Article: “Must Be The Music”

The X Factor has such a towering presence, having become a must- see weekly fixture for 10m people or more, any new music TV talent show will always have to live in the shadow of the ITV1 giant. But the arrival this week of Pepper & Piano into the UK singles chart proves Sky1’s Must Be The Music can provide a point of difference in delivering new artists.

The launch of the show probably provoked a massive yawn from some in the industry, questioning why we need yet another of these programmes. Like it or not, though, this type of format is not going away any time soon and, in its defence, Must Be The Music is at least trying to operate in a different way.

This was proved by Pepper & Piano’s entry into the OCC chart yesterday (Sunday) which, rather than a boringly obvious cover from, say, a Glee cast album or something penned by the usual hit songwriters, was an original composition. In a further twist, unlike with The X Factor and American Idol, performances by Pepper & Piano and all the other acts are instantly downloadable from iTunes and, naturally in this case, Sky Songs. Contestants also get to keep 100% of the profits.

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Must Be The Music stands out, too, by catering for all types of artists and styles, while the make-up of the judging panel is in stark contrast to other programmes in the genre. In Jamie Cullum, Dizzee Rascal and Sharleen Spiteri it has three individuals who are not only artists in their own right but all of whom have a successful track record of writing and creating their own music, which allows them to offer a different insight on judging new artists. However, this is by no means superior to Simon Cowell or Louis Walsh who, though not performers themselves, have years of experience of spotting and nurturing talent.

Given it is on Sky1, so automatically attracting vastly smaller audiences than The X Factor, Must Be The Music will never have the same impact as the Cowell-created phenomenon. But, at a time when breaking new artists to decent sales levels has become a real issue of concern for the business, having another route to uncover the kind of talent that might deliver such numbers has to be a good thing.

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