4 ‘American Idol’ Winners Who Parted Ways With Their Label

So many winners have found fame by appearing on American Idol. Many winners and fan favorites have been signed to major labels after departing the long-running singing competition show. However, some of them chose to leave their labels for a number of reasons. Let’s look at a few examples of American Idol winners who parted ways with their labels at some point.

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1. Caleb Johnson

This beloved Season 13 winner left Interscope Records almost a decade ago. At the time, Johnson was a busy guy. He was in the middle of a headlining tour, just released a new music video, and was working on his second album.

Johnson spoke with Billboard about the move to find a new label after ending his contract with Interscope. 

“[I want to] get a deal with a new label that’s actually going to support me,” he said. “I want to find the right home and the right team of people that are going to get behind my music and really do something. What’s the point of doing it if the [label] isn’t going to do anything?”

 Johnson eventually opted to create his own label, Big Johnson Records.

2. Samantha Diaz

23-year-old Samantha Diaz (a.k.a. Just Sam) won Season 18 of American Idol back in 2020. They scored a deal with Hollywood Records, but didn’t end up releasing music under the label. In fact, they had to pay a pretty penny to get their music back.

“I’m not even going to tell you guys the amount of money that I had to pay after leaving the label to claim songs that I already recorded,” Diaz said. “And I invested in myself and ended up broke. That’s the truth.”

Diaz went on to release several singles, but eventually had to return to busking in New York City as they had before winning Idol. Luckily, Diaz signed with CrowdMGMT and got a new agent in 2023 They even performed a Whitney Houston cover on Idol in 2024.

3. David Cook

This Season 7 American Idol winner was signed to RCA Records upon his triumphant win, but the partnership didn’t last forever. In 2012, he announced that he was “without a record deal” and was self-releasing music to test the waters as an independent artist.

“It just felt like the time to try something different,” he told Hollywood Reporter. “I love the creative control, so we’re going to self-release and see what happens from there.”

He had some charting success as an indie artist, though he did release some music through XIX Recordings and his own label, Analog Heart Music.

[Get Tickets To See David Cook Live In 2024]

4. Noah Thompson

Season 20 winner Noah Thompson just recently parted ways with his label, 19 Recordings. Fans were understandably worried, but Thompson took to social media to assure his fans that he isn’t going anywhere.

“I have chosen to continue my career as an independent artist,” Thompson said on Instagram. “I feel like I’ve been writing some of the best songs of my career, and I really can’t wait for ya’ll to hear some of those new things that I’ve been working on.”

Photo via a press release for David Cook

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