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Jessica Sanchez 'Idol' Pay Could Be As Low As $30,000

It is believed to be the first time a second-place finisher was not guaranteed an album deal.

Jessica Sanchez
Michael Becker/FOX

Being an American Idol runner-up may not be as lucrative for Jessica Sanchez as it was for her counterparts in seasons past.

In previous years, second place finishers were guaranteed the opportunity to record an album, which came with a royalties advance of at least $175,000. But per the contracts signed by this year’s Idol finalists, Sanchez’s payday could be as small as $30,000, the Associated Press reports.

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19 Recordings Inc., which is given the option to handle the recordings of Idol alumni, replaced the guaranteed album deal for this year’s runner-up with a “Development Period.” Sanchez could be asked to record as few as four songs, for which she would be paid a $30,000 advance, or an EP of between four to 10 songs, for which she would receive a $60,000 advance. Should 19 Recordings agree to produce an entire album by Sanchez, she would receive the same $175,000 advance as previous runners-up. 

It is believed to be the first time in the show’ history that the runner-up has not been guaranteed a deal to record a full album.

Analysts say the lower payday makes sense, considering the relatively recent tendency for consumers to buy single songs rather than full albums, and Idol’s lower ratings this season. Wednesday’s finale was the Fox show’s lowest rated finale ever, down 32% from 2011.

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The payday for the first place winner is unchanged, according to the AP review of the contracts. As was the case for last year’s winner, Scotty McCreery, new Idol champion Phillip Phillips will receive a $300,000 advance once he completes his first album. He could receive as much as $800,000 for six albums, should 19 Recordings agrees to produce them.

Under the contracts, Idol finalists who placed below Sanchez are guaranteed a minimum $24,000 advance if they honor their obligations to record four single songs, but they could be paid more if they receive deals for singles, EPs or albums.

Despite the lower paydays, there are other opportunities for Idol alumni to monetize their time on the show. Phillips will receive $200,000 for Disney attraction work, and Sanchez is set to make $50,000 for appearances. Both are said to be receiving a cut of merchandise profits.