Samantha Diaz aka Just Sam, the winner of American Idol season 18, took a nearly month long social media break. But now that she’s back, she’s answering fan questions. During the Q&A conducted on Instagram stories, she talked frankly about how hard it’s been to navigate the music business post-Idol.
“I’m going to take a second to answer, a few of the questions that I keep seeing popping up on my comments,” Sam said in a video on her Instagram stories. “Because maybe, if I just answer them, people will stop asking me every single day of my life.”
The big question is if the New York City based singer is still making music. Sam has released only a couple of singles since she won American Idol two years ago. “I am,” she said. “Music is life. I am making as much music as I possibly can afford.”
And that’s the thing. After Sam won American Idol, she signed a deal with Hollywood Records. However, she never released music on the label, and they parted ways. Unfortunately, the young artist is finding life as an indie harder than expected.
“It is not easy, especially when you know, nothing about the industry”
“I just turned 23 years old. So I was 22, 21 off of [American Idol],” she explains. “It is not easy being a 21 year old and running your own business and paying for your own music to be mixed and mastered and all the good things,” She continued, “It is not easy, especially when you know, nothing about the industry. I don’t have parents to teach me these things. So I’m learning what I can.”
She’s not navigating the music business totally on her own. “I have people who are helping me. I’m putting out music when I can and when it’s ready,” she said. “It’s just hard because I’m coming out of pocket and I have bills to pay. And American Idol is not going to pay my bills. Lionel Richie’s not going to pay my bills. Katy Perry’s not going to pay my bills. Luke Bryan is not going to pay my bills. I have to pay my rent. I have to make sure that I’m eating every day, which is hard to do.”
Sam also makes sure to take care of her mental health. “I do take time to meditate and I’m seeing a counselor for my PTSD. I have to take care of myself too, because nobody’s going to take care of me.”
“I thought it was gonna be easy, just go to the studio record, put out music”
“I thought it was gonna be easy, just go to the studio record, put out music,” Sam lamented. “And that’s not how the world works. That’s not how the industry works. It takes time, it takes money that I don’t have. It takes patience.”
Fans asked what happened to her American Idol finale performance of “Rise Up.” Apparently, it’s no longer available to download or stream on iTunes. (Both the “Rise Up” Idol performance and audio stream are available on Youtube, however.)
“I was not the one that pulled that down from iTunes, Hollywood Records did that,” Sam said. “I don’t know the logistics behind it. I don’t know the legal side of things. But I believe that when we parted ways, in order for them to keep 100% of the money that was made from “Rise Up,” I think they had to pull it from streams so that I wouldn’t get a cut, which is smart. Smart move Hollywood.”
“I invested in myself and I ended up broke”
“I am making music,” she assured her fans. “I just cannot afford to release music, because mixing and mastering music costs a lot of money. And I invested in myself and ended up broke. That’s the truth. Not broke, broke–like I’m living. I have my own place.
But it sounds like Sam had to buy her way out of her record deal. “I’m not even going to tell you guys the amount of money that I had to pay after leaving the label to claim songs that I had already recorded.”
“I’m recording all the time or making music all the time, writing every day, doing what I have to do to survive,” she said.
“I really genuinely did try to pay off my music. I tried their way and it did not work.”
She can’t go broke paying to release music. “How can I put music before rent, I’d literally be back in the place that I was in before the show if I did that.”
“And I tried, I really genuinely did try to pay off my music, the way that the label suggested after we parted ways. I tried their way and it did not work.” She added, “I’m doing it God’s way. I’m trusting the process.”
“Nobody knows what I’ve been going through before the show ended”
*I’m doing the best that I can,” Sam insisted. “Nobody knows what I’ve been going through before the show ended, while I was on the show, after the show. Nobody knows what we went through. And I can’t even talk about it the way that I want to right now.”
A fan asked if Sam would consider starting a GoFundMe to raise money. “I would consider it,” she said, “But I don’t think it’s a good idea cuz I think it’s just giving people more crap to talk about me.”
Meanwhile, Sam has been posting quite a bit since she returned to social media. It’s probably why she decided to answer questions, as fans pepper her posts with queries. She uploads clips to TIk Tok, which she cross posts to Instagram. In one, she does a thing with her grandmother, and it’s really cute.
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