Clay Aiken – It’s A Revolution

Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken

With his departure from RCA, many people have been speculating about the relationship between Clay Aiken and his record label for the past few years.

The real story behind the break-up will probably never be known, but there certainly has been a lot of speculation and many question the commitment that RCA had towards Clay.

Perhaps the most information we can get about the relationship is to go back to the very beginning.

On October 5, 2003, Josh Tyrangiel wrote an excellent article for Time Magazine that shed a great deal of light on the difficulty that Clay Aiken was facing with RCA.

“Ask the employees at Clay Aiken‘s record label, RCA, if they would listen to Aiken’s debut album, Measure of a Man, by choice, and the response is almost uniform: a lengthy pause followed by laughter.” This first sentence in the excellent expose already lets the reader know that this was not a happy relationship.

Clay’s response to the relationship is just as interesting.  He told Tyrangiel; “There are many people at the record label who are afraid of me.  They don’t understand the reasons that someone as uncool as me is here.  In a way – and this is a horrible word to say, and once I say it you’re going to print it- it’s a revolution.”

Richard Sanders was the executive vice president and general manager of RCA in 2003.  He was the person who decided that regardless of who won on American Idol, RCA was going to sign Aiken.  Sanders made his name by signing Moby.  He would not say whether he was a fan of Clay’s music -“But I’m a disciple of the phenomenon,” he offered.

Tyrangiel’s article goes on to say that many members of the RCA staff are not fans of Aiken’s music and that many have a deep disdain for the Idol industry. “One RCA executive who insisted on anonymity, cited Idol proof that Americans have no taste and described Aiken as Barry Manilow, but with less talent.”

According to Tyrangiel, Clay Aiken had been warned by Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarrini that he might be happy with about 50% of his album.  They told him that there were too many people wrestling for control of the music.

Two statements stood out in this article as the root to the failed relationship.  From a RCA executive; “How the heck do we market this boy? We’re used to marketing Christina Aguilera and Dirrty.  We can’t market clean!”

Then Tyranfiel paraphrased Clay; “he believes that the label is clueless about how to market to an audience he knows instinctively.”

The article ends with a quote from Clay; “Revolution is a strong word. But RCA would never have picked me or Ruben.  Simon Cowell would not have picked us.  America has shown them that they don’t know what they are talking about.”

After reviewing this article, it is not surprising that Clay was not supported correctly.  As a unique entertainer, the label just didn’t know or care enough to give him the support that would have sky-rocked him to the very top.

You can read the entire article by Tyrangiel here: Building a Better Pop Star

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  1. Clay Aiken is not a Barry Manilow clone. He is a unique talent that can sing almost any genre. Any one who has seen him in concert knows that. They also know he has a wicked sense of humor and no two concerts are ever the same.

  2. I remember that article well. It’s really no surprise that RCA didn’t do proper promotion for Clay. I trust Clay and believe he is a very smart man.
    An article that I read today said that his journey is just starting and I believe that. He has a long career ahead and we will be hearing that beautiful voice for years to come.

  3. I’ve been a fan from the very beginning..and I never even heard of this article till I read it yesterday. No, wonder Clay never got the respect he deserved. When your own record company laughs at your music? What an eye-opener. I often wonder where they ever got the idea he was a Barry Manilow wannabe. Don’t get it, probably one of Simon’s comments. Just glad he’s rid of the lot of them. Now, he can shine!!

  4. I can only trust that Clay knows what he’s doing and will completely surprise us with it big time one of these days.

    Just going by his track record… he’s never disappointed.

  5. They can’t market clean? No wonder our young ones have succumbed to dirty music and dirty dancing!!!
    Clay will be fine!

  6. Too bad they didn’t hear the comment Barry Mannilow made (I think it was on the Oprah show) that this is what Clay Aiken would look like in 30 years but Clay was a much better singer. I can’t quote it but it was words to that effect.

    I remember the article about the Vanilla Revolution.

    One definite difference I would say was that Barry Mannilow was never cool and Clay is now officially cool! 🙂

  7. The people at RCA are idiots (!) to have wasted the talent they had with Clay Aiken. He is well shut of them.

    I have no idea what Clay has in store for us, but I’m excitedly waiting to find out.

  8. Can I just say that I hope RCA crashes and burns because I’m tired of them telling me what I want to listen to.

  9. interesting…i’m curious to see how this develops.

    and love the new banner! love those 2 pictures of him 🙂

  10. It will ultimately be their loss because they set free a gem!!!! How sad that they cannot market someone like Clay! Clive’s love of Whitney H. shows the type of behavior they prefer, I guess. Can’t wait to see what Clay has in store next!! I’m sure it will be wonderful since he’s so multi-talented.

  11. The music business is a dirty business. It’s all for management and little for the artist. Clay Aiken is lucky he’s getting away.

  12. I can only say that I am more than happy that Clay is away from RCA…they never did right by him…. I think they thought with the artists from AI…that the first CD will sell…then get rid of the artist, and make room for the next group…. I really think they thought that Clay would still be demand after 6 years…… He’s sold over 6 million units…and virtually no promotion…..I say that is not bad at all.

    Where ever you go Clay..I’m gonna be right there with you..


  13. Thanks for telling it like it is. I love this blog. IMO Clay leaving RCA is a good thing for him and for us.

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