American Idol Paying Big to its New, Young Stars

May 31st, 2011

Two days before the final American Idol episode of the season, a judge in California approved two draft contracts outlining the recording deal terms for contestants Scotty McCreery, 17, and Lauren Alaina, 16.  Court approval was necessary for both contestants’ agreements this year because for the first time, both final contestants were under the age of 18.

The winner of the season – Scotty McCreery – will receive at least $250k in advances for winning the show and recording his first album as well as an additional $50,000 for granting likeness, merch, and endorsement rights.

Runner-up Lauren Alaina will receive $87,500 for finishing second; the amount will be doubled if Alaina records an album.  Alaina’s draft merchandise agreement pays out $40,000.

These figures beat most teenagers’ summer job wages, but don’t quite reach former Idol contestants’ payouts.   Season Six winner Jordin Sparks’ draft contract guaranteed her an advance of $180,000 after the show and another $180,000 after delivering her first album.   Season Seven runner-up David Archuleta draft contract offered an advance of $155,000 for placing second and double that once he produced an album (he would have made $360k total if he had won the show and recorded an album).

Remember, these advances are only for the first album.  It was not disclosed how many options (future albums) each artist is committed to under the agreement, but each option will bring additional advances.

Personally, I was pretty disappointed with the Idol season this year.  The talent wasn’t very impressive, and the judges were nauseatingly complimentary.   I think it was the judges who ruined it.  With Randy Jackson providing the only rare bits of criticism throughout the season, the contestants did not receive enough constructive feedback to allow them to cultivate their performance skills.  Jennifer Lopez was beautiful and sweet, as the “new Paula,” but Steven Tyler was nonsensical.  Most of the time, I honestly had no idea what he was talking about and found his repeated references to a female contestant’s beauty as winning the night for him to be sexist and demeaning.  If you don’t have the guts to tell a pretty teenager that she just bombed the ballad, you should not be a judge on Idol.  As far as I’m concerned, American Idol’s reign over this country is over.  I’m ready for some Simon Cowell on X Factor or, even better, popular music which I’m not forced fed during three hours of prime time television a week.