Because American Idol contestant Madison VanDenburg is 17 and a minor, that means her contract with Idol has to be approved by a Los Angeles judge. That also means the contents of those contracts become part of the public record. We’ve gotten a look at Idol contracts in the past via minor contestants. The Blast got a look at Madison’s contract. Unfortunately the site does not link to the original documents, which would be really helpful.
According to the official contract signed by 17-year-old Madison VanDenburg and other Idol finalists:
- Each finalist records three original tracks during the competition, which can be used as they wish. (the article does not specify which finalists–Top 5, Top 3 etc)
- The show signs the winner, and possibly the runner-up, to Hollywood Records.
- The winner will get paid $125k to start and another $125k when they turn in their first album.
- The runner-up could be paid $87,500 plus another $87k when they finish.
- The winner will be paid $1,000 a week during recording and $1,000 per master recording turned in. The winner gets a 15% royalty rate for their first three albums.
- Once the contract begins, the American Idol winner has four months to hand over the finished album (No Idol winner turns in their album in four months. Wish the actual contract was available).
- A budget of $300,000 will be approved for the recording, but it counts as an advance.
- The label will handle all logistics, including budgets, studios, engagement of producers, engineers, musicians and background singers, payment of recording costs, publishing, third-party licenses, etc.
- The winner has to pay back 50% of the marketing costs spent on them.
According to The Blast, the winners for the first nine seasons reportedly took home at least $1 million and a recording deal.