Being Empowered Does Not Mean Being an “Idol”


In late May 2012, Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Georgia became the 5th consecutive “white guy with guitar” to win American Idol, a TV program whose dominance and influence have both been losing ground in the last few years.

Earlier in May, Shirley Manson, veteran lead singer of the band Garbage, who recently released an album and went on tour after a rather long hiatus, told London’s music-oriented NME tabloid about how women are disempowered in music, saying that they are “not being given a lot of chances” and that she has always favored women “who are in disagreement with the mainstream.”

When women, with or without guitars, have not been the big winners on a long-established TV show like Idol, one is left to wonder whether taking that long trip to any of a number of cities where Idol’s cattle-call auditions are held every summer is worth it.  Consider that auditioning for a show like Idol generally means singing other people’s songs, rather than being creative and original.  And if you win and get that big recording contract, that wouldn’t guarantee you enough room to be creative and original.

Being original means taking chances and disagreeing with the mainstream.  And that, in turn, means being empowered.  It’s as simple as singing the songs you write; recording, distributing and selling them without having to worry about the middleman major label or “recoupable expenses”; and making sure you own the copyrights to those master recordings as well as the writing and publishing rights.

And just as importantly, empowering is also as simple as socially networking with fans, both online and in person, particularly when you play live.

Given the advantages to being empowered over being an Idol, do you think the latter still matters? [“Phillip Phillips named fifth consecutive guy-with-guitar ‘American Idol’ winner”–Washington Post May 24, 2012] [website for the band Garbage] [“Garbage’s Shirley Manson: ‘Women Are Disempowered in Music’ “–NME May 10, 2012] – Photo credit.


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