American Idol 2010: Some Interesting Contract Info

TMZ has obtained a copy of the contract each contestant must sign before being on the show.  First and foremost there is a clause which MJ referred to as “the Paula clause” saying that singers cannot “enter into any personal, social, business, and or financial relationships with any of the judges, host(s), guest stars…”  This runs during the season of the show and for 6 months after.  So no fraternizing with the judges to earn brownie points.  Thanks for that Paula!

As far as the money they can make here is the breakdown: 

The winner gets $175,000 when he/she starts recording… and another $175,000 when that person  “delivers” the first album. If the winner gets a second album, he/she gets anywhere between $275,000 and $550,000 depending on the success of the album.  As for a third album — anywhere between $325,000 and 650,000.  As for a forth — anywhere between $375,000 – $750,000.  As for a fifth — $450,000 – $900,000.  And a six album gets the winner between $500,000 and a cool $1 mil.

The second place finisher gets $150,000 when he/she starts recording their first album … and another $150,000 upon delivery. The second album gets the runner-up between $225,000 and $450,000 and so on.

As for 3rd through 12th place — if the label signs them — they each get $100,000 when he/she begins recording album #1 and another $100,000 upon delivery … though most of them end up playing hot air balloon festivals.

Here’s the surprising information, at least for me, “A.I.” isn’t required to pay incidental expenses during the show.  Contestants even have to pay for their own transportation when they’re not traveling to and from the show.

With all the money this show makes I would think they could pay for the incidentals especially when someone can’t afford it on their own.




  1. Why did Simon keep saying, “with all of the thousands of songs you had to choose from I don’t understand these poor song choices tonight”??? Didn’t he know about the list of 34 horrible songs they had to choose from for Tuesday night?

  2. What is not clear to me Ashley is you mentioned up to 5 albums already. When will they will be free to stand on their own? Are these amounts totally for themselves? What if one of them decides to write a song? The copyright must be shared?
    Just curios Thank you for the info A 🙂

  3. That’s a relief. It means a lot for Aaron and Siobhan who, I believe will both have careers.

  4. Marta, I really have no idea. I haven’t read the contract personally but I did wonder the same thing. I know I read something at the beginning of the season that said they had to keep their contract with 19 entertainment for a year. I will try to find that article.

  5. You mean these contestants are not only leaving their jobs behind but are having to pay for their own room and board?! Mind bogling cheapness for AI. I am liking this show less and less all the time.

  6. That depends on the definition of “incidental” I believe. I don’t know what they mean by incidental but I would think that it would have something to do with making phone calls home and maybe nights out with the other contestants, maybe things like Crystal’s hospital/doctor bills when she was ill. Also maybe certain commodities and personal necessities while living out of a suitcase. Also maybe the expenses are deducted from their earnings kinda like the military does the sign on bonuses. So instead of getting the entire 175k they would deduct the expenses and give them the difference. Also I would want to mention that these contestants are getting promoted internationally as they perform each week. It’s not like AI is the only entity that is benefiting from the competition. Just look at the lengths and expenses that these contestants would have to go through to make their name common-place in households around the world if it weren’t for the exposure they get on the show.

  7. What Does Incidental Expenses Mean?
    Expenses including fees and tips for porters, baggage handlers and other personal service employees. These expenses are part of the “meals and incidental expenses reimbursement” rates provided by the IRS. Unreimbursed incidental expenses are deductible according to a schedule prescribed by the IRS.
    Investopedia explains Incidental Expenses
    Incidental expenses that are incurred as a result of casualty or theft, such as emergency room treatment for injury suffered as a result of mugging, are not deductible as a casualty loss.

    Above is the official legal definition for incidental expenses from Investopedia.

  8. Thanks Ashley:

    This is one of the most interesting posts that I have ever read about AI, in truth.

    Does this mean that when Crystal was sick on week #2, she had to pay for her own medical expenses? I am led to believe (as a non American) that some health insurance companies restrict their payments to the home state of the insured? Also if this is the case, what about all the early contestants that were suffering from Throat Infections and Larengitis (sp), did they pay their own expenses?

    Amazing how much money AI ‘powers that be’ must make from this; maybe enough to even pay to fix the votes!!!!

    GREAT POST!!!!

  9. A rate of $921 per one hour episode would not be $95,000 per year because they are performing only one hour per week. That makes it $47,892.

  10. Also, most health insurance plans DO pay even when you are out of state – typically at the out-of-network rate. I can’t imagine any temporary job paying for someone’s medical bills just because they are on the show as a non-full-time employee. I would hope they each have their own medial coverage that they had before they entered the contest.

  11. Jake @15 i agree… i wish i was there and if i were, i would cry too…
    Lee is so genuine and down to earth a person, so real, he’s full of feelings and sentiments…
    that’s probably why his songs and singing move me… really hope he’s going to win and continue to live his dream and make wonderful soulful music!

  12. I understand the comment,s made about favouritism and public manipulation. But I think Simon is looking at who he thinks is most marketable. On occassions if someone does not win on a talent competions he judges and he has favoured them he has helped to finance their production of an album. \and like in the case of Diane Vickers on Britains 2009 X factor who was the fav. to win she ended up in 4th or 5th place . A few weeks ago she was at number one in the British charts and has an album out. Exposure is good. Its up the competeter or backers to exploit it. Lennie Cohen and Bob Dylan are reputed to not have great singing voices. Imagine if they had started of on A1 if it excisted 40 or 50 years ago. I don,t think they would have got to the top five. And in A1, 2nd place is not that lesser financial price than first . 3 to 12 they have got to work hard for success. I can not imagine Lee or Crystal doing hot air balloon concerts. I am not sure about Casey. I think he would do better in a band.

  13. To all Lee fans:

    Please vote him more than you do because many other fans of his like me live in other country. Please!!!! No matter what happened to the performance.


  14. Lee wil def get my votes,but I do love all three.I’ll make a final decision from Tuesday show.Chyrstal is always great,but if Casey and Lee sing more beautiful balleds,they have a strong chance of winning.Ashley,where do the contestants live during the show?I loved when they showed the gorgous mansion they lived in.I asked a contestant what it was like(after an .I concert),and they said,Not as nice as you would think,and they were too tired to enjoy it.Can you give me any inside scoop about what kind of place they had,who is friends,any gossip-I’m a HUGE FAN FOR 8 YEARS!!!!!!!!!

  15. This is just plain exploitation of the contestants. They only get so little money when AI rakes in millions and millions. Even the Judges get a decent sum to be on the show. AI, time to wake up and pay the Idols more. They are the ones that bring in the money for you.

  16. Casey would do great in the movies. He has the look, the personality, charm and can sing. Lee is a darn good singer, and he is good looking, too. Do not think for a moment that the calls to AI are for the contestants. American Idol makes a lot of money on those calls. Then, if someone got more calls than the Judges thought they should have, the Judges change the votes to favor those they like. When Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard were the two top singers, Clay Aiken got more votes than Studdard and should have been declared the winner. However, Ruben Studdard was named the winner. Later, American Idol said there had been a computer problem on the calls, and that Clay had the most votes, – but, since Ruben was already declared the winner, AI refused to change it. Hope that doen’t happen this time.

  17. Simon earns a cool million from AI each season. The other “judges” probably each get a quarter of a million or more.

  18. I believe the following corrections are in order:
    1. Contestants are paid for 2 hours each week and 3 for the finale week. Even if not singing, if they speak a few words in response to Ryan, they must be paid scale.

    2. Simon’s latest contract was approx $36 million for this season. That’s what ticked off Paula. She was offered something in the range of $10-12 mill.

  19. I am a crystal fan, so just wondering now that she has a start, does she already have a manager, and someone taking care of her son, and how to contact her so she knows how imporant she is to us, fans

  20. I think crystal should of won.she is another Janis Joplin that is a fantastic compliment. Go girl see you in the prime lights and the awards

  21. Lee you are great to you have a great voice i would like you and Cristal to do adoette

  22. Casey you are a fantastic guitar musician and a great voice i wish you would of come in second what talent go Casey your hot and gorgeous and have a good heart

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