Looks like the folks over at Sony BMG — the mega-label that serves as the parent company to Arista, Columbia, Epic, J Records, RCA and others — are cleaning house. While such a move would typically mean widespread layoffs, it seems that this time, the company is shedding artists.
Actually, make that artists who have competed on "American Idol."
Within the last three weeks, Sony BMG has reportedly severed ties with three former "Idol" contestants — the most recent being season-five runner-up Katharine McPhee, whose sole eponymous effort for the label, which dropped in late 2006, has sold only 365,500-plus copies since its release.
While McPhee's dismissal has yet to be officially confirmed by RCA Records, a source confirmed the parting to Entertainment Weekly on Wednesday. A spokesperson for McPhee could not be reached by press time.
Just last week, season-five victor Taylor Hicks was dumped by J Records, in what was described as a "mutual" split. Hicks wrote on his MySpace page that "artistic freedom and control [was] an exciting prospect" for him, and that he's begun writing tracks for his next release, which, according to The Associated Press, he'll be recording independent of any label. Hicks' self-titled debut has scanned nearly 700,000 copies since first it hit stores in 2006; it was the first album from an "Idol" winner that failed to reach the 1 million sold mark.
Late last year, "American Idol" season-two champ Ruben Studdard was also chopped from the J Records roster, following a poor showing for his 2006 LP, The Return, which, to date, has sold 236,000 units.
So, what does the future hold for McPhee, who recently made the leap from songstress-to-actress with her turn as a pregnant hippie in the upcoming comedy "I Know What Boys Like"? No one knows for sure, but it might not be a bad idea for her to concentrate on beefing up those acting chops. McPhee is also starring in the dark romantic comedy "The Last Caller," as a narcissistic woman searching for love, and will be featured in the forthcoming indie film "Success."