Talent Recap

Do ‘American Idol’ Winners Get More Support Than Winners of ‘The Voice’?

TraePatton/NBC EricMcCandless/ABC

Reading Time: 9 minutes

American Idol and The Voice have both crowned new winners of their most recent seasons. Chayce Beckham and Cam Anthony walked away with the titles on each show. Now, we wait to see if their careers will take off like some other huge stars or if they will fade to the background like some of the forgotten winners.

The fate of these contestants’ careers relies on how they are supported by the show after filming wraps. In this most recent example, Idol‘s Chayce Beckham circled the talk show circuits the day after his win. He was featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Live with Kelly and Ryan, and Good Morning America all the day after his win. Cam Anthony, on the other hand, had far less talkshow publicity. He wasn’t even featured on The Ellen Degeneres Show, where he performed as a child, for over a week after his win.

What Kind of Support Do ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Voice’ Winners Get From Each Show?

One thing that plays a major factor in how successful talent show winners are is the prize and support they get from the show. Madison VanDenburg finished in third place on Season 17 of American Idol in 2019. Her contract leaked online displaying what she would receive if she won the show. It is assumed that since Idol’s shift to ABC in 2018, the prize has remained relatively the same.

The contract states that the winner of American Idol receives $250,000, but not all in one shot. They first get $125,000 and only get the second half of the money once they complete their album under Hollywood Records. Each of their first three albums under the label has a 15% royalty rate. They are on a four-month time crunch with the album and could get up to a $300,000 advance. They are then responsible for paying back 50% of the marketing costs that was spent to make the album.

While the winner is recording their album, they get paid $1,000 a week. For each song they record, they get another $1,000. This is a stark contrast from the very early winners of American Idol. Winners from the first nine seasons are known to have signed $1 million deals or close to it. Obviously, the earlier winners saw more success than some of the more recent winners. This has reflected in the prize money and support the winner now gets after American Idol.

The winners of The Voice, on the other hand, get a record deal with Universal Music Group. They only get $100,000, which is obviously significantly less than the winners of American Idol. They also walk away with a V-shaped trophy, perhaps a consolation prize for the neglect some of them receive from the label after the show.


Do ‘Idol’ Winners Actually Get More Support After the Show?

Money-wise, the American Idol winners definitely earn more after the show. Even though they do have to pay some money back, that’s just all a part of show business. However, when it comes to the support of the judges, The Voice bests Idol in that regard. Blake Shelton has toured with winning artist Sundance Head after The Voice. Alicia Keys also stepped up when it came to her winning artist Chris Blue, acting as his manager in 2017.

We have never seen any of the American Idol judges invite winners on tour with them or to record with them in the studio. The closest we have ever gotten to that is when Luke Bryan invited Chayce on a fishing trip before winning this season of American Idol. The truth is, most of the early American Idol winners didn’t need the judges’ support in order to be successful. They were all very marketable and had huge fanbases from the start that carried on after the show.

The Voice boasts a different group of contestants with no age restrictions, some of which already had established music careers prior to auditioning for the show. They usually leave The Voice a bit disappointed. The coaches on The Voice have always lobbied for the winners to receive more opportunities from being on the show. Shelton and Adam Levine have both spoken out about this many times in the past.

“The rollout of all that is still such a mess,” Levine said. “And by the way, just to clarify, this has nothing to do with what happens on NBC or with the people. In that time, we do so much great sh*t for these singers, and then they go to a record label that I won’t mention. But they go to a record label that f*cks it up.”


‘The Voice’ Winners Have Publicized the Label’s Lack of Support

On both shows, there have been winners whose careers flopped. However, The Voice winners are twice as likely to come forward with their experiences facing a lack of support from the record label. Even though they won a record deal on the show, this does not automatically guarantee that they won the support of the label.

The Voice winners Javier Colon, Tessanne Chin, Craig Wayne Boyd, Sawyer Fredericks, Alisan Porter, and Sundance have all expressed distaste about signing with the label. They were all either dropped from the label or left on their own after signing the contract.

The Voice has more of a competitive nature where the real stars are the coaches, not the winners. Whereas American Idol molds singers into true artists by introducing them to the process behind creating original music. This became more clear as The Voice began airing two seasons a year and not letting each winner have their own moment to bask in their win. Season 21 will finally be the first season that will not get a season following immediately after.

The Shows’ First Season Winners Have Opposite Success Stories


In the first season of American Idol, nobody knew how well the show would be received by viewers at home. It became a cult phenomenon and Kelly Clarkson’s win solidified the show as a hub of top-tier talent. Clarkson signed a contract with Sony after the show. Her double-track song “Before Your Love”/”A Moment Like This” topped the Billboard Hot 100 before being named one of the best-selling singles of 2002.

This was only the beginning for Clarkson who now has eight studio albums, three Grammy awards, her own talk show, and the best-selling single by an American Idol contestant with “Stronger.” Seven of her albums were with Sony. Clarkson left the American Idol label and signed a deal with Atlantic Records in 2016. She now has an estimated $45 million net worth. She has not been shy about expressing what it was really like working under the American Idol contract saying it was “like an arranged marriage.”

Javier Colon who won the first season of The Voice did not find instant fame like Clarkson after his win. He parted ways with Republic Records after the show. He did not hesitate to speak out about how he felt the label failed him. Much like Clarkson, Javier found the deal to be like an “unforeseen bad marriage.”

He was once valued at $1.8 million by some outlets, and $200,000 by others. Both Javier and Clarkson described working under their contracts in a similar way. Now Clarkson is one of the biggest stars in the music industry and Colon has not been able to find the same success.

Carrie Underwood and Cassadee Pope: Most Successful Winners of Each Show


After winning American Idol in 2005, Carrie Underwood signed with Arista Nashville under Sony Music Nashville. She released five incredibly successful studio albums under this contract. The seven-time Grammy winner’s fourth album Blown Away topped the country albums chart and swept most categories at the CMT Awards in 2012.

After 12 years with Arista Nashville, Underwood left the label. She signed with Capitol Records Nashville under the Universal Music Group Nashville. In the case of Underwood, she was able to make a smooth transition to the new label. Underwood has put out three more albums under this new label since 2018, which have contributed to her estimated $140 million net worth. She has become the most successful American Idol winner of all time though some die-hard Clarkson fans may dispute this.

The most successful winner of The Voice is without question Cassadee Pope. While Pope has not become the megastar that Underwood has, she has built quite the country music career for herself since winning the show in 2012. But like many of her fellow Voice winners, she was not happy after signing with Big Machine Records. She felt “creatively stunted” and decided it was best to release music independently under Awake Music. Her estimated net worth is somewhere around $5 million.

Who Were the Least Successful Winners?


Just Sam won Season 18 of American Idol and Carter Rubin won Season 19 of The Voice. Sam told Talent Recap exclusively that she is no longer with her label and has instead been funding her music on her own. Carter has also not released any album thus far.

Both of these artists got the short end of the stick after winning the shows during the pandemic. It’s not their fault that they did not have a proper chance to get the big album releases or performances they deserve. The same scenario is the case for Season 18 winner of The Voice Todd Tilghman.

Putting all of that aside, Season 13 American Idol winner Caleb Johnson is a contender for the least successful winner of the show. Caleb does not consider his 2014 album Testify under the American Idol contract to be his first album any longer. In an interview with News & Record, Caleb said that he “didn’t have a lot of control over the first Idol record.”

Therefore, he considers his album Born From Southern Ground his first album. It was recorded under his own label with his band The Ramblin Saints five years after his win. Caleb does not get a ton of love on social media nor is he the first person fans think of when they think about all of the successes of some of the past winners on the show.

Season 2 winner of The Voice, Jermaine Paul should have had a booming career after the show. He already had a huge resume of achievements leading up to his Blind Audition in 2012. Jermaine was nominated for a Grammy for his collaboration with Alicia Keys prior to the show. After winning The Voice, Jermaine has pretty much had a complete career 180, and not in a good way.

Clicking the link in Jermaine’s Instagram bio takes you to an album that was very quietly released in 2019. He is not verified on Instagram which is odd considering he is a talent show winner. Shelton always boasts about having winners from his team that are not in the country genre. But, it’s quite contradictory that this R&B winner is not a household name. Hopefully, Cam could break the spell after winning the show on Team Blake this year.

Which Factors Lead ‘American Idol’ Winners to Achieve More Success?

The bottom line is, both shows need a total revamp on the recording contracts they offer contestants. After competing and baring their souls on national television, winners deserve more of a push from the show once they release their own material. This especially reigns true for winners of The Voice who have disappeared from the music scene over the years.

Whether it’s simply promoting their work on social media, or bringing the winners back on future seasons to perform their new music, The Voice and American Idol can both do better. The Voice should not solely rely on the coaches to help the contestants launch their careers. That’s what record producers, managers, and publicists are for. 

More than half of The Voice contestants cut ties with the label after winning the show for valid reasons. The common denominator here in most cases of unsuccessful Voice winners is frustrations with the label. Now, we wait to see if the show decides to do anything about it.

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