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'Idol' Contestants

No Shtupping the Judges

5/13/2010 10:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

TMZ obtained a copy of the contract every "American Idol" contestant must sign before going on the show -- and one thing is perfectly clear .... Ryan, Randy, Ellen, Kara, Simon, Theodore and Alvin are not available for their pleasure.

'Idol' Contestants
According to the legal doc -- a copy of which was filed in court because a contestant was a minor -- the contestants promise the following:  "Neither I nor any members of my family or my friends will enter into any personal, social, business, and or financial relationships with any of the judges, host(s), guest stars ..."  The prohibition runs for the duration of the show and 6 months thereafter.

But the way we see it ... there's no way the contract can bind family or friends.  Nonetheless, it's a good threat, because according to the doc, a contestant will be disqualified for violating the rule and forfeit any prize money.

And in the money department ... here's the way it breaks down.

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.

And get this ... according to the contract, "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.


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I must admit, to have a 3 some with Kara and Siobhan Magnus would be the hottest thing

1594 days ago

Professor Obvious    

I've always had a crush on Ellen Degeneres, I think she's really cute and appealing in a girl-next-door kind of way.

1594 days ago


That pay is crap.Thought the show winner got a million dollar record deal???? Also if thats all they get as a "payment" do they get money based on the number of CD's sold???

1594 days ago


It's a standard album contract, and the money that they get is their advance (which is actually fairly generous in this day and age). Additionally they receive money from album sales, as well as mechanical royalties (from radio play, TV usage, etc.) And of course, the record company doesn't touch touring or merchandise income.

It's interesting though, that a show with such huge viewership has produced so few stars.

1594 days ago


This show is about to fade, permanently!!! No one coming out of the show, from this point forward, will ever have more success than Carrie Underwood, . . . end of story. I really don't think that Simon's new related show will do well either, . . . we've seen it, done it, . . . and have a small handful of legitimate entertainers to show as a result of it!!!

1594 days ago


This show is doomed now that Simon is leaving. The entire season has been a bore. Ellen was a bad choice, Kara is annoying and Ryan has been acting really strange. I'll give Simon's new show a try, especially if he gets Paula as a judge.

1594 days ago



Under the age discrimination laws, which are both federal and state, including in California, it is unlawful for a private employer of any size to discriminate based on age. Federally, it's age 40. In California, where AI is based, it may even be lower. So here's the question. AI is absolutely adamant and openly public about it's strict upper age cut-off. If you're older than the cut-off, you can't even audition, even if you're Barbra Streisand. Surely the "employer" identified on this contract TMZ has discussed today is covered by both the federal and the state age discrimination laws, yet nothing has ever been said, let alone alone, about this apparently wholly unlawful age limitation that's all over the media, and has been for years on AI... what gives????

Let me assure you all... I can't sing a note, so I'm not angling for an audition. I am concerned, however, about what appears to be a blatant legal violation being touted on national television and everyone seeming to be okay with it. That limitation is teaching everyone watching AI that you are ridiculous if you want to sing professionally and win a record contract after age 28 or 30. I remember one year, they tolerated one "old" guy singing an ode to his recently deceased wife... then shuffled the "old" guy out the door with some patronizing smirking.

Under the AI rules, for example, an American Susan Boyle can't even audition. If this were corporate America -- which this is, given the dollars involved -- there would have been a lawsuit instantly.

I sure would love to know what the legal eagles at TMZ think about this.

1594 days ago



1594 days ago

Rob J    

#28. To be fair, Ryan only acted strange for that one episode. I still maintain that he was high on something that show.

But every other episode, he's been business as usual.

1594 days ago




1594 days ago

pooper scooper    

greedy little bastards

1594 days ago


That sucks, the winner should at least get a bigger cash bonus from the show itself. This contract seems to only be related to the record deal. But haven't some contestants signed with non-Idol affiliated labels?

1594 days ago


Sounds like pretty good money for kids that usually have nothing when they start.

1593 days ago


How is it that Lee DeWyze has an album out alredy in Wal Mart? I picked it up yesterday, it's called "Slumberland". Seems like they knew he was going to win all along, it's a great album.

1593 days ago


We stopped watching the show after last season, and I didn't want to watch it then. After Ms. Kara tossed two of the best contestants under the bus (both female, one very attractive, both with unique style, superior vocal talent and enormous potential) because they wouldn't bend to her will and do it HER way, I lost all interest. I did enjoy the 17 year old Allison (sp?) giving Kara a piece of her mind for being an over-bearing, vicious, my-way-or-the-highway bitch.

But the show featuring Ellen Degeneres as a judge (Why? She is not a singer, songwriter, or involved in music in any way. Nor is she funny. I get tired of all of the lesbian comments...BFD she's gay, so what?...but a judge on AI? No.), leaving Kara in place, who will NEVER let a female win, and having good old Randy stay on (we think he's into the ganja before every show)...but losing Simon? Bye-bye. Some of the contestants in the two previous seasons were getting pretty sorry, but after viewing this season's paltry offerings (only on the internet), I can only yawn.

As to the age limitations...they're just trying to be contemporary, and appeal to that 16-20-something demographic. Sadly, there are many people in this country with vocal skills who are older than the 29 year old cut off age, and who are not so cookie-cutter boring, so fraught with angst, so whiny and entitled. Yuck. Blah. Some diversity would be so pleasant. All one sees on Idol is a smattering of Top 40 country, Pop, a little rock (almost all very recent and very uninspired), Pop, a touch of hip-hop (not much singing required), did I say "Pop"?, and occasionally someone like Adam L. (whom I predicted would completely jump the shark after Idol's season finale) who has the vocal chops, but is more interested in making a scene than making music. O, and Pop.

I think Simon's show might have a chance, but American's are so crazed with their obsession with youth. God forbid you have a line, or a grey hair, or be greater than a size 0-2. But Simon is an excellent promoter...if Susan Boyle could do it, the sky is the limit.

1593 days ago
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