This Musician Got An Audition-Free Slot On The Voice. Why He Turned It Down


I first discovered Low Cut Connie at the Echo in East LA last year. I was brought by a manager friend of mine who had been following their career for a few years. I didn’t know what to expect, but when front man Adam Weiner took the stage at his upright piano (that they tour with!) in his iconic white button up, black slacks, white socks and black penny loafers, I knew I was in for something special. Weiner embodied Jerry Lee Lewis’ playing style and energy atop of an indie rock landscape. He put on a balls to the wall performance and left a pint of blood on the stage. A true rock and roll performer. They left such an impact on me that I wrote a review of the show, bought all their merch and sought out the club (a 20 minute Uber off 6th street) in Austin at SXSW this past year  – where they delivered a strong performance yet again.


It’s no surprise that The Voice contacted him to audition for the show. Virtually every working singer/songwriter I know has been asked to audition, privately, for the producers (myself included). Many have turned them down. Some before the audition. Some once they received the offensive contract.

But what happened to Adam Weiner was a bit different. I’ll let him explain it better below, but let this be known to the general public who don’t understand singing contest shows or the music industry in general. Not every working musician wants fleeting fame built on a foundation of TV (not music) lovers. Weiner and Low Cut Connie have a great thing going for them. They create fantastic music (that they own completely), tour consistently and put on one hell of a show. It’s only a matter of time before they get the world wide recognition they deserve. And when that time comes, it will be on their terms. Sure, it takes a bit longer, but it’s worth not being beholden to a television show that gives exactly no shits about the talent they use for ratings. Ask any contestant about the “$100,000 penalty clause” for discussing anything about the show that they aren’t allowed to (like the horrendous contract, or audition process). It’s a TV show. Remember that. NOT a career builder.

DMN: So, just to be clear, you got offered to be a contestant on the Voice without auditioning for the producers? What was their pitch?

Adam Weiner: One of the casting people contacted my booking agent, Stu Walker (The Agency Group), and said they would like me to audition for Seasons 10. I really thought it was a joke at first. I’m not exactly Timberlake Handsome, nor is my voice angelic or particularly acrobatic. I can sing, but Jennifer Hudson, I am not. After some emails back and forth between them, with Stu not showing a huge amount of haste or passion for the idea, she let him know that someone had dropped out of season 9 and that they wanted to fast-track me onto the current season that they were about to start shooting. Stu had her call me. I was on tour with Low Cut Connie, in the parking lot of a Whole Foods in Detroit drinking a smoothie. I spoke to her and she told me that I would not need to audition, that the producers had seen many clips of Low Cut Connie online and they “loved” me and had chosen me for the season. I just needed to get to La La Land in about 12 days time.

“In my opinion, the show does not benefit the careers of working artists, other than the judges themselves. ” – Adam Weiner, Singer/Pianist/Songwriter, Low Cut Connie

DMN: Did they want to add you to the blind audition list (in front of the celebrity judges)?

AW: Had I moved forward with it, I would have been one of the auditioners on the show for the judges. Who knows if I would have been selected for a team or what the machinations behind being team-selected are. Maybe I would have bombed when faced with the pressure of performing for the backs of famous peoples’ heads. But I had passed the actual audition process and would be part of the “cast” with a segment about my backstory, my home town and all my burning dreams and aspirations and frustrations and all the little people back on the farm pulling for me to make it.

DMN: Did you turn down The Voice because you’d have to cancel your gigs? Or are you morally against these kinds of shows?

AW: I am not at all morally against talent shows. I watch them when I run on the treadmill. They make me run faster and try to get my workout over with. I enjoy them. Guilty pleasures. I also love Millionaire Matchmaker when I’m in that frame of mind if that gives you any sort of point of reference. But I don’t actually own a TV at home and I don’t keep up with these shows enough to take a moral stance other than to say that I don’t think they benefit working musicians and artists (other than the judges themselves) and I don’t think they add anything useful or compelling to our culture.

It’s candy and sometimes candy is luscious and dazzling, but that ain’t me. I turned the show down for two reasons: In the small picture I would have had to cancel a lot of gigs and turn my life upside down and I didn’t feel like doing that for this. And in the big picture, because I’ve worked too fuckin hard to wrap my work and career around a sexy dog and pony show that will force me to sign a malfeasant contract that could ruin my career. I do think that The Voice could be absolutely great for someone else wherever they are at in their career or personal journey. But not I.

Victor Fiorillo at Philly Mag pressed Weiner in his interview to explain why he thought it was a good idea to turn down performing in front of 10 million viewers each week. This was his response:

AW: Maybe it’s beneficial to some Joe Schmo from Arkansas who’s got nothing going on, but for us who work our balls off… Ultimately, I feel that I would be adding value to their show. They want to give the show more legitimacy, get some people who already have somewhat of a career going on. That’s of benefit to them. There are a lot of people who would cut off their left testicle to be on that show, because it’s their shot, but not me.

And keep in mind that none of the people who have won that show have had any real career after, and they sign these horrible contracts in terms of what they can record, how they can bill themselves. That’s a mistake I may have made when I was 21, but not now that I’m 35. No sir.

The possibility of me getting the wrong kind of exposure and having to sit with Adam Levine… that’s a real possibility. And funny enough, years ago, someone at a gig told me that I was the fucking ugly Adam Levine.

I think that me, the dude from Low Cut Connie with the voice that I have, the style of music I play, sitting there being forced to do a Selena Gomez song, I don’t know who the hell wants to see that. I weighed it up. I really did. My gut was telling me no, and I went with my gut.

DMN: What does the rest of 2015 look like for Low Cut Connie?

AW: Extremely busy. Lots of shows. We’re headlining at Third Man Records for the Americana Festival. Doing a live session for NPR / Sound Opinions. Playing with our friends in Tune-Yards, doing a session for World Cafe at the Philly Folk Fest and about 50 other shows through the US. I’m organizing the release of Hi Honey (Low Cut Connie’s newest album) in the UK and Europe for November. Hopefully we can get over there next year. That’s everything that comes to mind. I’m broke and busy and I don’t have time to do The Voice. 

Go support Adam and the band at: And see them live.

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake


Top photo is by Seth Hardiman and used with permission.

23 Responses

  1. Thomas

    Fuckin right! I’m tired of these shows anyways. Real talent deserves a CAREER. This show actually inhibits that! Don’t confuse fame for a career. Fame comes and goes. Great music lasts for ever.

  2. Anonymous

    I auditioned for the Voice. I “passed” the producers round. Did a casting interview on camera. Made it to the executive producer round. And only after I “passed” that did they show me the contract – which they tried to get me to sign on the spot without consulting my attorney. Luckily I refused and convinced them to let me take the contract home. They wanted to own my publishing of everything I’d ever released! I’ve released 5 albums so far with decent success (TV spots, a big movie, a commercial placement, college radio, YouTube in the hundreds of thousands of plays, Spotify in the hundreds of thousands of plays). I said “thanks but no thanks.” Good for you Adam! Fuck The Voice.

  3. Bullshit

    ive been on the voice and none of this shit rings true with the show. Especially this anonymous comment about the contract. They give you days… DAYS with the contract and access to your attorney and then some. Lame click Baur. Ari please get it together.

    • Thomas

      and how’s your music career been since The Voice? You’re a star now? Bitching on a comment board? Convincing.

  4. do NOT listen to Ari!

    Ari, you are a fool! Please stop preaching artists to not take money that they deserve and not grow their careers. You’re telling an athlete not to go pro, even though the Raiders just drafted them! Because it’s better to play pick-up games?

    • Thomas

      You do realize you don’t get money for just appearing on the voice. You have to win. And I’d call Adam and his band professional already. They seem to be doing just fine

      • do NOT listen to Ari or Thomas!


        Do you guys hate success and money? This is the biggest stage in the world, I’ll give you a hint it’s called “broadcast TV”. Please Ari, and now Thomas, stop sniffing the indie glue in Echo Park. TV is still HUGE! It can launch a career instead of keeping you in poverty for life.

        But keep writing bullshit stories about BandPage Ari, because yeah that’s where the real money is baby!

        • Anonymous

          It cracks me up that anyone would get mad at Adam for being loyal to his bandmates and trusting the hard work he and Dan have put into making the best live band in America (if you haven’t seen the Connies yet, you’re missing out on an amazing experience). And to get mad at the interviewer who isn’t even expressing an opinion?

          “Do you guys hate success and money?”
          Um, no, but not everyone thinks those are the two most important things in the world. There’s things like integrity, enjoying the work you’re doing, loyalty, a fried lasagna sandwich, the list goes on

          • Proof/Pudding

            “making the best live band in America”

            Right, so ‘the best’ that no one’s heard of them. If you want to succeed you take gambles, you swing the bad HARD. It’s a big strike, or a big home run, or you at least you get on base.

            Welcome to the music business! Go big, or GO HOME and get a boring job and life like everyone else. Wanna play for the Yankees? Ari and Connie play for the MUD HENS.

          • Anonymous

            Best is a measure of quality, and it’s weird how you think it’s measured in number of fans. But you know, you keep doing you at the 1D and Kenny Chesney shows

          • Proof/Pudding

            Wow, you really are that obtuse sipping on the hipster kool-aid! Kenny Chesney, wait I’ve actually HEARD of him! Why is that? It’s not because he has a moustachio and wears a beret and hauls a piano around the country by himself!

            It’s because he’s going for REAL fans, REAL success, and REAL money! And you call that a sell-out! I call it… A CAREER that doesn’t involve a crappy day job!

  5. Me2

    Given the topics covered nf this site, it’s sensible that the comments are focused on career, fame, the contract etc.

    But here you also have an artist saying that it doesn’t feel right. He calls it a ‘dog and pony show’. He doesn’t want to sit with Adam Levine or sing Selena Gomez songs. He’s got his own sound that he worked hard to develop and wants to respect, one that seems to be working for him. These are even stronger reasons not to do it in my book.

    • renon

      I agree.

      I feel that his reasons for not going on the show are valid. Smart move IMO. It would have been short term gains for what? To have 15m of fame and then be labeled into being only a contestant on a show. Unable to have full artistic freedom in the future if he wins.

      Then again, I never watched the show nor do I know of anyone who has won it in the past and what the outcome was. So maybe he is just afraid?

  6. Not sharing my name, sorry

    TV shows don’t build careers over the long haul (songs, smart management do), but I witnessed how this mass exposure can elevate a platform in the short term.

    I shared a bill at a smaller festival bill with an artist on season 8. It was a incredible to see how the elevated exposure create major sales, more attendance, more buzz for this artist.

    Two years ago, I saw this artist played a brewery down the street from my house. Now my grandmother is asking me if I met the Voice artist after I played the smaller stage.

    Will these listeners stick around? Who knows, many probably won’t, but this artist I’m referencing has been at the game even longer than Adam and knew how to tour before the Voice elevated the platform.

    Folks have to make their own decisions. Grinding it out is a drag. Being in one’s thirties might be the time to take a chance at a larger platform.

    Or not. Maybe it ruins the brand.

    But it takes big breaks to build big careers.

    Adam’s positioned well before the Voice approached him. Playing shows with TuneYards? Doing an NPR thing? Has a reputable agent? This is fan-building stuff. I can see why he passed. He made an educated choice.

    But there are countless artists that are talented and failing to reach an audience. I don’t blame them for taking a chance. The Voice doesn’t have a successful track record at building a huge star like a Miranda Lambert, but maybe someone making $150-250 in gigging in their town and then getting a chance to play 500-700 capacity venues after their appearance on the Voice might see this as a good shot…

    Sure, they need to ask, where is season 8 winner of American Idol and what gigs is that artist doing? What size crowds attend those shows? Probably a casino gig, and then 50 folks attending a pick-up date on a weeknight in a college town’s mid to small sized venue. Being a working musician is usually “blue collar work,” no matter how you slice it, as James Taylor warned his son.

    May I get off topic for a moment, DMN readers, and say it sucks to read about a well-connected, hard-working, talented artist being “broke” at the age of 35? I think there is some warnings in that point, too.

    But more importantly, for those reading the DMN article and still wondering if they should audition, here’s the thing to walk away from reading this account: If you are standing in line to audition for a show, you have probably already lost. These shows are curating before the auditions happen. I’ve got one friend who was already approached for the next season. (Turned it down.)

    • Not sharing my name, sorry

      Yikes, all the typos make me cringe. Thanks for not attacking poorly edited, post! That’s what I get for typing a long post and not proofreading during a sleepless night.

  7. Miles D.

    Yawn. Theater rock that doesn’t matter. JLL did this decades ago, who cares?

    Feeling kind of blue.

    • So?

      And this observation is contributing to the topic of discussion how?

      I don’t even know this guy’s music, but I am a Miles Davis fan though.

      Still, I’ve broken up bands before to extricate my professional and creative ties to this kind of bullshit “look at me the grand arbiter” commentary.

      Check the tude, stay on topic or STFU.
      No one gives a rat’s ass what you think.


  8. Musicservices4less

    Ari’s article and all the comments are great. I’ll throw in that there are many ways in the music business and artist careers to be “successful.” Of course, if you define “success” as financial, then MAYBE The Voice is one avenue. If you define success as paying the bills or releasing your music to the public or be able to play out all over the country/world etc. Each artist and business makes their own determination of what success is. In my business with my “clients” every step is a joint decision and ultimately the client/artist has the final word. I don’t see how a person/company would want to do it any other way. There may be disagreements and those may lead to a parting of ways. But in the end I would always want the artist to be able to make the final decision. After all, its their life.

  9. Amyt

    I got called for the Voice too (last year). I said no because I had no confidence whatsoever.

  10. Stevie

    For what it’s worth, the Voice contestants do get paid…amount depends on how many episodes they appear on…and how far they get. The money goes up and is pretty significant per episode for folks who make it far. And it can help you line up some well-paying gigs and opps afterwards…

  11. Pinki Tuscaderro

    I am not all anti-corporate. Afterall, TV talent shows are damn good at getting attention, I would be glad to see the attention go to people who are actual musicians not just self-absorbed radio repeaters. However, there is one thing about these talent shows that I just can’t seem to get ove. Why doesn’t ANYONE ever play a freaking ORIGINAL song!? Are people really that lacking in creativity and why are people so impressed by half-baked imitations? I mean who cares about fame what the heck happened to appreciating art for the sake of art? Honestly, I don’t give a fudge how many notes you can roll in a second, how loud or long you can drag out a tune, or how impressive your vocal range is. I want you to give me something new, unexpected, authentic, honest, some emotional connection to the music that goes beyond the narcississitic I-wanna-be-worshipped-because-it-would-mean-everything-to-me. WHO CARES? Seriously, American idol? Please, I do not care how many millions of people are watching, what celebrities say about your talent, or how worthy your sob story is, if you can’t come up with your music, you are not an American idol, you are just a glorified kareoke queen.

    I wrote a song about my discontent with fame sucking the soul out of the music scene. Its called auto pitch bitch, totally lo-fi tongue-in-cheek track, not meant to be serious, but at least it is ORIGINAL.

    Now that I have ranted, I’d like to end on high note (pun intended). Therefore, may I just say, I always enjoy your articles Ari! Keep on keeping it real, cause you rock!

    • Pinki Tuscaderro

      P.s. Here is my cheesy song, “Auto-pitch Bitch” comes with whine. Lol.


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