This week, American Idol ends its epic 15 year run. Whether or not you watched, there’s no denying the impact Idol contestants have had on the musical landscape. They’ve won CMT Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, BET Awards, etc. with at least one Idol alum winning a Grammy every year since 2006. They’ve also sold millions of records and performed in front of countless fans.
While it may feel as if we’ve been overrun with former Idols, there are probably less than a dozen who you would recognize. Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and Chris Daughtry come to mind. It’s this small group who have won most of the awards and sold most of the albums. Besides being incredibility talented, what did these individuals do that was so different?
With this being the last season, many past contestants have taken advantage of their connection to the show through guest appearances, providing interview commentary, and by releasing their latest album within the last few weeks. Not a bad marketing campaign, but it is certainly not enough to maintain a career…especially since Idol will soon be off the air.
[American Idol is] not a career. You have to get out there after the show and try to find your way — and make the best music you can.—Scotty McCreery, season 10 winner
Whether you are an American Idol or striving to be a leadership idol, it is ill-advised to become overly reliant on any one talent, communication platform, or competency. The key is diversification. Master a skill and move to the next. For each initiative, modify the ways you deliver your message. And avoid becoming dependent on one proficiency.
I think you just really have to work and really kind of reinvent yourself.—Taylor Hicks, season 5 winner
Through a constant mindset of reinvention, you retain the adaptability necessary to prepare yourself for the next challenge. It’s the only way to grow from previous experiences. Plus, as good as it may feel to find success in a particular area, it never feels good to be know as someone who use to be an idol.