We managed to grab 5 minutes of Darren’s time this week during his hectic press and rehearsal schedule to ask him a quick question about his recent appearance on Australia’s X-Factor:
Recently you were a judge on the Australian X-Factor. How different do you think the music industry is today than when you started out trying to secure a record deal for Savage Garden?
I get asked about reality TV shows and especially X Factor a lot these days. It’s understandable given the prominence of the shows and the coverage they receive in the media. There are a lot of performers who have gone to great lengths to criticise the formats and blame them for the massive shift in the dynamic of the music industry. I am not one of them.
I see X Factor as a foot in the door to young musicians who don’t seem to have the same avenues that I had starting out 20 years ago. Live gigs and sending out demos were the only ways to really get signed when I was starting out. As is common knowledge, there are less and less venues for artists to play live gigs in – and before it crashed and burned, Myspace virtually decimated the demo tape culture. If you don’t exist online, you don’t exist. Beyond that, record labels don’t seem to have true A&R departments anymore with a dedicated team of people scouring for new talented and nurturing a diamond in the rough, which is what I was.
Would I have gone on X Factor if I were starting out today? Absolutely. But I think I would have burnt up in the initial audition process. I was a very shy and very delicate thing growing up. I had the luxury of years in cover bands and developing my confidence on stage before I ever hit the public consciousness. So it is a changed world, yes. Idol and X Factor have produced some amazing pop voices like Kelly Clarkson and Will Young who seem to have done what most contestants sadly never get to do after these shows: they developed a career and a sound of their own and are true artists in their own right. So I think of these shows as the new demo tape really. What I’d love to see – is more focus on artistry – allowing bands, instruments and introducing songwriting and production into the fold.