Country music singer Laine Hardy stunned fans with an announcement posted on social media late on October 19, 2022, revealing that he has parted ways with Disney and 19 Entertainment, with whom he signed his record deal after winning season 17 of “American Idol” in 2019. But Hardy’s not the only “Idol” alum to part ways with that label group in recent months. Here’s the latest…
Laine Hardy Issues Statement About Moving in a ‘New Direction’
Hardy first appeared on “American Idol” in season 16 but was cut during Hollywood Week. He then returned to support a friend who was auditioning for season 17, and the judges convinced him to try out again. He went on to win the entire competition.
In a statement posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts, the 22-year-old country music singer shared his gratitude for the experiences and support his label had provided since his “Idol” win.
He wrote, “I was just 17 years old when I first tried out for American Idol, and at the time, I couldn’t have ever imagined where I was headed. Since then, I’ve been able to tour across America, play for our Troops in Asia, and make new fans in Europe. I had to grow up quickly and I am still learning more about myself every day.”
Hardy continued, “The teams at 19 Entertainment and Disney Music Group have given me so much support and guidance, and I will forever be grateful. And now it’s time for me to take my career in a new direction and I am figuring that out. Stay tuned for what’s coming next. Love y’all.”
It’s likely Hardy has been figuring out how to deliver this news to fans. After recently sharing excerpts of songs he recorded during songwriting sessions in Nashville, the Louisiana native posted a snippet of a song and a message to fans in his Instagram Stories late on October 18. He wrote, “can’t wait to release some of these for y’all one day…thank you for being patient…going to post something in a few days!”
Given that the record label announcement came just 24 hours later, fans are hoping there may be another announcement coming about Hardy’s plans for moving forward, whether as an independent artist or with a new label.
It’s not clear whether the label ended the relationship or if it was a mutual decision, but other “Idol” contestants have been dropped by the label recently.
Alejandro Aranda, who came in second behind Hardy on season 17, recently lost his record deal with 19 Entertainment and is now touring as an independent artist. Hardy’s friend and occasional “Idol” duet partner Laci Kaye Booth announced in early October that she’d been “dropped” by 19 Recordings, too, and is figuring out how to navigate her career without a record contract. Season 16 winner Maddie Poppe lost her deal with the label in 2020, which she said left her “shook.”
Hardy’s Music Career Has Been Full of Unexpected Twists
As part of his prize package for winning “American Idol,” Hardy received $250,000 and a record contract with 19 Entertainment and Disney’s Hollywood Records. Disney owns ABC, the broadcast home of “American Idol.”
Hardy’s first single was “Flame,” which was written for him to sing when he won “American Idol.” The song reached No. 1 on the iTunes Rock Chart and No. 2 overall.
After visiting with family following his big win, he went to work developing his debut album with songwriting sessions in Nashville. But recording sessions, promotions, and a planned tour got postponed due to the pandemic. He did release two songs in April 2020 — “Ground I Grew Up On” and “Let There Be Country,” but told The Advocate he would hone his craft as a songwriter before releasing more. Hardy conducted a few virtual acoustic shows and Q&A fan sessions from his family’s kitchen in Livingston, Louisiana, but didn’t release his full debut record until the fall of 2021.
After finally releasing the album, “Here’s To Anyone,” Hardy’s career seemed to be back on track as he made multiple major TV appearances, performed in the Rose Bowl parade, and appeared at the Grand Old Opry. He also partnered with season 17 castmate Booth in April 2022 to record a duet for the 20th anniversary “American Idol” reunion show.
The duet aired in early May, but was overshadowed by the fact that on April 29, Hardy had been arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after “a woman and her roommate found a recording device inside their dorm room” at Louisiana State University, according to USA Today. The outlet reported he was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for “interception and disclosure of wire, electronic or oral communication” and released without bail.
After a three-month hiatus from social media and quietly playing gigs at bars and festivals over the summer, Hardy began posting acoustic versions of previously-released songs and some he was working on. Fans were thrilled when he revealed he’d been in Nashville for new songwriting sessions in August and September, and when he released an excerpt of a new song — “That Man” — on October 15.
Within an hour of posting his announcement about the end of his record deal, Hardy had already begun receiving support from the “Idol” community. The “American Idol” social media account posted three blue hearts on his Instagram and Twitter posts, and season 16 winner Poppe posted three red hearts. In addition, multiple alums liked the post, including season 16 runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Jacob Moran from seasons 17 and 20, and former “Idol” music director Michael Orland.
“American Idol” casting producer Shae Wilber wrote on Instagram, “Love you laine!!! Onward and upward” with a red heart.
His dedicated fans, meanwhile, flooded his social media accounts with support, letting him know they’ll support his music however it’s released.
“Laine your fan’s will always support you no matter what you decide,” one fan tweeted. “We love you and wish you the best on your journey.”