As you can probably guess, guys like Simon Cowell don’t personally sit through all of the tens of thousands of auditions that come in for network singing competitions. To get to him, you have to go through people like me.

For several years, I worked on The X Factor in artist development, auditioning thousands of everyday people all over the country and filtering them down to the ones who are actually ready for prime time. To the average viewer, singing competitions like our show or American Idol are pretty straightforward: People show up, they sing, most are terrible but a few are good enough to be on TV, someone wins, and their album bombs just in time for the next season. But the reality is, well, a little more complicated.

‘I Was A Reality TV Judge: 5 Secrets I Shouldn’t Tell You’ by Maxwell Goldcrest