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‘American Idol’ Winner & Runner-Up Both Have Label Deals: Exclusive

American Idol winner Trent Harmon will embark on a country music career as an artist on 19/Big Machine Records, Billboard has confirmed.

American Idol winner Trent Harmon will embark on a country music career as an artist on 19/Big Machine Records, Billboard has confirmed.

And unlike recent seasons, when the runner-up has not necessarily been offered a label deal, La’Porsha Renae will also be joining the Universal Music Group family, signing with 19/Big Machine/Motown Records, in partnership with Big Machine. 

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“Because of the overwhelming fan demand and success of the farewell season of American Idol, we have made the decision to sign both the winner, Trent Harmon, and runner-up, La’Porsha Renae, to exclusive recording agreements,” Big Machine Label Group founder and CEO Scott Borchetta tells Billboard. “I can’t think of a better way to bring this American institution to a close. Everyone at the Big Machine Label Group, the Universal Music Group and Motown Records are so thrilled with the outcome and can’t wait to get to work.”

Harmon, the 25-year-old Mississippi native who won the hearts of TV viewers with a game-changing performance of Sia‘s “Chandelier,” is headed to Nashville as soon as his Idol appearance obligations are done. “We’re going to make a country record with him,” Borchetta told reporters Wednesday night.

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Renae’s album will be overseen by Ethiopia Habtemariam, president of Motown and president of urban music/co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group, who tells Billboard, “We are extremely excited to partner with Big Machine and 19 Entertainment on such an incredible talent as La’Porsha.”

The deals were orchestrated by 19 Entertainment executive vp/worldwide head of music Jason Morey, who adds, “American Idol has always been about the search for a superstar. This season, America helped us find two. We’re ecstatic to welcome these world-class artists to the 19 Entertainment family.”

No word yet on when the top two’s albums might be released, but as Borchetta recently explained to Billboard, “The music comes out when it’s ready. … Neither Big Machine nor 19 want to put out a piece of product.”

Update: Later on finale night, Borchetta told reporters he envisions Harmon’s debut as “for lack of a better term, that Justin Timberlake country record. Justin ain’t going to make it, so we are.”

Jason Morey, Trent Harmon, La'Porsha Renae and Scott Borchetta backstage before the American Idol finale on April 7, 2016.
Jason Morey, Trent Harmon, La'Porsha Renae and Scott Borchetta backstage before the American Idol finale on April 7, 2016. Jaymi McClusky