'Idol' adds online songwriting competition


You haven't missed your chance to compete on "American Idol" this year. The hit Fox show is adding a songwriting contest to give the winning singer a winning first single.

The contest, which has been in the works since last year and was to be kicked off on Wednesday's show, is online. Aspiring songwriters can submit their work to be judged by "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller and his 19 Entertainment company.

The 20 songs Fuller and his staff pick can be heard and voted on online. The top vote-getter will be performed on the show's season finale by the two finalists and recorded by the winning singer.

The songwriter will receive a music publishing deal and cash advance on royalties, 19 Entertainment said.

"Having an undiscovered songwriter create the winner's single seemed like a natural next step for our show," Fuller said in a statement Wednesday. "Not only do the fans pick their American Idol, but also his or her first single."

In the past five seasons, the show has called on industry professionals to create original songs for the finalists, with the winner or even the runner-up consistently scoring best-selling records with the tunes.

But the songs, such as last season's "Do I Make You Proud," sung by winner Taylor Hicks, have been criticized as forgettable or worse.

Fuller has said he'd like numbers that were better matches for the singers.

The contest is open to those who are at least 18 and don't have an exclusive publishing deal. Songs can be uploaded online through April 17, with voting set for May 2-8. The winning number will be announced May 22, the first day of the two-day season finale.