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The series’ arguably unprecedented impact on record sales has historians searching their memory banks for past media events that impacted record sales to a comparable degree, citing MTV Unplugged and the days when movie soundtracks ruled the charts.
STARMAKING MACHINERY: THE IDOL FACTOR
I.B. Bad Weighs in on the Biggest Television Music Phenomenon Since MTV Itself
If there is one inarguable statement that can be made about today’s music business, it’s that the American Idol platform creates stars and sells records.

The AI behemoth’s clout will once again be on display this week with the release of Taylor Hicks’ debut album, which has a massive potential consumer base considering that 36.4 million people watched the Idol finale on which he was crowned the show's fifth-season winner.

Overall, the show has been responsible for well over 20 million in U.S. album sales for the RCA Music Group since 2001... While the show provides Clive Davis and company with a vast marketing springboard, it doesn’t make the records. The prime movers in the company's continuing ability to optimize the Idol franchise are Davis, who has expanded these acts’ star power by adding hit songs to the package, and Charles Goldstuck, who has kept RMG focused on its strategic business plans.

Interestingly, the recently released and still-developing Daughtry album is one of a handful of Idol-associated projects to have a potentially significant radio story, as it rockets up the big-rotation airplay charts. First-year winner Kelly Clarkson and 2005 champ Carrie Underwood benefited greatly from airplay (primarily Country in Underwood's case), which appears to have been a major factor in taking them from the platinum-plus level achieved by Ruben Studdard and Fantasia to multi-platinum status.

Breakaway, Clarkson’s 2004 LP, remains the biggest seller from any Idol-spawned artist at 5.6 million, while Underwood's Some Hearts is #2 at 4 million. And now, yet another Idol alum, Jennifer Hudson, who didn't win the contest, appears on the verge of stardom with plenty of Oscar buzz about her performance in Dreamgirls. It remains to be seen whether that can translate into selling albums.

The series’ arguably unprecedented impact on record sales has historians searching their memory banks for past media events that impacted record sales to a comparable degree, citing MTV Unplugged and the days when movie soundtracks ruled the charts.

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