Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How To Become An American Idol With Constantine Maroulis

Rock of Ages is a new Broadway show that has already garnered five Tony nominations including Best Musical and a nod for Constantine Maroulis as Best Leading Actor in a Musical. If you are not sure why you know that name I will remind you. Constantine Maroulis, was a 2005 finalist on American Idol. He earned a degree at the prestigious Boston Conservatory and then, he says,“I went back to New York, where I am from, and was lucky enough to land a role in the touring company of [the musical] Rent. So I went out on the road with Rent playing the lead role. At the time I also had a band and I was just hustling.”

Constantine was working so hard out on the road that while he knew of American Idol, he had not actually seen the show. It was a former girlfriend who encouraged him to audition. He approached that audition not as if it would be his ticket to instant stardom, but the way he did any other gig a working performer might try out for. “I approached it like it was every other audition,” he says. Viewers don’t see how the stars have struggled: They see the glamorous end result—and they want that. The illusion is that celebrity is an easy, luxurious life where you feel special all the time—and that is just the kind of thing that many emerging adults have grown up believing they need and deserve.

Constantine Maroulis, with an insider’s point of view says that the major benefit to a singer’s career from appearing on American Idol is that a record label might look at a contestant and think, “maybe they didn’t win but they’ve been on TV and millions of people do like them and have been voting for them . . . and wow, it’s a great training program. They are a better performer, they’re seasoned already—what most people go through in 30 years they’ve gone through in 30 days.”

But future success depends on putting in the effort. Maroulis says, “I grew up in the theater so I understand the progression and the hard work involved and am not afraid to do what it takes to work my way up, like from ensemble to leading role when you are a Broadway guy . . . it’s a blue collar mentality. It’s about the job and not the bullshit. Millions of actors are not working and there are plenty of singers who have no record deals.”

When I asked Maroulis if he has any advice for young people who want to become stars, branding is definitely on the top of his list. “Even with the record companies, it’s not about selling just a record,” he says. “It’s about merchandise, ringtones, etc—they supplement lack of record sales with other things. The music industry is not what it used to be. Look at Justin Timberlake. His records sell, but compared to [his former band] ’N Sync, he doesn’t make that same astronomical amount he used to, so he has his clothing line and restaurants.”