Adam Lambert Walks Away from RCA Contract After Label Demands 80’s Covers Album

Adam Lambert has walked away from his contract with RCA records after the label demanded an 80's covers album, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

LambertThe singer is walking away from his RCA contract after two full length albums, 2012's Trespassing and 2009's For Your Entertainment, along with several EPs and a live collection — all issued by the Sony Music label.

Lambert revealed the news in a letter to THR…In it, Lambert notes "the oft-cited 'creative differences'" as they related to his next project, stating: "my heart is simply not in doing a covers album." To the contrary, Lambert adds that he's "deep into writing new material with some very talented colleagues," which will surely delight his audience of diehards.

The "evolution" continues, he says. "This music is where my heart is." But it won't be at RCA, where a typical American Idol recording contract stipulates that the artist and the label be on the same page creatively.

THR has a full letter from Lambert.

It was recently revealed by creator Ryan Murphy that Lambert would be joining the cast of season five of Glee.


  1. says

    A cover is recording a song first originally recorded and released by another artist. So the label wanted Lambert to do an album of songs originally released in the 80’s.

  2. says

    @RONTEX – I agree he looks much better without the makeup.

    And as much as I love 80s music, I generally think covers are best left to unknown/unsigned artists as a way to showcase their talent and attract attention from a bigger audience than their original music would get them on its own.

    Can’t honestly say I’m a fan, but I respect his musical ability and believe Adam is far beyond the point in his career where it would be useful (or even very entertaining) to release covers of other people’s hits. If he’s REALLY into the 80s or any other particular era, Glee should give him more than adequate outlet for expressing it.

  3. Chris says

    An 80s cover album? Did they really think that would do well? My first thought was that they asked him to do that in order to get him to walk away from the contract…

  4. Mitch says

    A covers album suggests that RCA doesn’t have confidence that Lambert has sufficient talent or a large enough fan base to make an album of original music and make that album profitable. Perhaps RCA suggested such an album because they knew Lambert would balk and walk. Well played RCA.

  5. Josh says

    This is exactly what happened to Cyndi Lauper. Her record company pretty much forced her to do remakes of old songs. Epic Records wanted for her to do a oldies album, she instead released “Merry Christmas Have A Nice Life” in response to the record company’s efforts. After that her music stop getting promotion at all.

  6. Melissa says

    Who the heck is working at RCA these days? Dropping the worst single on Trespassing during the Christmas season? I’ve never, ever heard anyone releasing a single during that time. It was unfair to Adam. Then they release the second one with no promo, and very, very little radio play. Adam don’t walk, run.

  7. Jj says

    I got his last album on a whim and it was surprisingly great (much better than the first one). Worked with some talented writers and producers (including Pharrell). It def wasn’t promoted properly, the song Cuckoo was a radio hit and wasn’t even released as a single. This was the right decision. He’s the rare type of artist that will have a full career in entertainment no matter which avenue he goes down.

  8. Strepsi says

    PRO: He is better of following his muse and his last album was great. They did mis-handle it — with proper marketing it should have been Top 20 album with at least 2 Top 10 hits,.

    CON: I would have bought the 80’s album :s

  9. Jerry says

    Um, just because the pic is in black and whit does NOT mean he isn’t wearing make up. I’ve been a professional artist for 22yrs, let me assure you that he is wearing make up and that all men and women and boys and girls who are on tv or in photographs are wearing it.

  10. AJ says

    Yeah. He has a pound of makeup on in that pic. LOL. Lots of luck to him. I think he will be successful at whatever it is he does, whether it’s music or Broadway. I just hope he doesn’t make any other cheesy appearances as himself on “Pretty Little Liars”.

  11. Steve M says

    A record contract requires the artist to release a certain number of albums, typically 3-5. The label has the sole option to pay the artist to leave. Adam did not walk away from RCA, they dumped him. That said, label management teams are fairly uncreative, risk-adverse, and don’t know what to do with unique artists. I hope he finds a new label with a grasp on the current market.

  12. Fell's Angel says

    Earth to RCA: This 80s cover album was already released last year. It was called “Rock of Ages: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”. And yes it was pretty damn DOA stinky. Just because Adam’s voice is pitch perfect to knock these out of the park doesn’t mean it should be done = Uncreative Low Hanging Fruit Money Grab. [Savvy and classy move, Mr. Lambert]

  13. CHRISTOPHER I says

    I like Adam (I enjoy his recorded voice far more than his live voice, which I find nasal). He is very talented, and I agree that while both good albums, neither was quite the same caliber as his contemporaries’. There were missed opportunities for singles (“Fever,” “Cuckoo” and “Naked Love” spring to mind), but most were solid songs that would not play on Top 40 radio (“Soaked” is an incredible Bond Theme, and tracks like “Broken Open” and “Outlaws of Love” are luscious but too slow for radio).

    I support this move creatively, but find it a little odd that he’s turning down a covers album while signing up for a role on GLEE, where he will undoubtedly be recording an album’s worth of covers…

  14. Thomas says

    I distinctly remember Cyndi Lauper saying that she too left her record label because they wanted her to do an album of 80’s cover songs. Who is telling these record labels that consumers are gaging for 80’s covers? So strange. But it worked out for Cyndi, she released a brilliant Blues album and won a Tony. Lets hope Adam can find success.

  15. Crasher says

    So let me see if I have this correct. Just after Adam signs to join the cast of Glee, a show which is comprised almost solely of cover songs, he chooses to walk away from his recording contract because RCA wanted him to record an album of cover songs? Something seems fishy. I bet RCA dumped him. Too bad. Given the right songs and right producers, he could have a solid future. Good luck to him.

  16. IAN F says

    in a fairer world Adam would be much more successful. His last album had some some songs on it that should have been singles (done with Pharrell an Nile Rogers who are having a resurgence) but RCA had him record some insipid songs at the last minute that adam didn’t help write then failed to support them. He was probably furious. Also, radio and out gay men never seems to happen so maybe RCA knew this and thought he wasn’t worth it if radio wont play him.

    RCA is a talent killer. They are safe and risk adverse. When Adam first came off Idol there was an assumption that he would be huge because he really did seem like he had the it factor plus the talents to back it up. He just needed a few good singles and promotion. RCA gave him safe boring singles when people expected him to be more exiting.

    Adam may never make it big but i’m guessing he’s pretty happy to get away from these guys regardless of the circumstance surrounding the split.

  17. jjose712 says

    RCA didn’t handle well the two first eras. There was a lot of buzz about Adam after Idol, and they killed it with Time for miracles and For your entertaiment. The first was just a nonsense, why send to itunes a song that you don’t have any intention to promote, and the second was just too explicit to begin a career on mainstream. Fortunately for him, Whataya want from me save the day.
    On both albums were several songs (Sleepwalker, Cukoo) wich were clearly singles, but RCA keep releasing songs wich weren’t the best suited for success, or not releasing anything at all (there’s really no reason for not releasing Sleepwalker after If i had you went top 20 on radio).

    I’m not against covers, or even an album of covers, but that must be a project of the artist and not of the label. Something personal, and probably after a lot more original albums.

    He is still popular, and with his appearence on Glee, i’m pretty sure he’ll get enough exposure to find another label, once that really believe in his talent.

    It’s sad how badly most idol careers are handle, no matter how talented is the guy (or girl), for the label they are nothing more than another talent show contestant to exploit for a couple of years. Only breaking big can change that, or not, because it’s known that Kelly Clarkson had a lot of differences and fight with her label too.

    In my opinion Adam only needs a little change, probably a toned down image, maybe only for the video (in my opinion he looks way better without make up, but that’s him and i respect that) and a ballad as single (people loved his ballads on idol), and he will do fine on radio (the success of Same love could be only the beginning of a less conservative pop radio). A hit could open the door for his more dancey songs

  18. Andrew says

    Well done Adam! I prefer an artist to do what they want and not the ‘safe road’. I’m a fan and ‘For Your Entertainment’ went platinum in Aus, thanks to Whatdaya want from Me? and If I had You which went double platinum. Unfortunately radio ignored him on the second album which did reach #10. Never Close our Eyes is a great track which radio just seemed to never play.

  19. Paulie says

    RCA’s side of the story is that they weren’t keen internally on the Trespassing album so they decided to scale back promotion of it. Unbelievable, but true. They did the same to Kelly Clarkson with her My December album.

  20. Adam says

    Adam has had it tough. His initial success on the charts has petered out. The music industry is generally hostile to openly gay or bisexual male singers. You will find more openly gay or bi guys at a Pat Robertson house party than on the music charts.

    In the long term, female consumers won’t buy from men like Adam.

  21. nick says

    Sorry, I don’t think that is how it happened. I think he was dropped from RCA when his split with 19 recordings was made public, he was licensed to RCA through them- and all of this is just an elaborate ruse to make him look like he wasn’t dropped by the label.

  22. don't a tell la says

    “A covers album suggests that RCA doesn’t have confidence that Lambert has sufficient talent or a large enough fan base to make an album of original music and make that album profitable. Perhaps RCA suggested such an album because they knew Lambert would balk and walk. Well played RCA.”

    thanks Mitch

  23. Steven says

    So he refuses to make an 80’s covers album and yet he’s on his way to GLEE, where he’ll be doing…80s covers!

    The likely story here is that Sony wouldn’t allow him to record for the GLEE albums (on another label), so he walked.

  24. Billy Crytical says

    He made the best decision. A covers album would have killed his career and that’s what the record company wants. Record companies only want acts for their first albums because usually that one is the most profitable. I hope he signs to a new company that can really promote his music.

  25. Phyllis says

    So many great songs on Trespassing that were not promoted at all. Zero from RCA, so glad Mr. Lambert is running from that label. And what I hear is that RCA refused to promote Adam’s original music–instead they insisted on releasing the the throw away (Never Close Our Eyes)written (and dumped) by Bruno Mars. The song “Shady” is a masterpiece written by Adam and done with the Great Nile Rodgers. “Kickin In” is another fabulous song Adam wrote with Pharrel Williams. RCA dropped the ball. If Adam Lambert were to do 80’s music, it will be as front man for Queen. His concerts with Queen last year–totally ignored by his label–were fabulous. And RCA has never recognized Mr. Lambert’s incredible work with LGBT youth through the Trevor Project. Looking forward to seeing him use that magical vocal ability on Glee.

  26. dms says

    They guy has an amazing voice, but as far as I can tell, he’s never had a mainstream hit single or album. The record company is not a charity–think of it as an employer. Do you tell your employer you don’t want to do certain things? So fine, he doesn’t want to do an 80’s album and walked. That’s his right. Maybe it’s the best path for both parties. Personally, I hope that he finds a way to sing music that is more soulful, original and takes advantage of his amazing gift.

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