Does American Idol pay for contestants to go to Hollywood?

(Disney/Eric McCandless)
(Disney/Eric McCandless) /

It’s a dream come true to make it on American Idol, one of the most popular television competition shows out there for aspiring singers! The series is a great opportunity for those looking to become the next Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood (check out what they and the rest of the contestant are doing now here!). Breaking into the industry and getting that exposure is the first step to getting your foot in the door.

* Check out the Top 24 contestants of American Idol season 22, with 20 of them heading to Hollywood on April 14, 2024, and how to vote them in *

And while it’s a great opportunity, viewers may not be aware of everything that happens behind the scenes. American Idol has rules and eligibility requirements. Contestants also need to think about their bank accounts before deciding to audition.

(Disney/Eric McCandless) /

Who pays for American Idol contestants to go to Hollywood?

American Idol does cover travel and housing expenses for those who go to Hollywood, which is the Top 20. They receive a small budget for other expenses, as well as money for fashion so they can pick out outfits when they perform on stage. But anything that goes over the $450 they receive for clothing needs to be paid out of pocket. However those who make it to Hollywood Week after the auditions, which is before the Top 20, do not get an allowance.

Once at Hollywood, it’s only the top 10 who get paid for their time per episode. According to Fox Business, contestants receive $1,571 plus meals for two-hour shows and $1,303 for one-hour shows. When the competition series used to do half-hour results shows, contestants would get $910 for their time.

Those just looking to audition need to make sure they’re financially ready. Even though it’s free, if you don’t live in the city where auditions take place then aspiring singers are fully responsible for travel and accommodation expenses.

It can be a hefty expense for contestants, but if they make it far it can be worth it. From a network’s point of view it does make sense that they don’t pay for everything. The show gives the contestants time and exposure on TV. While the goal of course is to win, getting that time in front of the camera may give them the opportunity to be scouted by someone else too (check out our list of famous contestants who didn't win, here!).

American Idol 2024 airs new episodes Sunday and Monday nights on ABC. Episodes are also available to stream on Hulu the next day.

Next. A full list of American Idol winners: Where are they now?. A full list of American Idol winners: Where are they now?. dark