‘The Voice’: Here’s What It Means to Win a Contract on the Show

by Leanne Stahulak
(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for NBC)

Many of the contestants who compete on “The Voice” do it because they want to share their talent with the world. But the $100,000 prize and recording contract doesn’t hurt either.

That’s the grand prize for winning a season of the popular singing competition. For the last 21 seasons, we’ve watched world-class acts take “The Voice” stage and walk away with the prize money and contract with Universal Music Group in hand. But according to Looper, all that glitters isn’t necessarily gold for these winners.

The outlet reports that every year, the winner signs a different contract with Universal. They get the record label, but their contract differs “based on their own circumstances and musical styles.” Meaning, there’s no comprehensive set-up or specific timeline to dictate how each artist releases their music.

This works well for some winners of “The Voice,” but not all of them. For Sundance Head, the Season 11 winner, two years passed from the show’s end to his album release.

“’The Voice’ has done a million great things for me; I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t on that show. So I’m grateful to have the opportunity,” Head told The Washington Post in 2019.

But, he added, “It’s really depressing to come from such an accolade like winning ‘The Voice’ to a place where you’re not getting anywhere. For me, it’s taken two years to be able to get the correct support system behind me to be able to release this record nationally.”

Former ‘The Voice’ Contestant Breaks Down Difficulties With Record Contract

Mere days after he won “The Voice,” Sundance Head met with Republic Records, a Universal-owned brand. They talked about his debut record. Head hired a manager and music lawyer to help make a deal with Republic Records. Eventually, they settled on releasing a single in the next seven months. Otherwise, Head would be free to walk away from the contract.

“During that period of time, we’re going to be digging, trying to come up with songs for the record, writing songs, meeting with songwriters, co-writing and trying to figure out what to do, what’s the next step,” Head said.

While trying to write this single, Head kept his “momentum” going by touring with his “The Voice” coach, Blake Shelton. But when the tour wrapped up, Head and the Republic executives couldn’t agree on a single to release.

“I wanted to make a record I could really get behind rather than just throw a single out to stay relevant,” Head shared. Republic Records ended up releasing him from his contract. “It was very affable, and they were very polite about it,” he said.

But that left Head right back where he started: Struggling to make music professionally on his own. While “The Voice” provided the opportunity for Head and others to sign with these record labels, sometimes the label or terms just weren’t a good fit.