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American Idol 2011: Summer Tour Rips Off Contestants?

Posted by on May 24, 2011 at 7:19 PM EST

american idol summer tourAmerican Idol 2011 summer tour rips off the contestants?

Are the American Idol singers getting screwed when it comes to the pay they will get for this summer’s tour? I guess that all depends on how you look at it.

The top 11 finalists from this season’s American Idol will hit the road this summer for the annual American Idol tour. The show will feature each singer getting to sing a few songs on their own and some group numbers. You might think that a show that always finishes first or second in the ratings and has churned out mega stars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson would be ripe with cash and give the singers a first class experience while on tour. You might be wrong.

TMZ got a hold of the contract that the singers sign when they join the tour. Each American Idol tour singer is guaranteed to be put up in a Marriot/Hyatt style hotel room which isn’t bad at all. However, they will be required to fly coach between tour stops which is a little odd. You would think they would charter a plane if for no other reason than the simplicity of it and not having to worry about people missing flights or delays. The singers will also share in merchandising revenue, but to what extent we don’t know.

Where the American Idol 2011 tour gets real cheap on the singers is the pay. Each singer will get $1,000 per night that they perform and they will get $50 in spending money on off days where there are no shows. The tour is scheduled to make 47 stops this summer so they will make at least $47,000 dollars each. Not bad for a summer job right? Here is the problem. Tickets for the show range between $45 and $65. So let’s split the difference and say the average ticket will be $55. If they sell 10,000 tickets per show (and I think that is conservative considering they are playing in arenas most everywhere they go) that means ticket sales alone will bring in $550,000 per show.  Multiply that by 47 shows and you have $25.8 million in ticket sales. The singers, as a group, will make a total of $470,000 or about 1.8 % of the total revenue.

I understand that the American Idol 2011 tour has expenses, but if you were to hire a band that was capable of selling 10,000 tickets for a show it would cost you at least $100,000-$150,000 per show plus their expenses to book them.  It is the singers that the fans are coming to see. Without them there is no tour. I understand that without the show these singers are still unknowns, but to me it looks like it is a very co-dependent relationship. Almost all of the singers that appear on American Idol will never find success in the music business so the exposure alone has limited value. Meanwhile the show makes tens of millions of dollars off the singers during any given season. It wouldn’t kill them to thank the Top 11 by giving them a little more of the pie. Even if they kicked it up to $10,000 per show that would be only 20% of the total ticket revenue. That leaves plenty of room for a nice big profit for the show producers and everyone gains.

So just be aware when you buy your ticket to the American Idol 2011 summer tour most of your money is not going to your favorite singer (Casey Abrams), it is going to a producer somewhere who likely isn’t even on the road with the tour.



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