Singer Kelly Clarkson performs during the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on NBC from The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on March 29, 2015.
Kevin Winter—Getty Images for iHeartMedia
By Nolan Feeney
May 11, 2015

Fox announced Monday that the fifteenth season of American Idol will be it last, which may have come as a shock to Kelly Clarkson—since the talent competition’s inaugural winner told TIME earlier this year that the show hadn’t run its course yet.

“Even when people say ratings are coming down, that’s like, what, 20 million to 15 [million]?” Clarkson said in an interview about her new album, Piece by Piece. (Not quite: the current season of the show opened with more than 11.20 million viewers, already 25 percent less than the previous season premiere, and mostly declined from there.) “It’s still millions more than the others! They’re killing all the other shows on the network.”

Idol may have taught America how to vote for its next superstars, but its success also created an entire genre of televised talent competitions that may have sped up its demise. “I do think it’s a lot harder because there’s such a plethora of them,” Clarkson said of Idol‘s competitors, adding that she was proud to have come up through the show. “I don’t think it matters how you got here, it matters if you’re good enough to hang around.”

Read Clarkson’s full answer about American Idol, below, and read the full interview here.

Singing competitions haven’t produced a major star in several years, and ratings for American Idol have been slipping. Have these shows run their course?
No, because more keep coming out. Even when people say ratings are coming down, that’s like, what, 20 million to 15 [million]? It’s still millions more than the others! They’re killing all the other shows on the network. It’s supply and demand, whether it’s American Idol or The Voice or America’s Got Talent or all the other shows. I do think it’s a lot harder because there’s such a plethora of them. People are always asking me, why did you make it? Or Carrie [Underwood], why did she make it? We were early on! There wasn’t a lot of competition. We weren’t competing as much, except for the fact that people hated talent shows, and now they like them! [laughs] They’ll last as long as people keep watching them.

The music industry has changed a lot in the past few years, not even just since the first season of Idol. How can shows better prepare artists for the music business today?
I don’t really think there’s an answer to that question. If people did know, they would bottle it up and sell it! You do have more leverage when trying to navigate your career than a first-time artist normally would have. You have the Carries or the Jennifer Hudsons, you have these people who are successful before you even have your project. That’s key. Justin Bieber came from YouTube, or the Dave Matthews Band, they had a huge underground following before they even had a record deal. Do I think there’s a right or wrong way? No. I love the way I came into the business. People don’t even realize Frank Sinatra got into the business through a competition. I don’t think it matters how you got here, it matters if you’re good enough to hang around.

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