‘American Idol’ reality: No guaranteed big bucks for Jessica Sanchez as No. 2


Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez. Photo by John Shearer/AP FILE PHOTO

LOS ANGELES—Coming in second on “American Idol” may still be a path to superstardom, but it no longer offers guaranteed paychecks worthy of the next pop idol or rock star.

Wednesday night’s (Thursday morning in Manila) runner-up, 16-year-old Filipino-Mexican Jessica Sanchez, doesn’t have a definite shot at producing an album and could be paid as little as $30,000 in advances for recording singles, according to the “Idol” contract she and other season 11 contestants signed earlier this year.

The agreement appears to be the first time in “Idol’s” history that producers are not offering the show’s runner-up an album deal that in previous years came with a guaranteed advance of at least $175,000, an Associated Press review of the Fox show’s contracts reveals.

The analysis covers eight of “Idol’s” 11 seasons during which contracts filed for contestants under the age of 18 were available. The contracts were reviewed by judges in accordance with a California law that requires at least 15 percent of a minor entertainer’s earnings be set aside for their benefit once they reach adulthood.

Reduced royalty

The reduced royalty advance covers the period immediately following the show. In addition to recording new music, the series’ winners and finalists are obligated to perform in a concert tour and lend their likeness to a Walt Disney World Resort attraction in Florida.

If Sanchez is given an album deal following the show, she will receive the same $175,000 bonus that Lauren Alaina was paid after placing second in the show’s 10th season. But 19 Recordings Inc., which has the option to handle the albums and recordings of “Idol” contestants for several years after they appear on the show, has replaced a guaranteed album deal for the runner-up with a staggered “Development Period” that requires less music and pays out less in advances.

Sanchez could be paid as little as $30,000 if she is asked to perform four single songs, or $60,000 if she records an “EP” (extended play), a mini-album containing four to 10 songs.

Representatives for 19 Recordings Inc. and “American Idol” producer FremantleMedia declined comment. They also have not disclosed which recording deal would be offered to Sanchez.

No life after ‘Idol’

“It makes sense. You can’t continue to offer the same sorts of rewards and incentives when the program was averaging 25 to 30 million [viewers], and [now] the finale is barely breaking 20 million,” said Northwestern University assistant professor Max Dawson, who teaches a course on reality television. This year’s grand performance night may be record-breaking in terms of viewer votes but the grand finale was the lowest-rated final show for “Idol” in its history.

“These contracts don’t pay off,” he said, contrasting the long list of “Idol” alumni who have been dropped by record labels with those who have thriving careers. “It seems like the successes that people like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have had are the flukes.”

He noted that the recording industry had shifted toward single-song sales in recent years, and even established artists are struggling to sell full albums. “I wouldn’t be surprised, quite frankly, if this is the direction they head with the winners,” Dawson said.

Buyers purchased nearly 1.3 billion single songs last year as opposed to 331 million albums, said Dave Bakula, Nielsen’s senior vice president of analytics for SoundScan. He noted that there had been some successful “Idol” runners-up, but producers appear to be giving themselves more flexibility with how they develop artists in different genres.

Winner takes all

“Idol” winner Phillip Phillips will receive the same $300,000 advance given to last year’s winner, Scotty McCreery, upon completion of his first album, according to the contracts. Finalists who placed third and lower could receive deals to record singles, EPs or full albums, with the lowest advance amounting to $24,000 if they complete their commitment to record up to four single songs.

Higher advances are paid if 19 Recordings agrees to produce more albums, with Phillips eligible to receive up to $800,000 for a six-album deal.

The advances are paid and later deducted from the singer’s song royalties.

“As the music industry is changing, it makes sense for ‘Idol’ to change as well,” Dawson said.

Despite the contract reductions, there are more opportunities for recent “Idol” contestants to earn money than their predecessors. Phillips will be paid $200,000 for his Disney attraction work and Sanchez will rake in $50,000 for her appearances. Both are also set to get a cut of merchandise profits.

Heavyweight agent

No matter what recording deal Sanchez is offered, she already has heavyweight Hollywood representation. In March, a judge approved a deal in which she will be represented by Creative Artists Agency for future television, personal appearance and other employment deals.

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  • Martin

    As if placing second was not enough amidst protests from her fans, she now is being short changed for the money.  Was that the reason why the producer made sure that Phillip won and not Jessica? 

  • Johnlove

    Jessica NEEDS to lose the first place because the prizes are not enough for her to treat her Filipino kababayans to a victory party.

  • akramgolteb

    Depende ngayon sa magiging manager ni Jessica kung yayaman siya o hindi. Lahat ng contrata may loophole, kung magaling ang manager, makikita nila ang loophole sa contract. Ang hindi nakikita ng writer ng article na ito ang mga ilang record producer na inaawitan na si Jessica kahit hindi pa tapos ang AI. Tulad ng isang mentor na producer na partner ni Jimmy Lovine, hindi ko matandaan ang pangalan, ang sabi kay Jimmy, “Can we steal this girl?”, pagkatapos ng mentoring nila.

    Pagkatopos ng season 9 sinuguro ng AI na kahit ang mga runners up hangang 10th place ginapos nila sa contrata dahil nakita nila marami silang nawalang opportunidad kumita sa mga top 100 singles & albums ng mga katulad ni Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson, Daughtry.

    Dahil sa ginawa ng AI ngayon, makikita natin ang pagbagsak sa ratings & viewership ng AI. Kung hindi man kikita si Jessica sa loob ng 1 taon bago matapos ang AI contract, maraming pang taon ang hinaharap ni Jessica para sumikat at kumita ng malaki.

    • Practical

      Sa ngayon, ang kailangan ni Jessica ay makabenta.

      Paano magagamble sa kanya ang mga producers kung wala siyang sales?

      Ang mga runner-ups na kinontrata ng mga producers pagkatapos ng season ay maraming sales sa itunes pagkatapos ng finale kaya nag-gamble ang producers.

      First time na nangyari sa runner-up na wala sa Top 10.  ZERO rin si Jessica kahit sa Top 100.  Nakakaawa tuloy siya.

      Si Philip ay 11 ang nasa Top 100 at siya rin ang number 1.

      Para magkainteres ang mga producers kay Jessica, kailangan niyang makabenta sa itunes habang sikat pa siya.

      Sa sales ngayon dapat patunayan ng mga fans ni Jessica na  worth siyang i-gamble ng mga producers at hindi iyong puro kuwento lang sa youtube, etc.

      Kung ngayon na sikat pa si Jessica ay hindi siya makabenta, paano pa lalakas ang loob ng mga producers?

      • Luther

        Oo, top 1 song ni Philip and top 2 naman sa album category. Si Jessica nasa top 9 ng top album so hindi ZERO si Jessica as what you are claiming…

      • Practical

        O sige isama mo na ang album.

        Top 2 si Philip at si Jessica ay nasa number 10.  Alam mo ba kung ilang milyon ang difference noon?

        Si Philip sinusuportahan ng mga fans niya BOTH in song and album category. 

        Sa song category, ZERO si Jessica sa Top 100. 

        Si Philip, hindi lang siya ang Top 1 kundi 11 songs pa ang nasa Top 100.

        Naging history maker tuloy si Jessica na wala sa Top 10 ang songs ang  runner-up. 

        Tapos ZERO pa rin sa Top 100, mas lalo siyang naging history maker.

        Nakakaawa tuloy na hindi man lang siya suportahan ng mga fans niya na puro daldal lang ang ginagawa.

        Kung ikaw ang producer, maglalakas-loob ka ba na mag-gamble sa kanya kung alam mong malulugi ka na ang mga fans niya ay pang-you tube lang?

        Bumili kayo ng mga songs at album niya para naman may maglakas-loob na producer na ikontrata siya, hindi puro lang daldal.

  • Martin

    If Jessica wants guaranteed big bucks, she should have big boobs first. 

  • Rednaxela VD

    If she is represented by CAA, then she would be fine.

    The next step is to become the girl of Derrick Rose or Dwayne Wade

  • Blinkx

    So wait a minute…the runner-up still has a contract or is under management of Idol after the show? That’s gotta suck then :P

    I thought that the runner-up has more freedom than the winner.

  • Johnlove

    Correct!  Help your favorite artist DIRECTLY by buying songs from itunes, not from Quiapo. 
    For a mere US$1.99 per song, it would mean a lot of help for your favorite artist.

  • Martin

    That’s why they should read the contract first before signing.  But the organizers won’t even allow them to read or consult the lawyers.  One former idol finalist has exposed this rigging of American Idol.

  • indiots

    tatabunan na kaya si charice ni jessica?

  • Practical

    The organizers won’t allow them to read the contract before having the contestants sign it?

    Only stupid people would sign ANY contract without reading it first.

    If the contestants do not agree to the contract, they can get out of the contest. There will be another 1 million hopefuls on the line.

  • indiots

    kailangan pumirma muna dahil doon ka pa lang ma-e-expose. pag sumikat na di saka magpataas.

  • Practical

     Hindi sikat sa US si Charice other than the Filipino community.

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