...unless you know how to leverage it. I got a few questions this past week about my take on singing contest shows (from Request a Topic form below). I touched on it in You Should Try Out For American Idol, but I'm going to go a bit deeper.
+You Should Try Out For American Idol

Let me start off by saying I have friends who have been on The Voice and American Idol and this isn't meant to chastise them or their decision. I learned from their experiences. So I should start off by thanking them...er...thank you!

The Contract
Aside from the hipster critique of "don't sell out to the man," there are many reasons why this probably isn't the best move for your long term career. For one, I hear (have not seen) the American Idol contract is one of the worst label contracts in the history of label contracts. And why wouldn't it be? Contestants have 0 clout or negotiating power. You walk in on day 1 with literally hundreds of thousands of other hopefuls and they get you to sign an agreement (before you even walk into the room with the judges) that locks you into their terms regardless if you get past the judges or win the show. Signing away rights without having your lawyer present is always a big no no. Artists typically spend thousands on a lawyer to negotiate a record contract.

Fake Success
Most artists who go on these shows have 0 business sense and have no idea what to do with themselves. Some on The Voice, however, ARE professional musicians who are looking for more exposure. That's great, BUT, and this is a big Kardashian but, I've seen too many contestants get caught up (and comfortable) in the corporate "do everything for me" system that when they get booted (no matter how they placed) they don't know how to drive their career by themselves. They believe they are now "stars" and they hand off all of the decision making, responsibilities and power to those who are only on their team because it's still the honeymoon period after the show has finished. Nearly every former contestant eventually gets dropped by everyone on his team, loses her record deal, and can't get 100 people out to a club in his hometown.

There are a very few success stories from these TV shows. The success stories are those who took their career in their own hands and knew that this show was not the end, but the beginning (or a footnote). Your career isn't made by winning (or placing - or GETTING ON) the show. It is just jump started. But once it's running, you still have to drive it!

If you really don't want to work your career from the ground up (like I advise all over this site) and believe that once you have 45,000 Twitter followers (the amount the 3rd place finisher of last season of The Voice currently has) you will finally be able to muster up the drive and inspiration to START your career for real, then I say good luck (with an extremely skeptical raised eye brow).

No offense, but those who don't have the drive to push a music career when they are struggling DEFINITELY won't have the drive when they get a taste of success.

The Show Is Meant For Ratings - Not Your Career
Above all, these contest TV shows are just that: TV shows. This is not a true audition for a record contract. The purpose of these shows is to garner ratings. They will manipulate the contestants (and the rules) to create the best possible show. You are completely at the mercy of the producers. They could make you out to be someone you aren't and even if you make it to the top 10 and have millions of eyeballs on you each week, you may get kicked off the show with a bad taste in millions of peoples' mouths because of how they depicted you.

Try out for the show only if you've already put in the time in the real world of music and understand how the business actually works, so when the Finalists Tour finishes, you can tap back into that drive and focus to leverage the exposure and begin to truly build your career.
+You Should Try Out For American Idol