Now that the show's download surges have established a weekly rhythm, Stringer and Bywater can focus their attention on the release of "Glee: The Music Volume 1," the first in a series of soundtracks featuring music from the show. The 17-song set will feature some of the most popular numbers from the season's first half. Columbia and Fox hope to attract casual buyers as well as the show's rabid fans.
"We think there will be a huge population of passive buyers walking through stores during the holidays and saying, 'Oh, I've seen "Glee," ' and picking up the record," Bywater says. "I think we'll see considerable sales in the Wal-Marts, Targets and Best Buys of the world."
In addition to the soundtracks, a cover of Wham's "Last Christmas" will be recorded by the cast, and although it won't air on the show, the song will be released as a single by mid-November.
As for long-term plans, a much-rumored cast tour is now in the initial stages of planning. It will likely occur in summer 2010, and Murphy will direct the show. A deal with a concert promoter is pending, he says, noting, "We're going to sit with them all in a couple of weeks and feel out the best vibe."
Another less-talked-about component of Columbia's deal with Fox is that the label has the option to sign members of the "Glee" cast to solo deals. But Stringer says the label isn't rushing to do this anytime soon, as it's committed to the show for more than one season.
" 'Glee' isn't even anywhere near where it will be in a month or year's time," he says. "The show will be five times bigger than it is now, just from word-of-mouth, so we're not in any panic or rush to overplay things, because there's plenty of time."
That said, it appears that one of the show's brightest stars has at least been sitting with label executives to discuss what her own material might sound like. "Lea has tried different songs and already thought, 'Maybe I like doing rock,' " Murphy says. "Her album is not going to be Broadway stuff. She'll sit with producers and come up with her own concept."
As for whether any other cast members have had talks with Columbia, Michele will only say, "I have no idea, but all I know is that as soon as Amber Riley [who plays Mercedes] makes her album, I'm going to be the first one buying it."
However popular "Glee" becomes in the near year, or two, or three-that's as many as Murphy has mapped out so far-it's clear the show has legs in more than one sector of the entertainment business. And through its partnership with Fox, Columbia knows that it's landed on a winning formula.
"I'd like to have 10 'Glees'-my life would be a lot easier," Stringer says. "So, do I want to continue to be in this business? Absolutely."