By Arnold Asamaoh-Baidoo
NEWS that the once most popular music talent reality show in Ghana, Mentor, produced and telecast by TV3 is coming back, has been greeted with excitement by a large section of the public.
TV3’s Mentor, which took inspiration from the extremely popular American Idol, was an instant hit when it debuted in 2006 and it continued for the next seven years until the last edition in 2013.
It’s been six years since it went off air and the nostalgia that comes with the mention of Mentor is obviously getting people excited over its comeback. The auditions, the selection of contestants, regional theme songs and the weekly live shows, all made TV3 Mentor the viewers’ favorite, especially for the first four editions.
As television content, the show was successful, but as a project that sought to unearth music talent, give them exposure and establish them in the mainstream music business – Mentor faulted, in many ways.
Disappointment from winners
Mentor produced seven winners in seven editions in seven years. In 2019, none of the seven winners is relevant in music. Some never got any head start, others tried but failed and those who attained some little leverage off the show, have sunk into oblivion.
Till date, respective winners of the show have not paid any glowing tribute to the show, instead, some of them have accused the organizers of reneging on promises made to them and not offering them any form of support in their music careers.
In an article published by Graphic Showbiz in 2013, some winners bemoaned the treatment meted out to them by the organizers. Lee Stone, winner of Mentor 6 told the paper that after his win, he followed up on TV3’s promise of giving him a recording deal for over six months, all to no avail.
He stated; “If it’s the record deal you want, please do not bother your head but if it’s something else, then you may participate. It was painful to anticipate something and you end up being disappointed.”
Season 4 winner, Mike, now Kesse, also had issues with TV3, to the extent that his mother had to go public to complain that the organizers had left her son to his fate after making so many promises to him.
Lemuel, winner of Season 5 also told Graphic Showbiz that after the show, the producer, Gilbert Allotey, recommended Appeitus as the best person for him to work with but that did not work out and all attempts to get the attention of the organizers to help fell on deaf ears.
He also had this to say; “I will not advice anybody whose aim is to get the ultimate, which is the recording deal or contract, to join the show because that is unlikely to happen.”
Season 7 winner and the only female to ever win the competition, Akos, had similar grievances against the organizers. In an interview on Pluzz 89.9 FM in 2015, she said that TV3 had not treated her well. “Part of my prize was a recording deal but they have done nothing to support me,” she revealed.
Prince Tuffour, the first ever winner of the show, spoke of TV3 defaulting in most of its promises to him. In 2016, he spoke to Adom FM, where he spoke bitterly about how the organizers failed to fulfill its promise of taking him to the UK, getting some airtime from MTN, then Areeba, and their lack of backing for his music career.
Lack of support
It is evident in all music talent reality shows across the world that not every contestant gets to win the ultimate, regardless of how good they were/are. In many cases, finalists or contestants from such shows have become bigger than the eventual winners.
In view of this, it has become normal for the organizers to offer support to talented contestants after the show – but that was not realized on TV3 Mentor.
Speaking to broadcast journalist, Abeiku Santana, a couple of years ago, contestants from Mentor 1 including Andy, Mavis and Okurasini Samuel narrated how the organizers failed to keep to the terms of conditions in the contract they signed which stated that, the finalists will get a manager and some hype or promotion of singles/albums they put out.
Okurasini Samuel complained of how strange it was to pay money for his music to be broadcast on the station. He added that he had hoped to get a massive push from from TV3 but they left him and his fellow contestants to their fate in the already tough music industry.
Singer, eShun, who participated in Mentor 5, also expressed disappointment in the management of TV3 for neglecting contestants after the shows.
Speaking on Hitz FM in 2016, she explained that after the show, TV3 Management left contestants “to their fate”. She said they (TV3) do not help build the final product of the competition though in the contract they signed with the finalists, it is stated that they (TV3) will support them when they need help by way of promotion on their network for a period of three months.
“They just leave you to your fate, they don’t check up on you, and when you reach out, they don’t help you,” she said.
Things must change
The concept of music talent reality shows go beyond just placing content on television. The dynamics are to unearth talent via the auditions, give them some training in order to polish them for television via the weekly competitions and essentially, to ensure that the winners and some of the brilliant contestants get good placement in the music industry.
Over the years, it seemed TV3 was only interested in building content for television and amassing sponsorship for the show but was not really interested in the careers of winners and contestants.
After one edition ended, all hands get on deck to prep the next one. What happened to the winner after the show was just up to that winner.
The first ever music talent reality shows in the world, UK’s Pop Idol and American Idol had the fundamentals and dynamics right. The originators of these shows, Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller envisaged more than just a project for television as they created record labels attached to these shows that took care of the recording, production, marketing and promotion of the works of respective winners and talented contestants for these shows.
They introduced these talents onto mainstream and also provided stables for them to aid them maneuver the harsh realities of the music business.
For such shows that do not have labels to handle the winners and contestants, it is imperative that the organizers link up with effective record labels that would see to the careers of these guys.
When winners are handed over to record labels, it is the responsibility of the organizers to have an oversight over the progress and welfare of the talent, to ensure that the winners get good grounding in the industry, even before plans are hatched for the next edition.
TV3 Mentor created more problems for the industry than helping it. It unearthed a lot of talent in the course of seven years, gave them popularity and a sense of conviction.
After the event, many of these guys, without any form of support from the industry and the organizers, struggled to keep up. They were popular but were back to wherever they started from.
Some were under pressure to cope with their popularity, so they had to engage in all manner of stuff to at least, have a lifestyle that matched their status.
It is good that the show is coming back but under the aegis of Media General, things ought to change for the better.