May 26th, 2010
01:31 PM ET

Forbes ranks top 'Idol' earners

Regardless of who wins “American Idol” season nine, be it Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze, it appears that neither has mega-success to look forward to.

According to a Forbes ranking of the top earning “Idol” contestants, the music market is pretty well saturated with almost 100 "Idol" alumni and the odds are against this season’s winner raking in the dough.

Last year’s winner, Kris Allen, sold only 300,000 copies of his album, and if ratings and vote tallies are any indication, fans may have moved beyond voting for their favorites with their wallets.

Neither Bowersox nor DeWyze is expected to do as well as No. 1 on the Forbes list, Carrie Underwood.

The publication, which ranked "Idol" stars according to earnings made from June 2009 to May 2010, says the country singer raked in $13 million, making her the most financially successful artist launched from the show.

Coming in a close second was season one champ Kelly Clarkson, whose millions of records sold plus a successful tour helped her garner $11.7 million over the past year. Third place finisher on the list is Chris Daughtry, who earned $10.2 million.

Not too shabby for the man who finished fourth on season five of the show behind that year’s winner Taylor Hicks, who didn’t even rank on the Forbes list.

Click here to view the complete list.

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Ron31

    Carrie will eventually out sell everone who has ever been on Idol. Country music has a huge fan base and country music fans also keep it country. Carrie also co-wrote half of the songs on her latest CD(Play On). She will forever and always be the most successful Idol. Carrie is also branching out in television an movies,she had a guest spot on "How I Met Your Mother" and has a movie coming out in 2011.

    November 30, 2010 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. kayster58

    dungbeetle said it best..."Carrie Underwood, Clarkson and Daughtry...there is your talent...successful right out of the gate!!"

    November 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dee

    You know, I'm not a Taylor Hicks fan, but I do know that (sadly for him) he was not the CHOSEN ONE for that season. If America doesn't listen and vote for whomever Simon "tells" them to vote for, well, they'd better have a big plan because they won't get much help from Idol. It's not Taylor's fault. It's American Idol's fault, and I think people are finally wising up to them. Their ship is sinking fast. It was a fun ride for quite a while though.

    May 28, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. scales2

    I agree with GetReal. Record sales are declining all-around and even established singers aren't selling lots of records; however, there's broadway, producing, hosting, etc. Many make millions in the music industry behind the scenes. I think if they take the exposure and take advantage of it, AI contestants can certainly make more money than the average Joe. Also, 300,000 albums doesn't sound that shabby; after all, 500,000 is considered gold.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Frank La May

    American idol blew it again. Dewyze is a loser. who should have been in the finally. i agree with Crystal but think the man should have been Aaron . he could sing the best and his selection of songs was great. but than Simon wanted Dewyze to win and what Simon wants Simons get. look at it this way. we won't have him trying to move the count next year. good out of 10 winner only two have made it to the top. kelly and Carrie. the rest our louser just like Simon.

    May 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. GetReal

    Who knew Forbes was so ignorant? Big bucks don't come only from album sales. Ever heard of iTunes downloads? TV appearances? Product sponsorship?

    May 27, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    It's over. People will watch, but as long as they keep picking winners who can't write a song, then these singers will go nowhere. Ask yourself if Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, or Roy Orbison would have made it on this show. Of course not - their voices are too idiosyncratic, they can't do the karaoke versions that American Idol requires. It's not art, it's product. Take a stand, don't buy this junk.

    May 27, 2010 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. 53Champ

    Lee's earning after 5 years in the business Oh I would say about $17.

    May 27, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jaytelle

    Forbes doesn't have access to these people's tax returns. It's wild guesses at best, or maybe false information fed by the American Idol people to enhance some of these artists images. And by the way, since you made it a point to single out Taylor Hicks for ridicule, it was just reported that he made $3.5 million over the last 18 months. (Google the article "Taylor Hicks is laughing all the way to the bank")

    Thanks for nothing Forbes, you once recommended Enron stock too.

    May 27, 2010 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. frogmann

    only watched about 5 episodes this season, which doesn't include last night's finale. it was a boring season. maybe next season will be better.

    May 27, 2010 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dr. Mabuse

    Zack: Uhh, Freddie Mercury is dead.

    May 27, 2010 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff

    All idol is now is a tv show. Turn out singers even though the public doesn't really want them. I have not watched since season #1. They should do the show every 3-5 years. It sucks.

    May 27, 2010 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
  13. Brenda Reed

    Am I the only person in the whole United States who is completely, thoroughly filled up with so-called "reality" shows?

    May 27, 2010 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Quinn

      No you aren't I don't get the lastest interest with television producers and reality shows!

      May 27, 2010 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. zack

    I agree with Michael. There is zero orignality in any of the winners....just another can of coke for the masses. Love live Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. Michael

    The fact of the matter is, American Idol is structured to produce contestants and winners that mimic other artists the best. This results in the most mediocre and vanilla-sounding, unoriginal sounding music ever. I honestly believe that American Idol is the worst thing to ever happen to pop music. Why do you think there are never any great long-term bands on the charts anymore? Everything just sounds like everything else.

    May 26, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Will, Jr.

    Adam Lambert???????????????

    May 26, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  17. tanya

    Kris allen and jennifer hudson and both of the david's are on the list what are people talking about

    May 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  18. JW

    I think Carrie and Kelly will probably never be topped as they are maga-stars, but Bill is correct, all the others haven't had time to build up a fan base or following so I think that should be taken into account some how. Whats funny is if you sold just 300k copies at $10 a pop your still looking at a decent chunck of change regardless of what happens down the road.....

    May 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • dungbeetle

      Let's try this again.

      Uh, no. Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson. There’s your talent. And they were successful right out of the gate. The rest, as has been shown, are not up to it. Enough with the nonsense. Pick some people, audience, who actually have talent.

      May 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Cynthia La Monica

    Are we only speaking about album sails? What about Jennifer Hudson who is successful as an actress as well as a singer?

    May 26, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • k8edid

      Which part of "top Idol earners" did you not understand? Yes, album sales (not sails), concert tickets sold, anything that added to the bank account, which includes Jennifer Hudson's pay from the movies she's done. (She may not have earned as much money, but she sure has had great success!)

      May 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      The are talking about this year. Nobody can touch her success, but as far as money for this year, she isn't at the top...

      May 26, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Roger from Mtl

    Ummmm..and Adam Lambert did not make the list? Ya ok...Kris Allen has sold less albums and made less appearances on TV...there is a flaw in this list. And I'm surprised that Fantasia is no where on there either.

    May 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Smoke A Choke

    How many smoke smoke smoke lol

    May 26, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Bill F

    The comparison isn't really accurate. Forbes is comparing the 2008-2009 earnings of each Idol person. Some have been recording for several years. It would have been more accurate to compare each one's first year earnings. David Cook and others haven't had time to build up their fan base and song book unlike Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and others.

    May 26, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • dungbeetle

      Uh, no. Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson. There’s your talent. And they were successful right out of the gate. The rest, as has been shown, are not up to it. Enough with the nonsense. Pick some people, audience, who actually have talent.

      May 26, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  23. TB

    I know there will be people that will freak out by me saying this, but it is so much easier to be successful doing country music because you just have to look beautiful and have a decent voice. Very few country artists even have to write any of their own music for their albums. They MIGHT write 2 0r 3 songs on an album and the rest are purchased for them by their record label for them to record. Most other music genres have artists who must write most of their own songs. Example, a few years back I was looking at the liner notes of a Tim McGraw CD and noticed that he didn't even have a co-writing credit on any of the 16 songs on his album!

    May 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Frank

    Simon correctly forecast that Carrie would be the most successful Idol...and she's proving him right. Besides the ones mentioned above, I think David Cook's a very talented singer. He may not have the star power of some of the others, but he's really good.

    May 26, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Actually, Kelly still ranks as the most successful Idol. Carrie made more money in the last year, but Billboard released a report about a month ago that said Kelly Clarkson is, overall, the most successful Idol. Carrie isn't far behind, though, and most likely will pass Kelly in the near future.

      May 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  25. GinaC

    Taylor Hicks Is Laughing All The Way to the Bank

    May 26, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |

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