Kelly Clarkson Freed from American Idol Contract

Courtesy of Victoria Will/Invision/AP
Courtesy of Victoria Will/Invision/AP

After 13 years of recording under a contract with RCA that she earned through her title as the original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson has officially finished her contract and is operating as a free agent at the moment. With RCA, Clarkson has released 7 studio albums, 10 top 10 hit singles, and has accumulated more than 13 million album sales, thoroughly establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with in the industry. Sources are claiming that Clarkson may resign directly with RCA, but rumors are also circulating that the musician will be taking her talents to Big Machine Label Group, the home of Taylor Swift.

Currently, the artist seems to have a variety of relationships tying her to both labels. Clarkson has worked for 13 years with RCA, and she has undoubtedly established relationships with her team at the company over the years. She is also closely tied to American Idol still, having just appeared on the show last week to mentor the Top 8. On the other hand, Nashville-based Big Machine Label Group has established itself as a powerhouse for pop country crossover success. Scott Borschetta, the label’s CEO, is also appearing as a mentor of American Idol. Furthermore, Clarkson’s mother-in-law, Reba McEntire, is particularly close to Borschetta and has signed with one of his labels.

Holding Clarkson back from returning to RCA may be a disagreement with Clive Davis. Clarkson’s rift with Davis stems from his refusal to back the release of her mostly self-written and darker sounding My December in 2007. After the huge success of her biggest hit to date, “Since U Been Gone,” Davis did not want to give control of the album to Clarkson, preferring instead that she continue working with Dr. Luke and Max Martin. According to Clarkson, Davis told her that she was a “shitty writer” who should just “shut up and sing.” When Clarkson refused, Davis effectively pulled out most of the backing from the album, which went on to underperform with minimal promotion.

After releasing seven studio albums with RCA, it has been speculated that the “Breakaway” musician is capable of requesting some serious money for a new contract. In fact, the success of her current album, Piece by Piece, can only help the artist when it comes time to finalize a deal. Most artists have the option of opting out of a contract after their sixth album; however, Kelly Clarkson opted to complete her contract and topped the charts with her seventh album.

Coupled with her successes on radio, it has been estimated that Clarkson can demand upwards of between $1 and $3 million per record. As an established player at RCA, it is expected that Clarkson would be able to secure a higher earning status with them if she opts to return. Clarkson’s manager and father-in-law, Narvel Blackstock, revealed that Clarkson has yet to truly set her attention towards the new contract. “She hasn’t focused on it. Her new album just came out,” though he did say, “we love the team at RCA. They’re great to work with.”

FDRMX Eyes: Christian Dupree is a singer-songwriter who currently lives in Los Angeles. Dupree has released a live sessions video for the song, “It Ain’t Easy.”

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