NBC’s “The Voice” debuted on TV screens in 2011, and since then, fans and viewers have decided on 19 total champions. Each winner of the show is promised $100,000 and a record deal with a Universal label, but many of those singers didn’t make it big in the music industry.
Of course, then-Fox, now ABC’s “American Idol” has produced superstars like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, who is now actually a coach on “The Voice”, but winners on each show that become household names or superstars are far and few between.
There are some contestants who do make it big after these reality shows, but more often than not, the deals fall apart or something goes wrong. According to The Huffington Post, “The Voice” is more about making bigger stars out of its coaches than it is about making the American Dream come true for contestants.
A Few Winners of ‘The Voice’ Were Successful
Depending on the general idea of what the word “successful” means in the music industry, some winners of “The Voice” did go on to become successful musicians or songwriters.
Season three winner Cassadee Pope is one of the more successful stories to come out of The Voice. She spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number 37 in June 2013. She was the first winner to make a dent in the Billboard charts and later sold 181,000 copies of her debut album Frame by Frame. She won a CMT award, and she was later nominated for a Grammy. She most recently released an album in February 2019.
Jordan Smith, the season 9 winner, went on to have plenty of singles hit the number one spot on iTunes and was the first artist to have three songs on the Christian charts. He was also the first artist to hold the top two spots on that chart.
Of course, there have been 19 seasons to date, so most of the winners do release music at least right after their win. However, many of the contestants don’t find widespread success.
Why Aren’t the Winners More Successful?
“The Voice” does focus on the singers, but much of the actual success is given to the coaches of each season. The winners are announced, but the coaches are the ones who take the credit for the win.
Shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol” pay their judges and coaches hefty salaries – some report Blake Shelton earned around $13 million a season for his gig on “The Voice” – and they make their judges into household names more than they do for contestants. On “American Idol,” Katy Perry allegedly makes $25 million a season, and Host Ryan Seacrest makes around $10 million per year.
After “The Voice” premiered, Coach Blake Shelton released his first number one album on the Billboard charts. Prior to the show, his albums had peaked at number 34 on the charts. Maroon 5 likewise saw an uptick in streams and sales. Gwen Stefani was able to secure a Las Vegas residency after four years as a judge on the show.
“[The Voice] launched me into the bizarre territory of being, I guess for lack of a better phrase, a household name,” Levine told Apple Music’s Beats 1 in 2019. “So then people’s grandparents know who you are, and then you know, it’s a different thing.”
The point of the show isn’t really to generate superstars anyway, according to Executive Producer Audrey Morrissey. She told Huffington Post the show is really more like a bootcamp and contestants put in their blood, sweat and tears to get to the finale.
After someone wins the show and gets their record deal, “The Voice” becomes more of a hands-off entity.
“Pretty much all the winners are picked up,” Morrissey said. “There is choice amongst the label what they do with them, but we, as a television show, once they won, we’re not necessarily personally involved in their careers. We do everything in our power to prop them up, as we can, but that’s when it flips over to, really, the music business.”