a specific experience of being on X-Factor is under your belt it opens up so many possibilities regarding  growth, the type of artist you want to be and this forms the structure of how you are going to take what you learned to proper and foster success with a future career within the music industry.

So whichever way you look at it there is a lot of good that comes from these shows, and less of the bad that we all like to preach! We say watch out for Fleur East in a years time once she’d had time to develop and write an album.

She’ll come back with a bang!


This article was written by Rania M M Watts. 


Are you thinking about performing live, but worried that you might need a backing band or a few more band members? On Music Gateway, you can hire or collaborate with other musicians to help you develop as an artist.


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