The Fox TV contest, which has produced instant pop stars and hit records, will allow both professional and amateur songwriters to compete for the chance to write songs for the finalists, a spokesman for series creator Simon Fuller said Monday.
In the past, the show has called on an industry songwriter or producer to write an original song for each of the two finalists, with the new "idol" or even the runner-up consistently scoring best-selling records with the tunes.
This past season's winner, Taylor Hicks, is on the charts with "Do I Make You Proud," which he performed on the finale.
The songwriting contest is aimed at getting numbers that might be better matches for the contestants, Fuller told the Los Angeles Times.
Details of the new competition were not available, Fuller spokesman Eric Green said Monday.
Auditions for the sixth season of TV's top-rated series were scheduled to begin Tuesday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and continue in six other cities through September. "American Idol" returns in January.