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Madonna stands to profit from ‘Glee’ episode

If everyone hits the notes they're supposed to, Tuesday’s Madonna-themed episode of “Glee” is going to leave the Material Girl very, very happy.
Image: Vogue
Jane Lynch's evil cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester strikes a pose in a teaser clip for the Madonna episode of “Glee.”FOX
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If everyone hits the notes they're supposed to, Tuesday’s Madonna-themed episode of “Glee” is going to leave the Material Girl very, very happy — and not just from the female empowerment motif or Jane Lynch's stylized version of “Vogue.”

For one thing, it’s the only episode so far of the hit series dedicated to a single artist.

“I could see it happening again infrequently in the future,” Adam Anders, “Glee’s” music producer told TheWrap. “But Madonna was a great choice to start with because of the depth of her catalogue."

Indeed, that catalogue will hand Ms. Ciccone a nice chunk of financial joy from the licensing fees for the “New Directions” kids’ performance of 10 of her songs. Licensing, like live performance, is one of the few areas of the music business that is still actually growing.

It’s a very strategic move when you take a look at the calendar.

The “Glee” episode — “Glee: The Power of Madonna” — and accompanying record are out one week after Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour CD and DVD hit the market.

The album debuted in the Top 10, and the DVD topped the music-video charts.

“This ‘Glee’ episode is still a win/win for her and Live Nation's investment in her touring and related merchandise because of the publicity and the spike in sales they'll get for her new live DVD and CD," a music industry insider told TheWrap.

Most expensive ‘Glee’
According to one individual close to the show, Madonna and her management granted the show total access to her entire catalogue after being personally approached by “Glee” co-creator Ryan Murphy last year.

It won’t hurt ratings for the already top-rated show, either.

“Glee’s” Anders wouldn’t confirm how much the show paid to use Madonna’s songs, but he did say that quantity helps. “The more you do, there is a bulk rate involved, so you do get a better deal. Still, because of the production numbers, this was the most expensive ‘Glee’ we've ever done."

Network programs usually have a music budget of around $150,000 to $200,000 and spend about $10,000 to $15,000 to license the right to use a track.

Simon Harris of Fabric Publishing, who has had songs by its artists licensed for “Ugly Betty” and “CSI,” says “an artist or writer is not going to get rich from one song placement.” However, Harris says the rules and revenues of the game become a little different if you are a legacy superstar like Madonna.

Like Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, the singer — who has not just a deep catalogue but a strong current fan base — can command about $50,000 a tune, according to licensing agents who spoke to TheWrap.

Regardless of the discount Madonna gave “Glee,” the themed episode mostly likely will end up extremely lucrative for both the show and the performer.

The mini-album, featuring seven of the 10 songs that'll be on the show, comes out online and in stores the same day the show airs. Also, fans that purchase the album off iTunes will get a version of "Burning Up" as a bonus track.

Similar to that other Fox powerhouse “American Idol,” artists who appear on “Glee,” "get a halo effect on the track level," Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard's director of charts, told TheWrap.

In a business beset with double-digit sales drops, “Glee” has proven a welcomed tonic, with single songs from the show — both the “Glee” cast version and the original — selling in the millions.

Profitable venture
And the “Glee” albums are doing pretty well, too. “Glee Volume 1,” which came out in November, has sold 776,000 units to date, and “Volume 2,” which came out in December, has sold 574,000.

"Those are very good numbers, both on their own and in contrast to performers like Ke$ha, who has sold 558,000 units of her album since it came out in January,” Pietroluongo said.

Madonna's greatest hits collection "Celebration," which has sold about 218,000 units since it came out in September of 2009, will likely see a bounce from the 2,000 copies a week it’s selling right now, thanks to the “Glee” connection, he said.

"This isn’t really about Madonna being on ‘Glee,’" a former label executive and industry insider told TheWrap, "it's about Madonna’s place in the market."

In October 2007, Madonna left Warner Music to sign a 10-year, $120 million deal for all her future music and all music-related businesses with concert promoter Live Nation. That deal included the Madonna brand, albums, digital sales, revenue from her tours, merchandise, online presence, DVDs, TV and film projects that are music related and associated sponsorship agreements.

Additionally, the deal gave Madonna stock in Live Nation, who recently merged with Ticketmaster to form Live Nation Entertainment. The venture has certainly already proved profitable to all concerned with Madonna's 85-show 2008/2009 Sticky and Sweet world tour grossing over $408 million for the performer and the promoter.

Madonna herself told Us Weekly that she thought the “Glee” episode was “brilliant on every level.”

For a performer who has never shied away from exposure over her nearly three-decade career, looking at the bottom line, it’s not hard to see why … on every single level.