‘Idol’ Reality Check

For all of those “American Idol” hopefuls who think just making it into the Top 10 alone could launch their careers, think again. When the cameras stop rolling for the season, that’s when the real hustling begins.

Many “Idol” runners-up have found it hard to transfer that popularity into record sales – much less a recording deal – once the TV exposure and national summer tour come to an end, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“One of the interesting things about ‘American Idol’ is that it really serves as a fantastic farm club for talent,” Jeff Rabhan, longtime artist manager and chairman of NYU’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, told the Times. “But the game doesn’t stop when the curtain drops or even when you’re holding the trophy. That’s when it starts.”

Rabhan also said it’s best for runners-up to get a record out as fast as possible after the “Idol” experience has ended.

However, Jason Castro, fourth-place finisher in 2008, chose a more calculated timeline. He signed a 360 deal with Atlantic Records a year ago and his self-titled debut album was just released in April.

“It’s just a fact that only so many Idols can release music each year on a major label,” Castro told the Times. “On the business end, there aren’t the resources for every Top 10 person to do it.”

And many “Idol” runners-up have found career-boosting gigs on the Broadway stage including Constantine Maroulis, Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo. Speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate event performances are a few of the other options to keep the cash flowing, the paper said.

The most well-known exception to the life after “Idol” scenario is Jennifer Hudson, who finished in seventh place in 2004.

Hudson has since earned an Academy Award for her supporting role in the 2006 film “Dreamgirls” and a Grammy Award for her self-titled debut album in 2008.