Short on star-making, 'The Voice' morphs into industry hit-maker

Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:10am EST
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In May, two months after the release of his song "Blurred Lines," pop singer Robin Thicke performed the soon-to-be megahit on NBC's TV singing contest "The Voice."

That performance with collaborators Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. helped catapult his single 42 spots to No. 12 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart the following week. It also tripled the previous week's downloads to 206,000. The song rose to No. 1 on the chart in June for a 12-week run in the top spot.

Although "The Voice" may not be the most-watched singing contest on television and has yet to launch a star of its own, the show has become one of the music industry's most coveted promotional platforms with its influence far outpacing Fox rivals "American Idol" and "The X Factor," music and TV experts say.

"It continues to be a launching pad and a shot of steroids for certain songs," said Joe Levy, editor of trade magazine Billboard whose annual poll of industry experts published this week showed a big jump in influence for the show.

He points to the recent performance by one of its judges, Christina Aguilera, singing "Say Something" with pop group A Great Big World. It helped the song claim the top spot on Billboard's digital songs chart last week.

"The Voice," which airs twice a week and draws about 12.7 million viewers per episode, ranked as the sixth-best venue for promoting music up from No. 37 in 2012, according to the magazine.

Meanwhile, a live performance on "American Idol," which can still best "The Voice" in attracting viewers, fell to No. 60 from No. 17, and Simon Cowell's "The X Factor" did not make the list of 75.

"The Voice" actually made the list twice. When a contestant performs an artist's song, that type of promotion was good enough for No. 56 on the list.   Continued...

Singer Adam Levine performs with his band Maroon 5 in New York in this file photo taken June 14, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid