'Glee' Hits Digital Sales Music Milestone (Exclusive)

"Black or White"
Kevin McHale, Dianna Agron, Chord Overstreet, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Heather Morris, Harry Shum Jr., Naya Rivera, Lea Michele, Damian McGinty and Cory Monteith perform in the Jan. 31 Michael Jackson tribute episode. From the wardrobe dance moves, the episdoe will be the show's latest in a long line of tributes that have included Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Madonna. Curious here, why is Finn wearing his football jersey? Is his uniform number a tribute to the Jackson 5? Among the songs included in the episode, Jackson's "Black or White," which will be performed by Mercedes, Santana, Rachel, Artie and Kurt with the rest of New Directions.

Four months after celebrating its 300th musical performance, Glee has scored another major milestone.

With more than 32 million songs from the Fox series digitally downloaded in the U.S., the cast of Glee has become the No. 8 digital artist of all time, according to SoundScan data provided by the label, joining the likes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and The Black Eyed Peas, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

PHOTOS: 'Glee' Season 3: The Episodics

"There has never been anything like Glee," Columbia Records soundtrack executive Glen Brunman said of the series, which is halfway through its third season. "The idea that 58 episodes of a television show can generate sales of 32 million downloads is simply staggering. We are deeply indebted to the artists and songwriters whose music inspires us all."

In addition, the Glee cast -- which includes Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Cory Monteith, Darren Criss and Amber Riley, among others -- continued to build on its record for most entries on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart; with 193 and counting, it has long surpassed Elvis Presley, The Beatles and James Brown.

PHOTOS: Glee's 300th Musical Performance Celebration

Added to the series' Hot 100 record is a Riley-fronted cover of Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," which sold nearly 45,300 tracks after it aired mere days after Houston's Feb. 11 death. Joining the Riley rendition are covers of "Bad" and "Smooth Criminal" from Glee's Michael Jackson tribute episode; both also proved to be big sellers for the series, with more than 48,700 and 161,400 downloads, respectively.

For its part, Glee has sold more than 42 million songs and more than 12 million albums worldwide. The series has scored three consecutive No. 1 releases with soundtracks Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers; Glee: The Music, The Power of Madonna; and Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals.

STORY: 'Glee' Celebrates Its 300th Musical Performance

The series has two platinum albums (sales of more than 1 million) with Glee: The Music, Volume 1 and Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, as well as three gold (500,000) albums with Glee: The Music, Volumes 2, 3 and 4, with the latter picking up a Grammy nomination for best compilation soundtrack for visual media.

The series, co-created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, celebrated its 300th musical performance -- a mash-up of Adele's "Rumor Has It"/"Someone Like You" -- in October. The song topped the iTunes singles chart the morning after it aired as part of Glee's Nov. 15 episode.

Glee returns with its spring premiere on Tuesday, April 10 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit