by Hannah B
What a shame for Jonathan and Charlotte that they didn’t win Britain’s Got Talent, as everyone was predicting.
Had they won they would now have £500,000 in the bank which would have put them in a much stronger position for negotiating a contract (or pursuing their singing without one). This prize money is arguably a lot more significant than the extra kudos of being ‘Winner of BGT 2012′. In terms of media exposure – and any career prospects resulting from it – the difference between coming first or second in BGT is negligible.
But they didn’t win (which came as a shock to many). They came in second. To a dog. No offence to the wonderful Ashleigh and Pudsey who did make the most adorable double act in Britain, but not the most talented.
Because Jonathan and Charlotte only came second (much to everyone’s surprise) it means they now don’t have that half a million in the bank. What they are left with at the end of this competition is, I assume, a bunch of expensive rail fares, dry cleaning and other costs, a feeling of exhaustion and all that media exposure which they’ll obviously be keen to capitalise on before people start to forget about them.
That prize money (had they in fact won it, as most of us were expecting) would have payed for their expenses so far and paid for a nice holiday break for them to indulge in some much deserved R&R and the chance to weigh up their options. It would also have given them a rather luxurious springboard of funds from which to launch their next move, on their own terms and in their own time. It could have payed for independent expert advice and/or management from people in the music industry ie it could have paid for people to work for them.
Half a million would even have allowed them to set up a professional website and self fund the recording of a single, allowing them to release their first single as a download. This DIY approach would ensure that all earnings would go straight to them – and no one else – thank you very much. With such massive exposure already achieved thanks to the TV show, a self released single would be sure to rake in a few million quid profit.
And they would still be left free agents (not contractually bound) at the end of it (and now millionaires, too!)…. ready to move on to the next stage in their career. If they wanted to negotiate a some kind of record deal at this stage they would be in an even stronger position.
In the old model before the internet, digital downloads and BGT format talent shows existed, an aspiring artist would typically sign to a label so that the label could then pay for the tours, recording sessions and the media exposure needed to become successful. That success would then create revenue which would then be used to pay back the label’s initial investment in the artist. Anything left over after all costs were accounted for went to the artist (often this was not very much at all).
By reaching the final of BGT Jonathan and Charlotte have already been given a colossal amount of exposure and built up a fan base of millions (imagine how much it would normally cost to buy that kind of exposure and build such a fan base). Because of this there’s not a lot more that a label can offer them in that department.
Likewise, the internet allows for virtually free distribution and no manufacturing costs if you choose to release as a digital download. All they really need now to capitalise on their current ‘celebrity status’ (and considerable talent of course) is a bit of start up cash to cover the costs of a decent website and studio recording. But unfortunately, by only making it to second place instead of first (a surprise result for many of us) they are left without those oh-so-helpful funds.
As a result Jonathan and Charlotte might feel their only option is to sign whatever contract is put in front of them. And if they do they will still probably make some money out of it. As will the person who signs them.
Edited to add: After doing some more research it would appear that all semi finalists are required to sign to Simon Cowell’s SyCo Entertainment for ten years anyway, thus having control over their own careers is out of the question for all BGT’s finalists anyway – with or without any money in the bank. If any readers know more about these contractual arrangements please do leave a comment.