This is a really interesting article about what goes on off the AI set between the contestants....its a fairly long article so I'm only going to post the link!
WILD TIMES OFF SET OF AMERICAN IDOL
SHOW'S ALUMNI SING STORIES OF DEPRAVITY DORM
Interesting graph I saw in a article about the majority of top 5 contestants being from the South:
This is a article from the Los Angeles Times that I came across on another site and there were a couple of quotes from Clive that didn't sit well with me or others on that particular site. I'll post the link because its a rather lengthy article....
THE MUSIC INDUSTRY TITANS
Hands on, hands off
Joplin, Manilow, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson. Clive Davis still rocks the pop world, knowing when to handpick a song -- and when to step aside.
The two quotes I didn't care for:
Is he saying that A.I. contestants are "just" commerce only? I'm not a big fan of Carlos Santana so I don't know that I would classify his music as "art"...he became good commerce when they hooked him up with current "commerce" people like Rob Thomas! :)
From Clive Davis: "I'm well aware that all the success of 'American Idol' puts a taint with some people on my other history, which began with Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and Carlos Santana," the bespectacled Davis says, looking sharp in his nicely tailored slacks and sweater.
"But a discerning person recognizes that when you are running a company, you're dealing with a mixture of commerce and art. The important thing is to know when you are dealing with art and when you are dealing with commerce, and I know that difference."
I agree that you need to have hit songs to get on the radio...but I also believe that if you would allow the artists to sing what they are good at and what the people who voted for them came to know and love rather than what YOU want them to sing, then they might be able to have some hits on the radio.
From Clive Davis:He and his staff haven't turned all the "Idol" favorites into stars, but some have emerged as bestsellers, notably Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
"The mistake people make about 'American Idol' is that they think the show itself is enough to make anyone a bestseller, so there is no creativity involved," Davis, a guest judge on the TV program, says in his deliberate, thorough way. "But the show's exposure is only worth about 350,000 to 500,000 record sales for an artist.
"To go beyond that, you have to have hit songs to get on the radio."
Case in point...Bo Bice. He came to be known as the "Southern rocker" and that's what we loved about him and anticipated his CD to be....but when Clive fooled around with his CD...Southern rock was nowhere near what was recorded. Inevitably that hurt his record sales and possibly his ability to get radio airplay.
I believe Taylor will also fall through the cracks. HOW IN THE WORLD can you release a CD in December...appear all over TV...have him sing a particular song on almost every appearance and by January you STILL don't have a release to send to the radio stations??? And when you finally do decide to release one...its not even the one he's been singing all over the place????!!!! And now he will have to compete with Katharine McPhee's promotion of her CD...so any headstart he might have had has been all for naught. I know and understand that Taylor is a unique individual and is hard to classify in a particular genre of music but I just don't think they have done him justice. I will continue to go see him and buy his CD's but I do feel an opportunity that was there has passed him by.
"American Idol" a cash cow for media giants
Sun Jan 14, 2007 10:03pm ET
NEW YORK (Billboard) - "American Idol" has developed into a formidable cash machine during the last five years, but sorting out who gets what when it comes to cash and control remains a tangled thicket of deals between 19 Entertainment and its various business partners.
As much as two-thirds of the "Idol" brand is owned by 19, started by former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller, but bought in 2005 by CKX Inc., the public company owned by billionaire media investor Robert F.X. Sillerman. Another third belongs to FremantleMedia, a TV production company owned by German media giant Bertelsmann's European broadcasting unit RTL Group. The two companies control "Idol" merchandizing rights around the world.
The top 24 contestants sign a deal that gives 19 the option on recording, management and merchandising rights. Finalists are also contractually obligated to participate in the American Idols tour that follows the show. The contestants jointly retain a single attorney, selected by the show, to represent all of them and negotiate their deal with 19. Artists who are ultimately optioned by 19 sign a three-album deal (terms not known). FremantleMedia also participates in a minority share of the winner's recorded music revenue. As for the management option, Fuller says that, when it's exercised, it's a three-year deal. "Idol" vets Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry and Fantasia are currently managed by Fuller. Other acts have opted to go elsewhere for representation after the option expired.
19 finds a home for the winner and any signed finalists within the Sony BMG system in the United States, and licenses marketing, manufacturing and distribution rights to a Cowell production company called Simco.
Idol Midseason Surprise Possibly Revealed
'Idol' No. 6 coming together
Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Ryan Seacrest come back for more Idol on Tuesday.
By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
Do you want to know a secret? American Idol is likely to put on its first Beatles-themed performance week this season.
Producers are keeping the singing contest's winning format intact going into the sixth season (Fox, Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET/PT), but they hope a few twists will maintain and add interest.
•The possible Beatles-themed week. For the first time, Idol has permission to use parts of the famed songbook of The Beatles, executive producer Ken Warwick says. "We've got the permission" from Sony, which owns the publishing rights, Warwick says. Certain songs are still off limits, but "they said, 'Tell us what songs you want and we will do our best.' "
A couple of Beatles songs have been performed on Idol, he says, but the show has never had access to enough for a themed week.
There are "enough songs certainly to get a decent show out of it, and maybe it will be the first show of the top 12" finalists, says Warwick.
Ideally, the week's mentor would be Paul McCartney or Beatles producer George Martin, Warwick says, but no such plans are in place yet.
•An online competition to write the first song for the next Idol. "It's in the very final stages of being put in place," says Martha Brass, executive vice president of 19 Entertainment, a producer of the show.
Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of Idol producer FremantleMedia North America, says she thinks the contest will happen, but details still need to be worked out. Brass is more assertive: "There's no question about it happening."
The contest, the idea of Idol creator Simon Fuller, would call for a contestant to write and produce a song and then upload it to a website.
A group of experts, including Fuller, would choose a small number of the offerings, perhaps 100 at most, that fans could listen to and vote for online, Brass says.
During the season, Idol would like to hold a special in which former Idol singers would perform 10 or so of the fan favorites, with viewers then voting to pick songs for the two Idol finalists, she says.
•An April special. "When we get down to the final six (singers), we're going to have a big special, with lots of stars. It might be an extra day" during that week, Warwick says.
It would be great to have a Beatles night, but poor Ringo seems to be out of the loop. I realize Paul was a driving force for the group, but to ask the former producer and NOT Ringo is just plain nuts.
Doesn't Michael Jackson actually own Sony's Beatles songbook? I thought that was part of the deal to sign him and partly why Paul and Michael no longer speak.
I think I remember reading that Jacko had to sell part of the Beatles catalog to pay his mountain of legal fees. I seem to remember the same article saying the catalog was worth upwards of a billion.
Originally Posted by roses4me;2205030;
Catch up on five seasons
Catch up on five seasons of America's No. 1 TV Show
January 15, 2007
By Adam Graham The Detroit News
Got plans for the next four months? Cancel 'em.
"American Idol" returns to the airwaves with a two-night, four-hour premiere Tuesday and Wednesday, officially kicking off the Fox juggernaut's sixth season. And over the course of 128 days, "Idol" will be all but unavoidable.
"It's hard not to watch it," says Marc Berman, a senior editor at Mediaweek. "You go to work and people are talking about it. You're on the bus and people are talking about it. You pick up the paper and you're reading about it. It's everywhere."
Last year, Soul Patrol and McPheever — that is, contestants Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee — helped draw an average of 31 million viewers to "Idol," making it television's No. 1 show. And the machine shows no signs of slowing down.
Before the new season kicks off, here's a look back at the highlights and lowlights of the show's first five seasons.
We don't know quite what to expect from this new season — is there any way it can be as good as last year? — but you can bet we'll be camped out in front of our TV every Tuesday and Wednesday, our phone in one hand and a bowl of popcorn in the other.
1. Kelly Clarkson: Small-town charm, spunky attitude, gigantic voice. The Texas waitress and Season One winner was, and is, the ideal "Idol."
2. Jennifer Hudson: She didn't win "Idol" in Season Three, but she might win an Oscar for her scene-stealing performance in "Dreamgirls." Take that, Simon.
3. Carrie Underwood: The Season Four winner took country music by storm, selling 4.6 million copies of her debut album, "Some Hearts."
4. Fantasia Barrino: The sultry-voiced singer and Season Three winner is a true original who comes into her own on her recently released sophomore CD, "Fantasia."
5. Chris Daughtry: The bald-headed rocker who made it to Top 4 in Season Five was "Idol's" first rocker with legitimate chops — with all apologies to Bo Bice, of course.
1. William Hung: The clueless, tone-deaf warbler of Season Three was the last to realize America was laughing at him, not with him.
2. Justin Guarini: The Season One runner-up quickly fell off the face of the planet; we think we last saw him holding a "Will Sing for Food" sign in the Cass Corridor.
3. Corey Clark: After allegedly having an affair with Paula Abdul, the Season Two reject now works in construction. Ouch.
4. Frenchie Davis: Emerged as an early fave in Season Two — until she was booted from the show when producers discovered her porn past. Double ouch.
5. Michael Sandecki, that creepy Clay Aiken wannabe from Season Five: Talk about worshipping false idols. Get a clue, dude.
Top 'Idol' moments:
1. Kelly Clarkson sings "A Moment Like This": The Season One finale remains a series high, as you can see Clarkson's dream come true right before her eyes.
2. Fantasia sings "Summertime": A stirring performance that all but guaranteed her a victory in Season Three.
3. Katharine McPhee sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow": The Season Five runner-up failed to make an impression before belting out this song which, for once, gave her father an actual reason to tear up.
4. Chris Daughtry gets voted off: An absolute shocker, as the fan favorite was booted just as it seemed his path to victory was paved with roses.
5. Ruben beats Clay: The closest finale ever could have gone either way but saw Velvet Teddy Bear Ruben Studdard ultimately emerging victorious over Clay Aiken in Season Two.
'Idol' memories we could do without:
1. Those Ford commercials: Just because they're supposed to be cheesy doesn't make them any less cheesy.
2. "From Justin to Kelly": The movie's embarrassing box office gross — a paltry $4.9 million — leaves it only $595,859,305 shy of "Titanic's" record take.
3. Bad singers, take 250: We get it, a lot of bad singers try out for "American Idol." But must we bare witness to their auditions for three straight weeks?
4. Judge/host in-fighting: Any time Ryan Seacrest quips about Simon Cowell's shirts or Paula Abdul incoherently rambles about Cowell, we cringe.
5. Contestants mimicking singers well outside of their range: Trust us, the only ones who should sing Mariah and Whitney songs are Mariah and Whitney.
Randy Jackson's 5 most overused 'Idol' catchphrases:
Best to worst 'Idol' seasons:
1. Season Five: The drama, the intrigue, the Pickler! Last season was "Idol's" best yet.
2. Season Two: Ruben vs. Clay was the show's best marquee showdown to date.
3. Season One: The show was clearly still finding its legs, as indicated by the presence of Seacrest's second banana, Brian Dunkleman.
4. Season Three: Need we remind you of Jasmine Trias and Diana DeGarmo, Fantasia's company in the final three? Or that the finale featured "surprise guest" Paul Anka? If not for Jennifer Hudson, it would be the worst cast ever, but that honor goes to ...
5. Season Four: The weakest top 10 to date featured Vonzell Solomon, Anthony Federov and Scott Savol, not to mention shameless faux-rocker Constantine Maroulis. Looking back, it's surprising the show even got picked up for a fifth season.
"Idol" veterans face life in the real world
Tue Jan 16, 12:07 AM ET
NEW YORK (Billboard) - "American Idol," which begins its sixth-season premiere Tuesday on Fox, is a phenomenon unlike any other. The contestants who have filed through its ranks in the past five years are forever bonded by their formative experiences on the show.
Billboard asked nine key "Idol" stars to reflect on what the show has meant to their career, their favorite moments and how they've managed the transition from the small screen into the cold, hard world of the music business.
"I think it's all about taking every single opportunity that you have in front of you and just making the best of it," 2006 third-place finisher Chris Daughtry says. "I'm not saying you have to go on a TV show, but you definitely have to put your neck out there, and sometimes you've got to open a lot of doors to go through the right one. You don't know which opportunities are gonna be the ones that seal your fate."
SEASON/FINISH: 2003, second
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard 200: "A Thousand Different Ways," 2006 (No. 2, 489,000); "Merry Christmas With Love," 2004 (No. 4, 1.4 million); "Measure of a Man," 2003 (No. 1, 2.8 million). The Billboard Hot 100: "This Is the Night," No. 1; "Invisible," No. 37; "Solitaire," No. 4.
I'll clear up a misconception people have. When I watched the show last year, I said to myself, "I'd much rather be the second-place winner because the first-place person is tied into the contract and the second-place person can go and shop their own." Well, that's not the case. I signed with RCA -- there was a right of first refusal with RCA so I signed with RCA automatically at the end of the show. But there's definitely not a downside to that at all. I'm happy with that. Every person who's been on the show at some point wants to distance themselves a little bit, but no matter what, I came from there. I'm only here because of that show and so I can't help but be appreciative of that. Any time that they want me to come back, I'll be happy to. (Working with Simon Fuller) has turned into a really great relationship. I mean, he's really exactly what anybody would want in a record label head. We auditioned for the show because it looked like fun. I think every year after that, the fourth and fifth (season) especially, you found people who got into the show because they knew something big was going to come out of it. I kind of liked seeing contestants come up out of obscurity. It's lost a little bit of its innocence and so it's not as much fun for me anymore.
SEASON/FINISH: 2005, second
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard 200: "The Real Thing," 2005 (No. 4, 661,000). The Billboard Hot 100: "Inside Your Heaven," No. 2; "The Real Thing," No. 56.
I'm just a normal cat from Alabama, and I never really had any idea how big "Idol" was. I would get off work and go play gigs. So I wasn't really familiar with the show. I got passed on by three major labels before "Idol," so it definitely helped me. I'd already been chasing the dream for 13 years, making a living at this. That's a blessing in itself. I had a great career selling albums at gigs and out of my car. I wasn't doing too bad. I mean, It took a while to obviously build that career up. I'll always be grateful for "Idol," and I wouldn't really run from it. But obviously I want people to look past that and see what I do, like playing instruments and writing songs. I'm not really a pop guy, I'm more of a Southern rock guy. My favorite "Idol" moment was playing "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Freebird" with Lynyrd Skynyrd. I've gotten to play with them several times since then. You never get used to playing with your idols, people that you grew up listening to and learning from. It's cool to see people like that and say, "OK, cool, I can adjust to this. I'm still the same normal Bo that I've always been. It's just on a different kind of level." It's just a matter of adjusting. I think back to the auditioning process, the first actual one I did in Orlando (Fla.). Everything was so new. If I could only go back and tell myself what I was in store for that night when I was laying there with 17,000 other people crammed in this building.
SEASON/FINISH: 2006, fourth
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard 200: Daughtry, "Daughtry," 2006 (No. 2, 1.1 million). The Billboard Hot 100: "It's Not Over," No. 28.
I didn't know a lot about the music business as a business, so everything we did was really new information--the royalties and how you get paid on an album, how many people it takes to complete your team and all the people it takes to promote your album. It's just amazing to me how many people you don't see behind the scenes that are working so hard for you. They basically have the option to sign you. That's their choice; you're not obligated to anything coming off the show, especially if you don't win. I was just very fortunate that Clive (Davis) wanted to work with me, and I thought 19 Management did a great job with us on the show, so I decided to stay with them. But my arm wasn't twisted to do anything I didn't want to. Everybody's well aware of the possibilities; they don't blindside us with anything. For me, ("Idol") wasn't about necessarily winning as much as it was, in the beginning, to hopefully get more gigs with my band. It definitely took on a life of its own, and I don't regret it at all. It was a fantastic opportunity to get my face out there and use it to show the world what I was able to do. It's all about taking the opportunities that are in front of you and making the best of them and using them to your advantage. I don't think it's cheesy one bit. I'm glad I didn't win simply because I was able to form a band and come out as a band, not just Chris Daughtry. I was never too keen on being a solo pop artist or a solo guy -- if I won, that's what I would've been, and I didn't want that. All I ever wanted to be was part of a successful rock band.
(Daughtry finished third on "American Idol" last year, but that hasn't stopped him from becoming the most successful spawn of the fifth season. As part of the rock band that shares his last name, the artist has been a fixture on The Billboard 200 with his self-titled debut, which has already sold more than 1 million copies. The group just announced a winter U.S. club tour, beginning January 28 in Anaheim, Calif., and its latest single, "It's Not Over," is steadily climbing at a variety of radio formats.)
SEASON/FINISH: 2002, second
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard 200: "
Justin Guarini," 2003 (No. 20, 143,000).
What surprised me most about being part of ("Idol") was the quick education I got in the business, and the fact that I had so very little control. I was under the naive notion that I would have a little more of a say and be a little more of an artist as opposed to a product, but now I've learned how to juggle that. "Idol" for me was the key to the career I've always dreamed of. I've been working steadily for the past five years doing exactly what it is that I love -- entertaining people, not just here but all over the world. I just can't begin to think of how that could've happened without it. My favorite "Idol" moment would have to be the big band night we did. I always loved jazz, and the fact I got to sing with a bunch of great musicians really was an inspiration for a jazz album I released last December. I think the most important thing for me is that people, after five years, still remember who I am and are interested in what I'm doing. There are other people who have come in second, third or fourth in other seasons who have not been able to maintain that kind of visibility, so I'm really thankful for that.
SEASON/FINISH: 2006, first
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard 200, "Taylor Hicks," 2006 (No. 2, 540,000). The Billboard Hot 100: "Do I Make You Proud," No. 1, "Takin' It to the Streets," No. 69.
I saw bits and pieces of (past seasons), like Bo and Ruben. My hometown was big into it. But on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, I was playing restaurants as background music. You know what's so cool about it? Not only does it teach a child about the history of music and what styles certain songs come from, it is really about America. It's not about the A&R rep at a label that goes out and hears a person sing and signs that person to a deal. It is about the single mom in North Dakota that enjoys a particular singer on the show and votes for that singer. It's such a deep, home-grown, American thing. I was an old, gray-headed man in the "Idol" competition. Me as an artist, that stopped for a year, because my writing was not allowed on the show. There were some creative parts of the show from a visual, entertaining aspect. But from a creative, musical aspect, it was very minute. I was able to write all of the endings to the songs I was performing. There were maybe 20 seconds of the songs I sang where I could be creative, musically. There's a lot going on around you. You're becoming well-known. You're gaining notoriety. There are the phone calls from friends that see you on TV and the people who recognize you and want to talk to you when you go out to eat. For me, working so hard to try and catch a break all those years, I really kept my head down and studied my music. I lived and breathed that show and it has done wonders for me.
SEASON/FINISH: 2005, left the show after the final 12 contestants were chosen
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard 200: "Mario Vazquez," 2006 (No. 80, 56,000). The Billboard Hot 100: "Gallery" (No. 35).
Leaving the show -- if you want to call it rebel cred, that's fine. I just feel like I made a business decision for myself. I just felt restricted, and I wanted to do the best I could for me. I wanted to venture into specific producers and there were things I wanted to experiment with which I didn't think (the "Idol" camp) would be into. So I just felt like if I'm gonna succeed, I think this would be the best bet for me to do it. I'm just grateful for the opportunity to be able to move on from "Idol," because there's other acts, unfortunately, that haven't. They're all in their struggle now. What surprised me, I guess, was going into big business and basically realizing that, OK, it's not only about making your dreams come true and being a recording artist -- it's a business. I think you wake up and realize you are a business. That happened on the show for me, and you just have to make the best of your business as you're going. For me that meant going off in my own way. I think anyone involved with "Idol" will always be connected to "Idol" no matter what. It's such a phenomenon. It's just up to the individual to break free from it as much as you can, in a sense of gaining your own independence. I think what's different now is I've definitely developed more as an artist. It's always a hustle, but it's not as much of a hustle as when you are a starving artist trying to get signed by a major label.
SEASON/FINISH: 2004, seventh
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard Hot 100: "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," No. 84.
Before "American Idol," I worked for Disney on their cruise ship line for six months at a time. I narrated and also did all the lead singing for the "Hercules" show and also did "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King." I think I was on the right track for my singing career before "American Idol" as I had a vocal coach and was singing on the Disney cruises. But "Idol" did help speed my career along. I didn't think things could get any bigger or busier than when I was on "Idol," but it has. "American Idol" is part of my history, and I'm proud of it. It's helped me establish myself as a true artist. Now it's up to me to further my career on my own. In addition to working on my album, I'm looking for the next right acting role. I definitely want to pursue both music and acting. My advice to aspiring artists is to just stay true to who you are and never, ever give up. Do your thing and enjoy what you're doing.
(Chicago native Jennifer Hudson kept a low profile after being voted off "Idol," but has roared back into public consciousness of late thanks to her role as an R&B singer in "Dreamgirls." In the film she belts out "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," which has drawn standing ovations from theater audiences. The
New York Film Critics Circle recently named Hudson best supporting actress for her performance, and she received a Golden Globe award in the same category on Monday. Her debut album is due in the fall via Arista.)
SEASON/FINISH: 2004, first
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard 200: "Fantasia," 2006 (No. 19, 217,000); "Free Yourself," 2004 (No. 8, 1.7 million). The Billboard Hot 100: "I Believe," No. 1; "Truth Is," No. 21; "Baby Mama," No. 60; "Free Yourself," No. 41.
I could talk your head off about what surprised me most about the music business after "Idol." There's just a lot of stuff out here to deal with. You have to really be very strong-minded and believe in yourself. There's a lot of hype in this business. You can lose a lot of people you love behind this and even lose yourself. I'm getting wiser and wiser with each year. I don't think I would have made it without "Idol." It's so hard nowadays to get into a record company, to get people to listen to your music. I'm from a small town where (labels) don't scout for talent. "American Idol" is a door-opener even if you don't win -- look at Jennifer Hudson. The one moment I won't forget is when I sang "Summertime." That was the day everything changed for me on the show. I wasn't getting a lot of votes and my past was kind of standing in the way, my being a young mother. I wasn't really crossing over to people. But after singing that song, people were coming up to me saying, "I wasn't into you, but when you did 'Summertime,' I changed my mind." I don't mind still being associated with "American Idol." But I'm not the "Idol" anymore. To some artists and producers, "American Idol" is just a reality TV show, and they don't take you seriously. My main focus now is to improve myself as an artist. For me in 2007, I just want to tour and continue to prove myself.
SEASON/FINISH: 2003, first
CHART HISTORY: The Billboard 200: "Soulful," 2003 (No. 1, 1.8 million); "I Need an Angel," 2004 (No. 20, 467,000); "The Return," 2006 (No. 8, 187,000). The Billboard Hot 100: "Flying Without Wings," No. 2; "Sorry 2004," No. 9; "Change Me," No. 94.
I'd been doing everything I could to try to be in the position I'm in now, but I do credit "American Idol" with putting me in this position. Winning was everything and more. But if I hadn't done "Idol," I still would have been pursuing my music career very diligently. I always wanted to be a professional singer. I was a music education major in college for three and a half years. I'd trained vocally from the age of 12 through high school and college. I did everything to prepare myself. I'm proud of the accomplishments I made with "American Idol" and glad people still associate me with the show. It's nothing to be ashamed of. I feel blessed to even be in such great company and to even call myself a recording artist. To have a third album out is also a huge feat. The way the industry is now, a lot of artists don't get a second album. My favorite moment was when I won, of course. I don't think there could be any other favorite moment than being the last person standing. Outside of that, my other favorite moment was hearing Fantasia sing "Summertime." That was an outstanding performance. Aspiring artists should just continue to dream, stay focused and practice your craft. It's a cliche to say, but practice makes perfect.
Winning American Idol Is No Guarantee
Lauren Kerensky 01.15.07, 12:00 PM ET
Fox's annual populist extravaganza, American Idol, currently in its sixth season, is arguably the most lucrative show on the air, boasting some of the highest advertising and product placement rates on television. (Those beverages the Idol hosts sip all night might be the most expensive Cokes in history.) Fox purportedly pays snarky judge Simon Cowell at least $30 million a year for his presence on the show, which doubtless works out to something like $10,000 per barb.
But the wealth does not trickle down to contestants of the top-rated talent show. In exchange for competing, contestants give show creator Simon Fuller, and his British production outfit, 19 Entertainment, first dibs on signing them to recording contracts, which though famously secretive are widely regarded as the stingiest in the music industry.
Fuller also gets a cut of every CD, endorsement, TV, movie or T-shirt bearing the likeness of his Idol charges. (Fuller’s 19 Entertainment was bought out in 2005 by CKX Inc. (nasdaq: ckxe - news - people ) for $174 million in cash and stock.) While managers traditionally enjoy a 15% or so cut of a performer's contract, 19 Entertainment reportedly takes as much as 50%. ("My deals are the best in the world," Fuller protested to the Associated Press in 2003.)
The American Idols Live Tour, which rounded out its fifth year last summer, grosses an average $400,000 per show--that’s $80 million over five years.
Like all the other contracts associated with Idol, how much the performers are paid for these gigs is top secret. It’s likely not much. Some critics speculate it's on the order of $5,000 a night. (Performers reportedly face $5 million fines for any leaks to the media about their compensation.) But it's especially telling that the first season's winner Kelly Clarkson severed ties with 19 shortly after the release of her 2004 triple platinum album Breakaway. She then refused permission to American Idol for contestants to sing her songs on the show.
Indeed, American Idol may offer a shot at fame, but maintaining it and parlaying it into a lasting lucrative career is another matter entirely. Clarkson has sold some 8.3 million albums in the U.S. and boasts endorsement deals with Ford Motor (nyse: F - news - people ), Proactiv, Vitamin Water and Candie's. With Some Hearts, fourth season champ Carrie Underwood scored the biggest debut of any country artist since SoundScan launched its tracking system in 1990. She is also a pitchman for Hershey (nyse: HSY - news - people ) and Skechers. Idol winners Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino have done well, but not astonishingly so, both selling just over 2 million albums apiece. Neither has any major endorsement deals and no major concert tours.
No wonder New York native Mario Vazquez, a favorite of season four, bailed out after becoming a finalist. A year later--once his existing contract with American Idol lapsed--Vasquez resurfaced with an Arista record deal and a hit single, "Gallery." Though he cited personal reasons for quitting Idol, the unprecedented move immediately sparked talk that Vazquez thought he'd do better as a free agent. Vazquez's lawyer, by the way, is also Clay Aiken's and helped the season two runner-up sever his contract with 19 Entertainment.
Idol reject Jennifer Hudson, who finished sixth on season three, left little to no impression on audiences. Cowell told her that she was "out of [her] depth in this competition." She seemed to have faded into post- Idol oblivion. Then Hudson landed a role in the Dreamworks SKG musical Dreamgirls, intended as a star vehicle for Beyonce. But Hudson stole the show and is generating Oscar buzz for her role as Effie White. Hudson recently signed a reportedly "generous" record contract with J Records and is fielding various endorsement offers.
American Idol has also goosed careers of those who have never even competed on the show. Crooner Daniel Powter shot to fame when his song "Bad Day" became the soundtrack for the farewell montage played for a parting contestant each week. He subsequently sold two million copies of the track, and "Bad Day" became the biggest-selling downloaded song since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking digital downloads in 2003. Other artists whose songs have been featured on the show, like KT Tunstall, Gavin DeGraw and Keith Urban, have also seen a boost in sales.
Even special guests enjoy a surge in profits after making an appearance. Barry Manilow coached the contestants in one season five episode. Soon after, his Greatest Songs of the Fifties album jumped 20 spots to No. 4 on the pop charts.
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