How Simon Cowell screws over reality show contestants with bad deals and awful work conditions

I have covered this topic with different angles to my previous article which was very well received last November following my tweets from @MarkBoardmanUK. I also did an interview for No Stunts Magazine, so if you missed either post, I highly recommend you take a look online and see what else was covered before though I’m sure you are very informed as to the good and the bad in most industries, nothing stinks more than the world of showbiz behind the scenes, or at least in some parts.

This is more of a reminder to anyone working in any job thinking you are being bullied, unfairly treated, and espeically to any person wanting to work or is currently working in media, from tv to singing, dancing, radio, to backing singers etc…Just be wary as to what you sign, and ensure you have someone you can turn too for advice before you later regret that mistake and losing artistic control, rights to your work or just being mis-treated with the chance of fame and fortune.

It can be very glitzy working as a creator, actor, model etc but I see so many people who work for free, or as interns (same thing) to a degree and it’s sickening. This has to stop! We pay a minimum rate of £125 for a 8 hour day here at MarkMeets and have 17 freelancers who contribute each month. This is not a promo but simply to state how easy it is to offer a fair deal and treat people well, with protection and safeguarding for all.

From the training, support, mentoring, and media introductions I do on a weekly basis, I am happy when people reach out for guidance (as there are alot of people across the UK and the globe who want fame) and will sadly do anything to get there, and very often it can be short lived, but many people over the years specifically with a talent IE performing, dancing, singing etc have had terrible experiences through a variety of TV shows, namely (Pop Idol, American Idol, The X Factor, American Inventor, America’s Got Talent, Celebrity Duets, and Britain’s Got Talent), specifically at the helm amongst others is Simon Cowell who recently said that his life was work but who was he working for, himself or his talent?

I have met, interviewed, become friends with many stars over the years but not all have a great experience, espeically if they “came from reality shows”. Whilst a number who made it to the live music and talent shows finals already had fame and or a career in the industry years before but there is a label / a stigma and ‘You’re a commodity; you are as good as the money you’re going to make them. That is it.’

So many contestants appear to be un-networked, knowing very few people within the industry as everything is done for them, they become reliant on the power and strings of record labels, and management as a sole source of income as they have contracts that prohibit them from other work.

What if you were paid £250,000 and your boss took £2m. What if you were controlled with little contact from the outside world, were told who you could or not date or could not control your own career. Is this right? No amount of money can salvage a career if you are pushed out by tastemakers and moves, but improving welfare for newcomers, implementing change, and making the industry a great one again is imperative so major changes a re needed and now.

Personally I am now in a position where I no longer have to do free work for PR’s or such like, but for years it was required of me and the deals and agreements I had to do early on in my media career were very one-sided, but now I am helping others in everyway I can if I know how to, and it’s on my terms (at no cost to anyone who needs it, as usually there is little cash for support available but budding talent for services like honest managers, good pr, promoters or to access anyone who is not inside the record labels small circle.

No doubt moguls are powerful, charming (when required), rich and clever. Cowell has even made money from ‘performing’ on many of the tracks he is associated with by playing the triangle, to tapping a tambourine, and even shaken a shaker on his artists’ records including Westlife songs for a share of music royalities.

Leona Lewis has admitted to feeling ‘trapped’ at Simon Cowell label Syco and she is not alone. The likes of Katie Waissel, Rebecca Ferguson, Jedward and many others from X Factor have had great careers (some before tv stardom), often now they have families and remain proud of their achievements, and still have a great future ahead of them in their chosen fields, but how much of a better position could they have found themselves in?. Could they have been managed better, and treated as adults. HELL YEAH!!

Constant breachs of duty of care, long hours, commiting to awful deals, getting paid peanuts and so on, it can no longer be acceptable, and this comes through a variety of measures being put in place from leglisation, to better contract terms for people, to more regulation, introduction of a powerful and independant authority to hold those rule breakers to account, besides more work on mental health, managing of online abuse, money management and so much more basics as a duty of care.

Simon Cowell, the infamous music mogul and television personality, is no stranger to controversy. In recent years, numerous reports have emerged detailing how Cowell and his production companies have treated contestants on his popular reality show, “The X Factor,” with bad deals and terrible work conditions.

From low wages and grueling schedules to one-sided contracts and lack of creative control, to NDA’s, pr cover-ups, golden handshakes to shady going’s on account wise from charity work being offered for free by talent (with managment still charging) the client and walking out with a bag of cash. Cowell’s treatment of X Factor contestants has been called into question by many. Here are some of the ways that Cowell has screwed over X Factor contestants over the years.

Low Wages

Despite being one of the most popular and profitable reality shows on television, X Factor contestants are often paid very little for their time and effort. According to reports, contestants can earn as little as £150 ($210) per week, despite the fact that they are required to work long hours, often performing and rehearsing for up to 16 hours a day.

In comparison, Cowell himself reportedly earns around £50 million ($70 million) per year, highlighting the stark imbalance of power and wealth between the contestants and the show’s producers.

One-Sided Contracts

Another way that Cowell has screwed over X Factor contestants is through one-sided contracts that heavily favor the show’s producers. According to reports, contestants are often required to sign away all their rights to their music, image, and likeness, meaning that they have little control over their own careers and are at the mercy of the show’s producers.

Furthermore, contestants are often required to sign contracts that give Cowell and his production companies a significant percentage of their earnings, even after they leave the show. This has resulted in many former X Factor contestants struggling to make a living, despite having achieved significant success on the show.

Lack of Creative Control

One of the most significant ways that Cowell has screwed over X Factor contestants is through his insistence on maintaining tight control over the show’s creative direction. According to reports, Cowell has a heavy hand in deciding what songs contestants will sing, how they will perform, and even what they will wear.

This lack of creative control has resulted in many X Factor contestants feeling frustrated and disempowered, with some even claiming that they were forced to sing songs that they didn’t like or that didn’t suit their style or voice.

Grueling Schedules

Finally, Cowell’s treatment of X Factor contestants has been called into question due to the grueling schedules that they are required to adhere to. According to reports, contestants often work long hours, with some claiming that they were required to rehearse and perform for up to 16 hours a day.

This has resulted in some X Factor contestants suffering from exhaustion, stress, and burnout, with many struggling to keep up with the demanding schedule imposed by the show’s producers.

In conclusion, Simon Cowell’s treatment of X Factor contestants has been widely criticized in recent years, with many calling for greater transparency, fairness, and respect for the contestants who help to make the show a success. While Cowell’s influence on the music industry cannot be denied, it is clear that his methods have caused significant harm to many aspiring singers and performers, who have been left feeling exploited and undervalued by their experiences on the show.

What is Simon Cowell’s net worth?

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Simon Cowell is worth a staggering $600 million, or around £496 million in British currency.

Author Profile

Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman is an established showbiz journalist and freelance copywriter whose work has been published in Business Insider, Daily Mail, Bloomberg, MTV, Buzzfeed and The New York Post amongst other press. Often spotted on the red carpet at celebrity events and film screenings, Mark is a regular guest on BBC Radio London and in-demand for his opinions for media outlets including Newsweek. His TV credits include This Morning, The One Show and T4. Email

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