People Who Auditioned for Televised Talent Shows Share What Happened Backstage.

We all secretly wish we could take the world by storm and win on American Idol, Britain's Got Talent, or Dave's Bedroom Extravaganza. (Okay, that last one is just me singing in front of a full-length mirror.) Unfortunately, not everyone can make it to the TV round. 

Here are some stories from folks who auditioned or worked for these talent shows. The stories come from reddit users, and you can check out more stories from the source at the end of this article.


I worked for America's Got Talent in San Antonio, and one of the people who worked full-time on the staff told me that those who just show up to audition have almost 0 chance of actually making it in front of the judges. There is a preliminary round that is not filmed for TV where thousands of people show up, and pretty much all the ones that make it through to the TV rounds are people that the show reaches out to themselves. It's mostly people they discover on Youtube. People who just show up randomly have like a 1/1,000 chance of even making it into what people viewing at home think of as the "first round."

wehaveatrex3

High school, 7 years ago. There was this guy in my year who everybody liked. We'll call him Tom.

Tom loved to sing. Every memory I have of this guy is singing when we are supposed to be quiet in class or when the teachers was absent for a few minutes. He was a pretty decent singer from what I remember. One day before class started, he announced that he was going to audition for X-factor on Wednesday. Everybody was hyped and we all knew he was going to bootcamp. Thursday he tells us that he audition for a 'pre-jury' and it wasn't recorded. It was with two producers and one music producer/manager. He sang Make You Feel My Love by Adele which I know he can sing amazingly. They told him that that was great and wanted to hear him sing Listen by Beyonce with a little umpfh. Basically over the top. Tom did and he was terrible. He couldn't hit the high notes, was off key sometimes. He was surprised when they said he was great. They said things as: It wasn't good but raw and that is what X-factor is all aboutYou are like a diamond that needs to be polishedYou got that it.

They made a deal with him that they'll let him pass to the real audition on Friday if he did Listen again. Tom agreed. He was very worried and did Adele again in front of the real jury. They cut him off and a different producer pulled Tom to the side. The producer told him that he was supposed to sing Listen. He didn't want to do that song, so they told him that he will get disqualified if he didn't do the song they wanted him to do. He said no and he had to leave. Tom said he knew that they just wanted to humiliate him because while he was waiting for his turn, he met some nice but terrible singers that were told they were great by the producers. Basically everybody gets told they are great and they make these deals or give you 'advice' how to pass the auditions, however they set them up to fail and get laughed at in front of the real jury.

peteo11

There are big differences between countries, also between different shows.

Probably most I can say is common knowledge, but ok.

  • The role of the jury is probably the most fake of the show. Their roles are scripted, their choices are the choices of a group of producers/editors. That's where they have numerous meetings about, and the stage jury is only involved in the final stage.


  • Of course there's a lot of typecasting involved. The show knows they want to end up with the old rocker, the emo kid, the 17yo female-former-youtuber, the gay girl/boy, the handsome boy-next-door, and so on. In the final episodes, of course there needs to be a balance between young-old, man-women, pop-(more)alternative.


  • Licensing the song is always quite interesting. For the biggest part, contestants who passed the auditions can't sing whatever they want. It has to fit the narrative, and for the biggest part they have to choose songs from a list of pre-licensed songs. F.i. songs from The Beatles won't be licensed at all. As far as I know the same goes for Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson songs.

jenana__

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I had a friend a while ago go and audition for one (I think it was America's Got Talent, not sure though), and he was a very, very good singer.

Anyway, he went and auditioned, and went through some stuff, and they told him that, while he was good, but they usually take people that are either absolutely amazing, or absolutely terrible, and he didn't fit into either of those categories.

Slt4Tea

My wife auditioned for American Idol. She said it was just a massive line to get in, and when it's your turn to sing, you have only a few seconds before they shuffle you out. First impressions are absolutely everything.

PhilAwful


A long time ago, when reality TV was still new, I auditioned to be on the second season of American Idol in New York City. I was told at the audition after not sleeping for two days so that I could wait in the line that I had an exceptional voice but that New York was already booked solid so I should travel to one of the smaller auditions and do it all over again, and that they'd be willing to film me for that. I politely turned them down because I had a job and bills and responsibilities so I was never on the show.

Not long after that, I auditioned for a show called Fame! That only lasted for one season and was looking for a triple threat. I was actually on the first three episodes of this show (which I didn't know about, family who saw the show called and yelled at me for not telling them I was on tv!) but I didn't make it very far because the show was completely set up and halfway through the season they brought an actual broadway person into the competition and unsurprisingly, that person won. I don't even watch reality tv anymore because of these experiences.

perfectdenial

Not me but a friend of mine, and I imagine it's common knowledge, but I wasn't certain until I heard it first hand.

My friend was a decent singer, good enough that she earns a living singing. She applied and got turned down from X Factor. Didn't even get through to see the judges you see on TV.

That means when the really bad people are on the show, they are selected because they are bad. For laughs. Feels pretty mean spirited to put people up on a stage to laugh at them. I haven't watched anything like that since then.

mynameisblanked

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I was invited on Britain's Got Talent as the producers had been scouting and heard of my talent.

I am a martial artist and tricker who spent 3 years on the same team as the famous "Jessie Jane Mcparland" or as we called her JJ Golden Dragon, whose big break came from BGT.

The production team got in touch in November 2015 and assigned us a contact on the team "Sophie". We were offered myself and my performance partner the chance to skip two stages (1 to 1 and local audition) and go straight through to the television audition stage. So we arranged it, they asked for the act we would perform on video. I sent it, they said it would work great however to surprise the audience we need to change what we wear to make us look like singers, so band tees and skinny jeans. So we went and bought some (I do not like skinny jeans, they don't work with big quads AT ALL). We re-recorded the performance and sent it in.

Then we were asked to fill in the audition questionnaire and contract. Questions included: What is your current relationship status? What was your upbringing? What's your current relationship with your parents? Have you suffered any losses in family and or friends recently?
Filled in and sent off, our contact on the production team "Sophie" said everything is fine however my performance partner listed his relationship status as in a relationship and this is not acceptable for the stage personas we need, when we are on the show we must announce we are both single to attract the biggest female audience. No problem we can do that.


A month later during mid-December we receive an email telling us our act is no longer good enough, it needs changing or we will not be allowed on the show. This being the middle of December and the audition being January 11th. Reworking the performance is impossible due to my performance partner being out of the country and no gyms being open until the week before.

We explained this to "Sophie" that it would not really be possible to rework the performance as there was not enough time nor was my counterpart in the country, we heard nothing until the day before the audition when we received an email from "Sophie" saying our audition will not go ahead as it is not adequate and we should get back in touch next year. She was very apologetic and explained that the production team higher ups are very unreasonable sometimes and expect the impossible, usually acts are given 6 months to prepare and rework however we were only given 1 month.

So a year goes by and good old "Sophie" gets back in touch and mentions our names are still on the list should we want to apply, now missing only one stage the 1 to 1 audition and going to local audtion instead of skipping both. I politely declined.

I have since found out that a dozen or so of my peers have been approached in the same manner and have had similar experiences. 10/10 not reccomended.

To summarise, what you see on television is often at times planned months in advance by the production team, down to minor details such as individuals reasons for being on the show and even their relationship status.

ninjajack12

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I tried out for the X-Factor US Season 3 when I was in 8th grade. We went the to a hockey stadium where they held the auditions, and before they let us in the stadium, they made us walk around aimlessly and then stand in fences like a herd of cattle while they filmed the overhead shots of all of the people that you see in the auditions. After that, you went inside, they checked you in, and you got a ticket of where to sit. I was on the lower level in like section 13 or something. They called you down, section by section, where you went into another line where the ice would be. I was in the 1st level, and auditioned at dinner time. (Everyone had arrived at 6am for the most part.) I have no idea how long the people in the nosebleeds waited.

After you waited in the line on the ice area, you were put in another line, where you waited for an audition with an individual judge in a 3 sided box with black cloth curtains and pvc piping. It almost looked like a 3 sided shower curtain. In there, they ask you a few basic questions, and then subtly ask if you have a sob story. I sang, and my judge was really nice to me at first, but unfortunately I did not get through. I went to shake her hand after to thank her for her time, and she refused (probably because of a policy, I'm not sure honestly).

If you made it through, they give you a golden ticket and you go through exit 1 for more rounds of auditions. If you do not make it through, they cut your wristband, and send you through exit 2. I spent around 10 hours watching people in these boxes, and there were definitely some boxes where nobody made it through to the next round. It could be rigged, it might just be luck of the draw, but there were absolutely tents where nobody left through exit 1.

KillBill53

My then bf and me attended an audition for Deal or No Deal when it was the height of its popularity. Here's a summarized version how it went.

  • Was in line for 8 hours. Only water was given out so me and bf had to alternate to get fastfood take out to eat while holding our spot in line. It wasn't fun.


  • One of the coordinators will come out every now and then to do interviews or rally up the crowd. Not in my line (there were at least 6 sections) but a another section got the whole TV interview and that shot you would see like in AGT where people are waving at the camera from the audition line, which the coordinator instructs the people how to act.


  • They pick people who are LOUD and outrageous/quirky. There was this guy that was in front of me that was the perfect Deal or no Deal contestant type personality. Lots of " WHOOOOOO-ing" super preppy and the coordinators kept an eye on him the whole time. Also we were told that we would be asked a question "Craziest thing you have done." So you literally got picked on the story you tell and how you tell it.


  • Needless to say, I wasn't picked. My BF nearly got picked- he was competing with Mr. Preppy guy in front of us. In the end Mr. Preppy guy got into the 2nd round of auditions and evals.


  • While in line I saw a few people who I later saw on TV a few months later on AGT. They are serial auditioners- they just audition on everything & everywhere till they get a spot. One lady got a masterful 3X's from the judges from AGT. I saw her a year later at a local county fair...auditioning.

Sweetragnarok

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At the encouragement of numerous friends and family members, I've auditioned for American Idol, X Factor, the Voice twice, and America's got Talent.

There are several rounds prior to even getting on tv where you have to audition for producers of the show. You have to remember, they're in the business of getting ratings, not making pop stars. And it's mostly a cattle call, so you can't be like everybody else if you want to get picked. You have to stand out to get noticed.

MissKay72

A friend of mine got through to the bootcamp stage (I think that's what it was/is called - never watched the show) of X Factor and did pretty well. He was talented and was a little different but for whatever reason one of the TV judges took a dislike to him and this made things a million times more difficult for my friend. Also, behind the scenes and between takes there was a team who worked for the show whose specific job was to make people cry. Literally they would go round and ask horrible questions and put people down to make good TV. Really not a job for nice people.

isthatnormalpooing

I auditioned for American Idol in Portland back in 2011. Stood in line for hours with a friend--HOURS--then sang Modest Mouse's "All Float On" for like 3 hours once filed into the Rose Bowl Stadium while they took take after take. Finally, after 8+ hours of sheer nonsense, they started lining us up. The stage floor was sectioned off into 6(?) areas (that weren't enclosed or anything) and were told to get into groups of 4 to audition for 2 producers per sectioned area. You stand in a row with your group while being auctioned off one group at a time to the next pair of producers waiting. Can confirm it was a vocal meat market.

Once in front of producers, you are asked to step forward and sing 30 seconds of your selected song. Myself and another got moved forward. Same as before but in a different area, sing in small groups of 4 for 30 seconds in front of more bored and stressed producers .

Get to 2nd group of producers, am the last to sing. After finishing, all 4 of us were thanked but they declined to move us forward. As I'm leaving with the other three, motioned by a producer to wait up.

Producer: "Hey, you're an awesome singer, but unfortunately you're not what we're looking for this season, I'm really sorry. But come back next year and audition!"

Me: "Well what are you looking for?"

Producer: "We're looking for someone with no character so America can see them morph into their American Idol. But come back and audition!"

I don't know what I was expecting. Cool experience for the novelty though!

Worth noting as I walked away, someone in a full Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunk costume was serenely walking toward the door for round 3...

brettallanbam

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A friend of a friend is in a semi-professional dance group who have done some decent shows over the years. They were paid to go on a talent show by the show's producers. They didn't even make it to the semi finals, because it wasn't part of the producer's plan for them to get far. It just shows how scripted and fake these talent shows are.

Show: Britain's Got Talent

I tried out for a singing show, and was told I was great but they had put too many blonde girls through. So I was sent home. No big deal, I knew my chances were slim.

ofsonnetsandstartrek

A friend of ours was on one of those shows, and once he got to a certain level, they had him change his email, phone number, everything. He was removed from his normal circles, and we haven't heard a word from him since, besides what we read about him or see on the interwebs. Kind of a bummer, really. We really liked him.

SittingInAnAirport

My wife and I auditioned for the Newlywed game.

They basically prioritized all the attractive people for who would get on the show.

I was also shocked how bad the other couples were at playing the game. My wife had never even seen the show before and we aced the audition practice questions.

I was honored that we were their first choice cause I guess that meant we looked better than the other couples (not a high bar).

We ended up passing on it though cause they had to film it during tax season for my wife and she was working 60 hour weeks and could not take time off.

HouseofKeo

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