Idolists on the Charts

Having the Idolists record and release original music seems to be a good idea. As of this writing, here is where they are on the iTunes Top Songs Chart: All Categories (with other charts noted, if applicable)

  • #1 Chayce (also #1 Country)[1]
  • #13 Casey
  • #14 Grace (also #5 Pop)
  • #31 Willie (also #3 R&B)[2]
  • #121 Hunter Metts 20,000 Kisses (which he wrote)
  • #138 Arthur Gunn Save Me Now (also #4 on the iTunes Rock Chart)

Why are Hunter and Arthur’s names on the list? As it turns out, it was the Top Seven who were given this opportunity. Not included was the suddenly departed Caleb Kennedy. He released a 4-song EP, Caleb Kennedy, independently, i.e. not through the Idol machinery.

Since I love data, let’s check out the current Spotify streaming numbers at the time of this writing:

  • Chayce: 39K
  • Hunter and Arthur: both approximately 37K each
  • Grace: 18K
  • Casey: 17k
  • Willie: 12K

Both the iTunes and Spotify numbers must be seen against the backdrop of another event in the business of Idol. Just before the Idolists took to the stage to sing snippets of those originals – I do not understand why they weren’t allowed to perform the songs in their entirety – Ryan announced the show’s partnership with BMG as the new recording label and music publisher. This ends their arrangement with Hollywood Records[3] and Disney Music Publishing.

What’s interesting about this is that it appears that both 19 Recordings and BMG are aligned on a new strategy to stop trying to “catch lightning in a bottle” by capitalizing on the show’s notoriety (which hasn’t worked) but instead see themselves investing in the Idolists over a longer-term development process.

As it turns out, the model for this is the career of ex-Idolist Gabby Barrett. When Gabby left the show after her 3rd place finish, she failed to find a major label willing to sign her. So she signed a deal with 19 Recordings, which released her single I Hope independently in collaboration with Red Light Management. When the song blew up on the digital services, the major labels came back and began a bidding war, and she ultimately signed with Warner Nashville.

19 Recordings recognizes the music business – and by the business I mean the industry – has changed from the radio-driven model that worked for prior successful Idolists. Hmmm, didn’t somebody write about this? The cycle to finding and developing an artist with staying power in a TikTok-driven marketplace may take a longer and different path.

What eventual success the 19 Recording/BMG partnership will bring to the current Idolists whose songs are now competing in this marketplace remains to be seen. But here’s a very interesting plot twist: for the first time in Idol history, none of the Idolists including the winner are guaranteed to sign a record deal! BMG will consider any Idolist who finished in the top 10[4] and the Idolists are not obligated to take their offers. So potentially several or none of them will get record deals.

Let’s hope one Casey gets one.


[1] He wrote his song 23.

[2] It was the legendary Tricky Stewart that worked with Willie and made a mess of the recording.

[3] Home to Idol winner Laine Hardy and ex-Idol runner-up (Season 17) Alejandro who goes by scarypoolparty.

[4] Argh! Ava August was eliminated just before the Top Ten.

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