American Idol finalists may have “reached the point of diminishing returns”

With 82 American Idol finalists now, fewer are getting record deals with major labels, and even those who have signed deals and sold records–like the winners and runners-up, primarily–sales drop off rapidly after their first album. That prompts USA TODAY’s Ken Barnes to suggest that “for all but the elite Idols, the gravy train has reached its final destination.”

Of the 12 American Idol 7 finalists besides the final two (David Cook and David Archuleta), “only Kristy Lee has been signed to a major label, and her album fell off the charts in two weeks and may have a shot at reaching 20,000 copies sold when Wednesday’s figures are released,” Barnes reports.

Especially compared to season five’s strong group of finalists, at least half of whom found some measure of success, season six and season seven groups have fallen flat, and Barnes crunches those numbers.

As to the finalists and runners-up, with the notable exception of Kelly Clarkson, they have seen their second album sales drop significantly, which Barnes says means “the public at large will not stay as interested and the artist’s audience will be reduced to hardcore fans.”

Have we reached the Idol saturation point? [USA TODAY]