American Idol Paychecks: Does it matter who wins?
The top 3 American Idol contestants are in their hometowns, visiting, singing, and reveling in the moment. But we don’t think it’s too soon to think about who the final winner will be.
Crystal Bowersox has been favored to win from the beginning. The question is can either Lee DeWyze or Casey James knock her off the frontrunner’s seat?
We think Lee DeWyze could be the stronger contender. He has benefitted, too, from Crystal’s popularity because of his strong duet performance with her in last week’s American Idol.
But regardless of who wins the final prize, all three are likely to walk away winners . . . relatively speaking. How’s that?
Celebrity news site TMZ got its hands on an AI contestant contract. Not sure which season it applies to, but it makes for juicy reading nonetheless. Especially in light of the fact that it really makes the top 2 the place to be and still gives perks to all of those who make it to the final 12.
Interested? Take a look:
The Winner’s Take
The winner gets $175K when the recording starts. After delivering the first album, he or she gets another $175K.
For the second album (if it happens—it’s not a given!), he or she gets a sum ranging from $275K to $550K, depending on the degree of success the album experiences.
The third album increases the payday to between $325K and $650K. The fourth, $375K to $750; the fifth, $450K to $900K; and the fifth, $500K to $1 million.
The Runner Up Doesn’t Lose it All
Make it to the final 2, and you don’t leave empty handed. The runner up gets $150K when he or she starts recording and $150K upon delivery of that first album. And the payoff continues, following the same model as for the winner—mind you, with smaller sums each time. Still, as number 2, you get some cash, and a recording contract, too.
The Top 12 Can Still Pay Off
If you are in the top 12, you can still be signed by the label. And you’ll get a cool $100K for signing and $100K when you deliver your first album.
And that’s not all . . . if you are in the top 10, you get to go on tour. Rumors have it that the tour pays $1K per concert. And of course, contestants still get paid an hourly rate for their appearances while the show is running. As spelled out in the contract, “incidentals” are not paid, but we’re pretty sure that AI picks up living expenses while appearing on the show.
The only problem we see here is that for the kind of money AI rakes in, the contestants—even the winner—are getting peanuts. Yes, no one will go hungry, but comparatively speaking, the “talent” are paupers in this deal.
It was first reported last August, for example, that Simon Cowell’s current contract pays him $45 million to be on the show.
And it pays off to be a host, too. Ryan Seacreat’s contract works out to roughly $15 million per season—for this year and another two.
No word on Randy Jackson’s or Kara DiGuardio’s pay, but we can safely guess it’s more than Paula Abdul’s, whose $5 to $8 million paycheck was considered low according to a former AI producer.
C’mon, guys? You can’t afford to pay the winner a fraction of that—even say a cool $1 million for the season? It begs the question: What would AI be without the singers? Nothing.
But there is a deeper work at force here—the undying hope that many unknown yet talented young singers across this nation have. And so, no matter that the final payoff is relatively small compared to that of the “stars” of the show. Hundreds of thousands of wanna-bes will still line up next year, just hoping for a chance. Besides, if you are struggling to make it, $350K for your first album sounds pretty darn good!
And make no mistakes—it’s a pretty safe bet that each of the top three will be getting a deal out of this when the cameras stop rolling.
So regardless of the final outcome, Bowersox, DeWyze, and James have cause to celebrate to break out the champagne—starting now!