“American Idol” isn’t the only one making changes. As the talent show moves into season 10 with a new slate of judges, the program’s producer 19 Entertainment shifts from Sony Music Entertainment to Universal Music Group.
Sony inherited the 19 deal when it merged with BMG, which has had the partnership for nine years, according to Billboard. A number of past “AI” contestants remain on Sony labels including Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Fantasia, David Cook, Adam Lambert, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks and David Archuleta. Sony will also release albums this fall from Season 9’s winner, Lee DeWyze, and runner-up, Crystal Bowersox.
Going forward, UMG will release the debut from the “AI” winner, as well as have rights to the other finalists. Contestants will come out through the Interscope/Geffen/A&M labels.
"We like delivering hits and new artists,” UMG co-CEO Lucian Grainge said in a statement issued by the label group. “UMG and ‘American Idol’ is the right combination at the right time. Pairing the renowned expertise of Simon [Fuller] and Jimmy [Iovine, IGA chairman] in developing and marketing musical talent creates a truly winning combination that will allow 'Idol's' artists to realize their fullest potential."
No reason for the shift was given, but sales for “Idol” contestants have fallen off considerably, with recent winners failing to achieve the heights of Clarkson or Underwood. Sony pop-oriented imprints such as J and Jive were great fits for many "Idols," plus Sony easily placed acts like Underwood through its Nashville divisions. it will be interesting to see if Universal shifts country-leaning 'Idols' to Mercury Nashville. In Geffen chairman, Ron Fair, who signed Christina Aguilera to RCA and then worked with Pussycat Dolls at IGA, the label has the perfect in-house producer for pure pop acts.