Nashville Minting Country Music Stars

ABC'S Nashville isn't burning up the ratings, but songs featured on the freshman country music soap are doing surprisingly brisk business. Within two weeks of its Oct. 10 premiere, five Nashville numbers populated the iTunes Top 5. And according to label partner Big Machine Records (home to Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Reba McEntire), 702,000 digital downloads have been purchased as of Dec. 3, which a source estimates has netted the company $1 million. That's nowhere near Glee numbers, but while Glee label Columbia is hawking cover tunes, Nashville's music, curated by producer T Bone Burnett, is entirely original. That means songwriters (including The Civil Wars' John Paul White and Hillary Lindsey of "Jesus, Take the Wheel" fame) and show producer Lionsgate share in the music revenue. It also means its stars -- Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton among them -- could be country's next hot new artists, even though the show draws only 5.7 million viewers a week. (The Nashville soundtrack is due out Dec. 11.) Says Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta, "The show is a great vehicle for new music and has the potential to rival American Idol, X Factor and The Voice in launching new talent."