"X" Marks the Spot
With "American Idol" behind him, Simon Cowell's "X Factor" flexed its muscles in 2011, launching five finalists from the British show's seventh season as potential global artists and landing the show on the air in the United States. Fox didn't pull in the numbers Cowell had hoped for-12.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen, versus a predicted 20 million-but the show did deliver an extraordinary launching pad for a career: a $5 million prize and a Pepsi ad. Epic signed four acts from the program and more are likely to be signed within Sony Music. Cowell's label, Syco, gets the album from winner Melanie Amaro, and he's taking a long view regarding career development. "If you want the best out of these contestants," he told Billboard.com, "you need to spend a minimum of eight or nine months in the studio." Cowell's involvement in televised music competitions makes them ratings successes, and his combination of taste, honesty and snarkiness makes people in the desirable 18-34 demo tune in. Power on.
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