Will.i.am: The Voice won't make you a star

By: BBC
Will.i.am The Voice
The Voice UK team
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THE Voice returns to UK television this weekend, but after seven series on British TV it has yet to produce a successful winner. That's not to say it hasn't been popular - ratings for The Voice rivalled X Factor's in 2018.

But judge Will.i.am says stars are more likely to be made on social media than on reality TV.

"Look at The Voice as Glastonbury. Everyone gets the chance to be on the UK's biggest stage," he tells Newsbeat.

"If you look at it from that perspective it's awesome.

"If you're looking at it from the perspective that it's going to turn you into a star - Instagram is.

"That has a better chance of turning you into a star than a reality show."

'The feed turned the world inside out'

Will says Instagram - "the feed" as he terms it - is what every TV show, record company or streaming service is trying to compete with in 2019.

"That's what's turned the world upside down, inside out," he says.

"It's not this show versus that show, BBC versus ITV, reality show versus the record companies.

"The feed. That is what we're all dealing with. How do you handle this feed?"

The Voice UK offers its winner a record deal with a major UK label - with singers such as Ruti Olajugbagbe, Mo Adeniran and Kevin Simms among previous champions of the talent show.

But making it in the music business is a very different proposition now than it was when The Voice first aired.

Earlier this week, figures revealed that CD sales had fallen by 32 million in 2018 and that only one new artist - Anne Marie - had sold more than 100,000 copies of a debut album.

And the UK's largest physical retailer, HMV, recently went into administration - with many pointing to streaming as one of the factors to blame for its decline.

"When my first album came out in 2010, I went into HMV on a day off and bought it," says Olly Murs, who also returns to judge the new series of The Voice.

"A lot of artists now coming through won't have the luxury of doing that.

"It is a different world. I'm trying to adapt to it like everyone else."

But don't worry, it's not all bad news

But while TV talent shows and the music industry may have lost some of their sparkle, these changes do offer opportunities for musicians to launch a career on their own terms.

"You can get your music out there more, more people hear you than when I started," says Tom Jones, who started his career more than 50 years ago.

"When I started in the 60s, you had to get a record contract before you went on television, before anybody heard you.

"Now, you can be heard and seen before you get the record contract and there's other ways now of getting music to the public."

While modern methods make it easy to get exposure, Will.i.am admits a high profile doesn't almost equate to high sales.

"It's actually really easy to break into music. It's just hard to make money," he says - admitting that this is why he returns to The Voice to coach aspiring artists.

"There's a bunch of knowledge, perspective and experience that I have that I want to share with the kids on my team.

"I want to share knowledge on how to progress regardless of naysayers, how many doors are closed and slammed in their face.

"I have a lot of knowledge to give to folks."