Future finalists and winners of ABC’s “American Idol” reboot will be recording their debuts for Hollywood Records, Variety has learned. It is the first time the Disney label has been affiliated with the show, which ran for 15 seasons on Fox, and follows previous “Idol” pacts with Sony Music, Interscope Records and Big Machine Label Group. Hollywood was also the label partner for ABC’s “Boy Band,” which aired this summer.
When “American Idol” first premiered in 2002, contestants were initially signed to a management deal with parent corporation 19 Entertainment (producer of the original “Idol” show) and a recording contract with SonyBMG. At the time, the mega-label served as the parent company to Arista, Columbia, Epic, Jive and RCA records.
Shortly after her victory as the first “Idol” winner, Kelly Clarkson released her coronation single, “A Moment Like This,” through RCA Records. Her debut, “Thankful,” set the “Idol” bar high early with 2.8 million albums. Her sophomore album, “Breakaway,” nearly tripled those numbers in 2004 with 6.3 million sales. Runner-up Justin Guarini also released his debut through the label, but was dropped not long after.
Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard released his debut, “Soulful,” with J Records, only to be topped by runner-up Clay Aiken, whose “Measure of a Man” sold 2.7 million units and was released by RCA in 2003. Aiken’s hot streak continued in 2004 with the release of “Merry Christmas With Love,” and 1.4 million sales.
Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino was signed to J Records, releasing her debut “Free Yourself” in 2004 with sales topping 1.8 million. Runner-up Diana DeGarmo also was awarded a record deal with RCA, as would Jennifer Hudson who remains signed to the label today.
Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood not only opened the floodgates for future “Idol” country stars, but scored big with Arista Nashville when her debut, “Some Hearts,” sold 7.4 million copies. Season 4 runner-up Bo Bice was picked up by RCA andseason 5 winner Taylor Hicks signed with Artista, selling 705,000 of his eponymous debut, considered a low ebb benchmark for winners at the time. Runner-up Katharine McPhee inked a deal with RCA, selling 365,500, but it was fourth place contestant Chris Daughtry who emerged as the record-selling powerhouse of that season selling 5 million copies of his debut, “Daughtry.”
Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks improved winner sales numbers by selling 1 million copies of her 2007 debut on Jive Records/19 Recordings/Zomba Label Group. Runner-up Blake Lewis’ debut “A.D.D. (Audio Day Dream),” released through Arista Records, topped out at 308,000.
Season 7 saw winner David Cook’s RCA/19 Recordings debut sold a cool 1.3 million in 2008, with runner-up David Archuleta signing to Jive and selling 765,000 that same year.
In 2009, season 8 winner Kris Allen’s eponymous Jive Records/29 Recordings album debuted, selling 346,000, while runner-up and future Queen frontman Adam Lambert’s RCA debut, “For Your Entertainment,” outsold those numbers the same year with 863,000.
Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze didn’t fare as well, as his RCA debut, “Live it Up,” didn’t reach Gold certification and stalled at 178,000. Interestingly enough, runner-up Crystal Bowersox’s debut, “Farmer’s Daughter,” was released through Jive and outsold the winner with 230,000.
Season 9 also saw the departure of Simon Cowell, and the show underwent an overhaul in Season 10 with the addition of judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez and a partnership with Interscope Records and Jimmy Iovine. The result was a country showdown between Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, with victor McCreery making the show a player on the sales charts with his debut, “Clear as Day,” selling 1.1 million records for Mercury Nashville. Runner-up and future Country Music Award best new artist nominee Lauren Alaina’s RCA release, “Wildflower,” sold 303,000.
That gold streak continued with the white hot success of Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, as his Interscope debut, “The World from the Side of the Moon,” not only sold 1 million copies but caught national attention when his coronation song, “Home,” was featured in the 2012 Olympics as the theme for the Women’s Gymnastics team. Jessica Sanchez was also signed to Interscope, with “Me You and the Music” selling 14,000 its first week of release.
Subsequent seasons saw a downward trend and the end of the show’s relationship with Interscope, with Season 12 winner Candice Glover’s “Music Speaks” selling 27,000 and Season 13 rocker Caleb Johnson’s “Testify” stalling at 24,000, both in 2014.
In Seasons 14 and 15, the show partnered with Nashville’s Big Machine Records and new mentor Scott Borchetta, inking deals for winners Nick Fradiani and Trent Harmon, with a runner-up La’ Porsha Renae signed as the first artist in a deal with Motown Records. Fradiani’s 2016 debut, “Hurricane,” (Big Machine/Republic/Dot) sold 5,000 copies, while Harmon has yet to release a full album and Renae’s “Already All Ready” debuted at No. 15 on the R&B charts. Her debut single, “Battles,” sold 7,000 copies and was also featured as the official song for the United States Women’s Gymnastics Team for the 2016 Summer Olympics.