Let's say, just for the fun of it, that Scotty had waited a year, gone on X-Factor, and won. What would he have earned? A million dollars a year for five years. Admittedly, we don't know much about how that works -- it could be a guaranteed minimum with potential for increase through sales or every person on earth can have your release and you still only get that year's million. But it's five million dollars for winning that show. Guaranteed.
What did Scotty get for winning AI? Well, we all know the scale slowly increases for the victor: it's this much for your initial release, and so much more if you get a second grouping out, up through six potential collections. But this time, the winner is a minor -- and that means the contract had to be a matter of public record.
The Internet loves public records.
Quoting Thefunnystone at VFTW:
'Scotty is set to earn $250,000 for winning and recording his first album. He'll also make a bit more for licensing his image for products, royalties for his music, and for going on tour.'
(Note: tour money is generally around 300k.)
'Lauren Alaina is making $87,500 (but it doubles if she records an album). This sounds low, and it's even funnier when you look at what some of the other minors made for being finalists on Idol. Jordin Sparks and David Archuleta made $360,000 after their first albums. So Scotty took a pay cut of over $100,000. Guess it pays to let a stupid hick win since he doesn't know any better. Now it makes even more sense why the final 2 ended up being these two.'
Opinions over possible hickdom aside, this kind of math tilts the field further towards Simon's pet project. You could make a very real argument that the most long-term asset you get from AI is the name. We've certainly had winners who didn't get the PR, promotions, studio backing, and long-term commitment to their success. But you do get the name behind you -- and not much else.
If you're going to be a flash in the pan, you might as well go for the show that's willing to buy the most gunpowder. And if Simon can prove himself able to not only find a worthy winner, but stay behind hir and make the push up the charts...
Idol may not be in too much trouble next year: I think the talent pool will be diluted, but the name will still draw someone in. The year after that, if Simon can make it all work while his original home rests on its lack of laurels --
-- do you think Ryan was smart enough to save anything?