What Is ‘American Idol’ Winner Laine Hardy’s Prize?
Eighteen-year-old Laine Hardy was crowned the Season 2 winner of ABC's American Idol -- but what does that mean for the Livingston, La., native? According to this year's contestants' contracts, the show's big prize isn't quite what it used to be, but it still involves a recording contract and $250,000 in cash.
According to the Blast, which obtained the contract signed by third-place finisher Madison VanDenburg, the 2019 American Idol winner is signed to Hollywood Records, a division of Disney Music Group, which itself is part of the Walt Disney Company, which also owns ABC. They have four months, once their contract with Hollywood Records is officially signed, to hand in their first album.
For that project, this year's Idol winner is being given a budget of $300,000, which is an advance and must be paid back, along with 50 percent of the marketing budget the label spends on them. The winner is also paid $125,000 at the start of the process and another $125,000 when the completed album is turned in, as well as $1,000 per week during the recording process and $1,000 per master recording. Hollywood Records handles all of the logistics of the process, and the winner earns 15 percent royalties.
Each of the Top 3 American Idol contestants this season recorded three original songs -- which are theirs to use as they wish -- during their time on the TV singing competition; for his part, Hardy has already released one of them, "Flame," as his first single. As the winner, Hardy will also be invited to perform at a number of Disney events, including June's ARDYs awards show.
Should Hollywood Records choose, the show's runner-up may also be offered a recording contract. Full details of that contract were not laid out in VanDenburg's document, but it was stipulated that the runner-up would be paid $87,500 to start their album, plus $87,500 more when it's completed.
However, the American Idol winner's prize is a fraction of what it once was. During the show's first nine seasons, according to the New York Times, no winner had received less than $1 million. Carrie Underwood, country music's biggest Idol winner to date, won that big-dollar recording contract, as well as Ford Mustang and the use of a private jet, People reports, when she was crowned the winner of Season 4 of the show's original run on Fox.
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