Appearing on the national karaoke contest that is "American Idol" doesn't guarantee a successful career. Just ask Justin Guarini, if you can find him. Or R&B singer Ruben Studdard and blue-eyed soul man Taylor Hicks, who were recently released from their recording contracts. Former Richmonder Elliott Yamin chartered his own course for his post-"Idol" career when he decided to sign with a small label with big-time distribution. The move set the former Douglas S. Freeman High School student up for a career that may not include successive chart-busting singles or big budget videos, but allows him to build his career carefully and steadily. Yamin recently released a CD of holiday tunes and is slated to appear on a compilation put together by "Idol" judge Randy Jackson in March. Yamin performs at Collegiate's Oates Theatre Saturday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. $45. 285-6500.