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Season 1 "The Voice" winner Javier Colon landed several hits in the iTunes top five during his memorable run on the show, but the "Voice's" powers-that-be certainly didn't come through for him when it came time to promote his post-"Voice" effort, Come Through For You. The album, which was released during last year's holiday shopping season, debuted at an extremely disappointing number 134 on the Billboard chart, with less than 10,000 copies sold in its first week; to date, it has only shifted about 42,000 units. When Javier conducted an interview with Reality Rocks last month, he hinted that he was less than thrilled with his record label, Universal Republic, saying, "Am I happy with how everything has gone down? No. Would I have liked to have changed some things and kind of pushed folks more to do some things? Absolutely. But it is what it is."
So perhaps it is no huge shock to hear that Javier and Universal Republic have now officially parted ways.
In a recent statement released via Buddy TV, Javier was surprisingly and refreshingly frank about his displeasure with how his album was marketed--or, perhaps more specifically, not marketed. "After much thought and deliberation, I have parted ways with my record label," he revealed. "While this may appear to be bad news on the surface, I truly believe that this is exactly the move I need to make in order to continue forward progression in my career. The best thing about winning season one of 'The Voice' was the show introduced me to my fans and allowed them to see and hear who I am as a person and what I do as an artist. The unfortunate part of the situation, however, was the unforeseen bad marriage between the label and I. I went into it with high hopes, as I believe everyone did.
"But when you pour your heart and soul into a new album that you think is really great, and your label who is supposed to support, market and promote your music does neither, it's really hard not to be upset. The truth is, we are all better off going our separate ways. I believe what's meant to be is meant to be and that's just how it goes. I've always believed that and still do. Fortunately, that is now behind me and I am now free to explore a more mutually beneficial relationship. I'm looking forward to staying connected to my fans by touring a lot over the next year which will include singing at The White House's 'A Capitol Fourth Concert' on July 4th, touring with Maroon 5, and touring with Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw this summer."
Obviously, there were other reasons, besides a lack of promotion, for Javier's sluggish sales. It must be taken into account that Javier went the Hot AC route on his album, a musical style that simply isn't all that hip or relevant these days. But there must more to it than that, since runner-up Dia Frampton's much hipper Red, which featured collaborations from Kid Cudi and members of Foster The People and Florence + The Machine, sold almost the same number of copies as Javier's release. Seriously--Javier really did receive precious little promotion, and I suspect many "Voice" viewers weren't even aware that Come Through For You ever came out. Javier (and Dia) deserved better. Maybe "Voice" producers should have spent more time promoting the show's contestants, not just the judges.
And that brings me to a crucial difference between "The Voice" and its obvious rival, "American Idol": Despite all the hoopla and hype surrounding "Idol" panelists Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, the real stars of "Idol" are always the CONTESTANTS. This has actually always been true of "Idol," even when Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul dominated the proceedings. By mostly keeping the focus on the singers, "Idol" often created stars that America fell in love with for the long-term. On "The Voice," however, it has always been about the superstar judges. This of course makes for great television--and it seems pretty obvious that "Voice" execs care more about TV ratings than record sales--but as a result, the only real Billboard hit that ever came out of the show was judge Christina Aguilera's collaboration last year with her "Voice" co-star Adam Levine, on Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger."
While of course nothing in the music business is ever guaranteed, and "Idol" has certainly had its share of sales disappointments, "Idol" does have the support in place, thanks to 19 Entertainment and in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine, to at least give its contestants some sort of fighting chance. "The Voice," on the other hand, is helmed by Mark Burnett Productions, the company behind reality shows like "The Apprentice" and "Survivor"--shows that tend to quickly move on to their next seasons with very little concern for keeping past winners in the public eye. Mark Burnett Productions' other forays into the musical talent-show world were the short-lived "Rock Star" and "Starmaker" franchises--and the one album by Rock Star Supernova stalled on the Billboard chart at number 101, and I have absolutely no idea whatever happened to "P. Diddy's Starmaker" winner Liz Davis. Burnett simply has little experience marketing music, and possibly little interest in doing so.
While I understand NBC and Mark Burnett Productions' priority to create good television, it should be noted that at the heart of all TV talent shows is the fairytale concept that these contests can make aspiring singers' dreams come true. So "The Voice" could be in trouble in the long run. "The Voice" has no established track record for music business success, and now faces a real challenge with Season 2 "Voice" winner Jermaine Paul. If Jermaine also debuts as low as number 134 and sells fewer than 50,000 copies--which is a major possibility--it will be a huge problem for "The Voice's" credibility overall.
The saddest part of this story, however, is not any credibility downgrade that "The Voice" may suffer. I just feel bad for Javier. "The Voice" was supposed to be this struggling veteran singer's much-deserved second chance, after a failed deal with Capitol Records--but considering that his 2003 Capitol debut, Javier, sold about 133,000 copies according to SoundScan, it almost seems like Javier was better off without "The Voice." I wish him (and Jermaine Paul, and Dia Frampton, and anyone else coming out of this show) much luck. They're going to need it.