American Idol winners are dropped from their record labels with such hilarious regularity these days that it's only natural you'd worry about their financial well-being. Don't, though! According to documents recently made public (under laws requiring the approval of a court for entertainment deals with minors), the minimum an Idol winner can earn is $650,000, with performance fees, album advances, and merchandising royalties factored in. And according to the Times' sources, no winner — not even Taylor Hicks, presumably! — has ever failed to make at least $1 million.
Last year's winner, Kris Allen, was paid an advance for his album of $350,000 and an additional $200,000 to tell a camera, "I'm going to Disney World" and the day-long taping of a segment for use at the park's new attraction, the American Idol Experience. And even losers can do okay — second-place finisher Adam Lambert got a $300,000 album advance, $75,000 for merchandising royalties, and $50,000 from Disney for his appearance.
"I'm shocked that they give them that much money," says an agent for non-Idol-affiliated artists the Times spoke with who is probably more used to having his singers starve to death. The agent says a more reasonable recording deal would pay a measly advance of $100,000 or $150,000.
Anyway, definitely don't worry about 2006 winner Taylor Hicks just because he's currently appearing in a traveling production of Grease. It's not because he needs the money.