1. American Idol generates sales of US$500 million or more from its many revenue-reaping spinoffs, including branded merchandise, an annual live concert tour and, of course, the recording contracts of its participants. Lesson: exploit ancillary revenue streams.
2. The American Idol concept debuted in the U.K. as “Pop Idol” before being localized for 26 other markets, including the U.S., Canada, Bulgaria and West Africa. With the exception of language, all versions are pretty much thesame—they even have their own Simon Cowell. Lesson: create products with great export potential.
3. Many decent Idol singers flop when they choose to belt out one of their favourite songs even if it doesn’t suit their voice. Lesson: sell what your customers like—not what you like.
4. Not until 2007 did American Idol do a fundraising show. Despite generating US$78 million for various international charities, “Idol Gives Back” was condemned bymany critics as a half-hearted publicity stunt. (It returned this year.) Lesson: when it comes to philanthropy, your motives are as important as the money.
5. Most Idol winners are no better talents than hundreds of undiscovered acts working nightclubs across the U.S. So why have they gone on to win Grammys and even an Academy Award? The high-profile competition lends winners a positive endorsement that influences the judges of other competitions. Lesson: leverage the power of awards programs.