Tuesday, October 30, 2007


There is a whole slew of “talent” contests on Armenian television these days and most of them are based on how many votes people cast via Short Message Service (SMS) text messages. Of course to make matters worse, there is no limit on how many votes you can cast since each message received, someone or some entity tied to the contest receives revenue from. This results in too many cases of the non-talented contestant with lots of friends or money, buying their way into first place over the real talents who deserve to win. The end result is we have a bunch of untalented persons flooding the television and radio airwaves, setting the standard for music that our children will grow up hearing and thinking is good, when in fact is crap.

Yesterday’s “International Star” music talent contest was very disappointing for me, not so much because our music guru Nick was eliminated, but because it finally became clear to me that the word “talent” in Armenia has little to no meaning. This I’m not say holds true only for the arts, but almost every area of life here, especially politics and government.

Tata Productions/Armenia TV’s “International Star” music talent contest has not at all been about making a “star” out of talented people if you ask me, but as I stated above, about how many of your friends, family and business associates you can get to buy you into stardom, while the real talents are left frustrated, demoralized and wondering how they were suckered into participating in a contest that was not a contest about talent, but a contest of how one can manipulate the system to feel they are talented, while the real talents we have in Armenia waste their time and talents trying to get ahead, not understanding that it’s not about talent, but about being the highest bidder to win.

What makes “International Star” offensive for me is that Armenian TV, a station that has financial support by a Diaspora Armenia, supports knowingly or unknowingly such an unfair contest that is does not promote culture, but lowers the standards of the arts so that when Armenians compete in the international arena, we are left not leading, but standing on the sidelines wondering why we lost?

In my book, in a real talent contest, the contestants are judged by a jury of professional artists and not determined by how many votes were purchased. I guarantee you that if you give the materials from “International Star” to music professionals, they will tell you who purchased their way to the top and who are the real talents.

I guess I should not be surprised as to what happened and I warned Nick that it was clear to me early in the competition that his declining contract offers of the organizers and subsequent song assignments to sing songs that didn’t compliment his real talents, would deprive him of votes and was going to get him eliminated, as it did in the end.

The reality is that this competition is not going to hurt Nick from moving forward, since before he entered in this competition, the doors to the international entertainment world were opened for Nick and a very successful music company that produces and sell the type of music that Nick is gifted with were and are waiting to review, consider Nick’s work and hopefully sign him. There are also 3 other major labels I have access to present Nick’s materials to, one of which I’m almost certain will sign him, though I would really like to get him signed to the label that is waiting for Nick’s demo.

I had given Nick’s earlier and what I would call his more primitive works compared to what he has recently produced to a few non-Armenian persons in the music business and only got back positive feedback. Of course, as can be expected, the Armenians in the music business I’ve shared Nick’s materials with were impressed, but negative as to the outcome of his possible signing with a major label, since they have tried and failed. One Armenian producer from L.A. told me before hearing the materials that we can getting signed by a major label will probably not happen, saying this even before he heard any of the materials.

The following is message I got two months ago from an associate of mine I knew from my days when I worked for a recording studio. This person himself is a very talented studio musician and has a gift for spotting real talent:

Nick is amazing!

As a teacher of music, I am extremely impressed and if you're looking for harmonicanalysis, I can give you that too.

Basically, I have lots to say about Nick's music but my opinion doesn't matter. You've got the bull by the horns (a major label) and I hope you and Nick don't blow it.

Over 30,000 garage bands in Los Angeles alone would love to be signed to a record deal with a major and you're closer than 99% of them. GO FOR IT with everything you've got!

Don't hesitate to call my cell phone whenever you're discouraged dealing with the music business since I've experienced all of the bad (dozens of great talented artists who never came close to a deal) and the 1 record business success to my credit (White/Margitza signed to MCA Records in 1987).

I owe you big time, so don't offer me anything and I won't have to worry about "splitting" anything.

If Nick gets signed THEN gets produced (although I think his masters are finished if you want my opinion), the next 3 layers after production: marketing, radio/touring and hopefully [platinum] sales are the toughest.

You both better be in awesome shape to deal with the intense stuff but as you already know, timing is everything. Go for it Ara!

Sincerely yours,

Anyway, we should know in the next month as to who Nick will be signed with and on his way to working in the international world of music.

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